Wednesday, December 14, 2011
T4T by Jonathan Chung: Mentoring
Truly, no man or woman is an island. Ever since I can remember, mentors have guided me along my path. In high school, I still remember my sister telling me which catch phrases certain teachers liked and what tables to sit at during lunch. In medical school, my senior student mentor guided me through the gauntlet of 4 years of the most intense training I had ever experienced, supporting me by repeatedly bringing me care baskets during finals (seriously, who does that? I guess someone really awesome). In residency, numerous attendings “took me under their wing” and showed me how exciting and gratifying academic radiology could be; their warnings of pitfalls to avoid still resonate in my mind.
Studies suggest that there is a strong link between mentorship and mentees’ career choices, advancement, academic productivity, sense of well-being, and job satisfaction. This makes sense because a strong, nurturing mentor will guide a mentee, allowing the mentee to have the highest chance of success in his/her endeavors.
In my experience, the best mentors are those individuals who have a track record of mentoring others successfully. Also, they tend to be honest, approachable, well-respected (either academically or clinically), and reliable in their promises. However, given how broad residency or fellowship training has become, it is often necessary to have more than one mentor at a time (right now, I probably have a mentoring relationship with at least 5 senior mentors). This is something to be expected.
For a radiology resident, mentorship should not be solely the responsibility of attendings; for example, the junior resident can learn much from senior resident mentors. Importantly, mentorship is not a one-way street. I have found that many younger radiologists lament their lack of mentorship. However, often times, they fail to realize that one of their most important roles as a mentee is to proactively seek out mentors in their own institution, at meeting, and even through online communication. In addition, as a mentee, one should be willing to change and self-correct based on the constructive criticisms of your mentors.
So, go and find mentors to help you in your career. (Even if you have been assigned a mentor through your training program, usually the best mentorship relationships are the ones which are sought out by the mentee.) I owe so much to my mentors throughout the years. Don’t fool yourself into thinking you can do it alone.