“Show me a successful individual and I’ll show you someone who had real positive influences in his or her life.” A quote attributed to actor Denzel Washington manifested in a wildly popular mentoring match-up during ACR 2019 — leaving mentors and mentees alike grateful for a chance to propel radiology into a changing future.
While ACR’s annual meeting is always an opportunity for radiologists at any career level to network and learn from their peers, the College this year showed its commitment to guiding (and learning from) the next stewards of the specialty. “ACR 2019 provided a unique opportunity to connect with our radiology community, and I didn’t want any attendee to miss out,” says BOC Chair Geraldine B. McGinty, MD, MBA, FACR. McGinty was matched with Candace S. Potter, MD, chief resident at University of Massachusetts Medical School.
“Via Dr. McGinty and other networking opportunities, my perspective of my future career changed,” Potter says. “I was reminded of how lost I was in the beginning, transitioning from medical school to residency. This pairing re-inspired me to stay in contact with the education side of radiology, helping medical students navigate their way into one of the best specialties in medicine.”
During the registration process for the meeting, registrants were asked if they wanted to meet a mentor or connect with a mentee. More than a quarter of those who registered indicated, “Yes.”
“I think mentoring helps you meet new people, grow your network, open doors, and provide opportunities to get involved,” says Chelsea Schmitt, a medical student at the University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine. Her mentor was Andrew K. Moriarity, MD, vice chair of the ACR YPS. “Mentors can give guidance on how they’ve approached situations in the past,” she says, “and they have a perspective you don’t yet have as a student.”
For mentees, an introduction to the world of organized radiology is worth saying yes to. It’s an opportunity to learn something new — even if it isn’t exactly what they expect. Mentors at times will have to give tough feedback to those they sponsor. There will be other times when the mentee becomes the teacher — giving experienced radiologists insight that may guide them if they mentor someone new down the road.
“My approach to mentoring starts with a focus on building a diverse and vibrant professional network,” McGinty says. “I leverage that network to support my mentees in building their own Kitchen Cabinet.”
Individual interests that play into the best that radiology has to offer is the point. “I chose to sign up because I was excited to meet a radiologist who was interested in sharing their advice or perspective with a medical student who is interested in the field,” Schmitt says.
Prospective mentors should look for authenticity in prospective mentees, McGinty says. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to care about everything that they find interesting. Be ready to help, guide, and answer questions — but be careful not to pretend that what interests them interests you.
Good mentoring benefits all generations of radiologists. Rewarding faculty members for voluntary mentoring encourages the practice. Distinguishing a mentor from an educator is an important nuance. Mentors are often expected to provide emotional support, counseling, and empathy. Those offerings become especially useful when guiding new generations through unprecedented challenges to secure their place in the field.
Mentors should be honest, good at listening, and accessible. Prospective mentees should make time for the experience they are gaining and appreciate the time mentors commit to give. Beyond mentoring opportunities available through networking events, radiology departments should consider establishing structured processes for identifying and preparing mentors.
Regardless of your title, your busy schedule, or your other commitments, connecting with other radiology professionals is worthy of your time, Potter believes. “Once you’ve made your way through the struggles of medical school and residency, it’s easy to trek forward and not look back,” Potter says. “But there must be a great sense of achievement in being able to look back and help guide someone else through their journey.”
“I take every opportunity to direct sponsorship opportunities to my mentees — with the only expectation being that they pay it forward,” McGinty says. “So far my return on investment has been outstanding.”