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Leveraging Mentorship

By: Tammy McCausland

Dr. Ruth Gotian spoke about mentorship at SROA’s 2022 Annual Meeting. She said we need four roles in our life:

  • Role Model is someone you want to become.
  • Mentor talks with you (an extended period of time).
  • Coach talks at you (pushes you, holds you accountable; a finite period of time.
  • Sponsor talks about you (people who nominate you for committees, award).

People with mentors out earn people who don’t, she said. A mentor will tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear. Mentors provide you with a network. Mentors give you “feed forward”—that is, ways to make you improve in the future.

Why Have a Mentor?

The mentor can share their experiences with you. They have perspective you don’t have yet. They have skills they can teach you. They have political capital in terms of whom they can introduce you to.

People who have mentors have higher self-efficacy, lower burnout, higher salary and salary growth, more promotions, and greater job and career satisfaction.

Where Do Mentors Fail?

Gotian talked about active and passive mentorship malpractice. Active mentorship malpractice includes:

  • The Highjacker: Takes the mentee’s idea as their own
  • The Exploiter: Gives mentee low-yield activities
  • The Possessor: Exhibits domination over the mentee. These mentors view seeking assistance & collaboration as a threat to their position.

Passive mentorship malpractice includes:

  • The Bottleneck: No bandwidth or desire to help mentee
  • The Country Clubber: Everyone’s friend but avoid conflict (aka no difficult conversations)
  • The World Traveler: Little time to check in on a daily basis

The Perfect Mentor

The perfect mentor doesn’t exist because you’re not perfect. Find a mentor that you look up to, has a good reputation, is well-connected and willing to share. The people on your mentoring team should be in your field, outside your field/industry, community of practice, project experience, senior/junior/peers and retirees. Gotian advised to never ask anyone to be your mentor.


Dr. Gotian is the chief learning officer and assistant professor of Education in Anesthesiology and former assistant dean of Mentoring and executive director of the Mentoring Academy at Weill Cornell Medicine.


Dr. Ruth Gotian
Dr. Ruth Gotian: The Success Factor
Dr. Ruth Gotian: Articles, Podcasts, In the News


How has a mentor helped you? Have you had any bad mentorship experiences? Have you been a mentor?

Share any helpful tips and suggestions.

We would love to hear your experiences.

Share your thoughts here, or login to SROA Connect and join the conversation. If you are not a member of SROA yet, learn more about joining the radiation oncology association serving the niche profession of Radiation Oncology Administrator.

Related Content:
SROA Blogs
SROA Mentor Match Program


Society For Radiation Oncology Administrators (SROA)


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