Mentorship is invaluable to the radiology resident experience. Mentors help residents acclimate to residency, find research opportunities, network, secure fellowship positions, and offer long-term career advice. These goals are often accomplished through multiple mentor relationships throughout a resident’s career.
Mentors altruistically devote considerable time and resources to helping residents succeed. Additionally, successful mentoring has been shown to be linked to increased involvement in research, enhanced career satisfaction, and pursuit of an academic career. As such, the resident should feel an obligation to create a productive and fruitful mentor-mentee relationship. So, as a resident, how do you make yourself an ideal mentee?
First and foremost, realize that these relationships should be driven by you, the mentee. Whether you are paired with your mentor by your institution or you self-select a mentor, the onus is on you to communicate your specific needs as well as define both short-term and long-term goals at the beginning of your interaction. This open and honest communication should continue throughout your mentoring relationship as your career naturally evolves and your needs change. This level of communication is important for the mentor to understand how they can best advise you, and it avoids confusion and resentment which could arise from unreasonable expectations.
Just as it is your responsibility as the mentee to define and communicate your goals, you should also take initiative to set up regular meetings with your mentor. Your mentor’s time is likely at a premium. To make these meetings as productive as possible, come prepared with materials to review, updates on your progress, and ideas for future direction. Your meetings will be more efficient, and your mentor will appreciate your respect for their limited time.
When an ideal mentor-mentee relationship forms, the mentor generally offers advice and creates opportunities for their mentee. Be respectful and grateful for their advice and the resources they provide. For instance, if offered an opportunity to be involved in a project, enthusiastically agree if this aligns with the goals you have mutually discussed. Once you take on new opportunities, work hard to prove yourself worthy of your mentor’s time, attention and resources. Building a reputation as a reliable and motivated resident will open doors within your institution as well as at regional and national levels.
In conclusion, mentorship is essential to professional development as a resident. In a mentor-mentee relationship, mentees should drive the relationship based on clearly-defined goals and objectives. Mentees should communicate early and often with their mentors, respectfully accept advice and opportunities, and work hard to build a reputation which will lay the framework for a satisfying and productive career.