4 keys to building successful mentorship programs in academic radiology

As in most industries, mentorship is recommended within academic radiology because it can boost confidence, promote job satisfaction, avoid early burnout, promote patient safety and facilitate professional success in the future.

In an article published in the October issue of the Journal of the American College of Radiology, authors Rachel E. Perry, MD, and Jay R. Parikh, MD, of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston discuss the value of mentorship in helping junior faculty members overcome these challenges. They also cover stages of mentorship, strategies to implement mentorship and threats to successful sustained mentorship.

Here are four key takeaways:

  • Academic radiology departments should oversee the program. Should the radiology department see fit, a committee may design and oversee the mentorship program and can also be helpful in evaluating the efficacy of the current mentorship program and make adjustments as required. This setup is also useful for departments that wish to match the needs of subgroups such as women or minority groups.
  • Both parties should benefit from the relationship. The goal of mentorship is to create a nonjudgmental, nonthreatening work environment that encourages empowerment of one another to seek and achieve both personal and professional success. Both mentors and mentees should benefit from the relationship. It should let them feel connected with their careers. Mentorship can also be used to benefit improved self-confidence and morale.
  • Finding the right mentor and investing time in the relationship are critical. Time spent in-person between mentees and mentors, both inside and outside of the academic setting, can help junior faculty members quickly acclimate to new work environments. Additionally, the authors note, open opportunities for mentees to ask pressing questions build rapport and may lead to the development of more natural mentor-mentee relationships. Mentors can provide resources and constructive feedback needed to help the mentee set short and long-term goals in department-wide meetings or written statements reviewed at the time of annual faculty appraisal. Radiology departments should utilize technology to ensure mentorship needs are met. Web-based platforms and smart phones can be effective tools for mentors/mentees to have personal conversations.
  • Academic radiology departments should consider recognizing mentorship efforts. The authors mention that few academic radiology programs have stipends or other forms of recognition for mentorship programs. If academic radiology departments make mentorship a priority, faculty members may view mentorship less as a “hobby” and be more motivated to participate.