By Christa Cole, RT(R), BS, CRA
Being a mentor can be a very rewarding experience for both you and your mentee. I have had the opportunity to experience some mentors that were very good and others that were not. I have also seen first-hand the value of having a positive and productive mentor/mentee relationship from both sides.
The first thing most people think of from a value perspective as a mentee is the opportunity for growth and advancement. While this is true, there is much more to it than achieving higher positions. A mentee can gain knowledge and experience at the same time by working with real scenarios for immediate practical application. Support and guidance from the mentor are readily available as the mentee is exposed to new situations that were previously uncomfortable. Mentees have the opportunity to learn from their mistakes in a somewhat controlled environment, without fear of punitive or retaliatory actions for decisions or actions that did not turn out as expected.
Another benefit is being able to identify strengths and build on them, as well as identify areas for growth and improvement on a personal and professional level. All mentees receive a multitude of benefits from the relationship; and while achievement, growth, or promotion may be why the relationship began, there is also opportunity for networking, friendship, and exposure to things that you may not have had the chance to experience in your own setting.
Mentors have the opportunity to not only teach and help a colleague, peer, or subordinate; they also have the chance to learn from them, which is perhaps the greatest benefit of being a mentor. It is a great time for self-reflection to identify opportunities to enhance your own leadership skills in areas that need additional development, such as coaching, communication, and being an example of what you would expect from others. Teaching, sharing experiences, and helping your mentee will not only help them grow; it will also help you grow. Communication is a key factor in any mentor and mentee relationship, whether it is a mentee within your team, or a colleague from another organization. Seeing your mentee advance, pass a registry, get a promotion, and grow personally and professionally is immensely rewarding.
Mentorship programs exist in nearly all environments. Some are formal, while others are informal, yet they are all about helping others grow to be the future of the organization. I would encourage you, as a leader (regardless of what level), to be involved in a mentorship program, whether it is cross training to a new modality, or helping someone study for the CRA exam. Any and all help to grow the future of radiology and healthcare is important, and you will gain lifelong benefits no matter what side of the relationship you’re on.
I will be presenting more on mentorship including how to choose a mentor/mentee match, how to progress from a mentee to a mentor, and how to create and sustain a mentorship program at the AHRA Spring Conference. Please join me and my co-presenter, Curt Bush, CRA from 10:00-11:00 AM on Friday, March 10 for “Mentorship: Building Leaders and Being Built.”
Christa Cole, RT(R), BS, CRA is the director of imaging services at Methodist Hospital in Henderson, KY. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.