The Importance of Mentorship in Radiography


Mentorship refers to teaching, counselling, and advising by a counsellor, trusted friend, or a more experienced person (Whitworth et al. 2013). Mentorship has received significant attention in academic medicine research and its importance is incontrovertible. In radiology, mentorship is a means of recruiting medical students, promoting higher quality training, improving the confidence of trainees, and improving the technical competence of junior students (Sundgren 2012). Kostrubiak et al., (2017) suggest that mentorship is very important factor in academic medicine, though the study discovered that several academic radiology departments in Canada, USA and other states do not have formal mentoring programmes for radiology learners. As purported by Sharpe et al. (2015), I learnt that the short meeting that takes place between a radiographer and a patient are exceptionally important as they significantly influences care outcomes and patient satisfaction. The study also suggest that mentorship enhances promotes success and improves professional and personal advancement for women. Generally, mentorship in radiography provide a unique purpose and equip learners with skill sets. This is a reflective writing on my experience as a mentee undergoing mentorship in radiography. The specific case is an instance where a radiographer noticed my anxiety, which lowered my ability to master the medical imaging. This paper applies Gibbs Model of reflection. The model includes six stages of reflection namely description, feelings, evaluation, analysis, conclusion, and action plan (Brock 2014).



Anxiety is mostly part of every radiographer students who is on their training. At this stage, mentorship is very critical. During my clinical placement as a third-year student in diagnostic imaging. I was working that day in the CT scan which is designated for emergency examinations.

It was a busy day, in the morning the work was going smoothly, and all the CT scan examinations were done perfectly. I was doing some of CT scan exams under the supervision of a radiographer who encouraged me and supported me in the work and provided me with advice and guidance. In the afternoon, my supervisor radiographer and who was on duty received a request for an assaulted patient who required CT scan of the brain. We read together the clinical history of the patient who had head injury and possible facture or bleeding. Out of my expectations, my supervisor requested me to perform patient scan which was such a serious examination. I got very nervous and even struggled to even set up the patient because of the patient’s critical condition. I was visibly nervous and confusion was expressed all over me. My supervisor quite understood what I was experiencing as she had mentored many radiology students before. She gave me the necessary instructions and was keen to keep me steady during performing the examination. She was aware that I was not experienced in handling traumatic imaging exercise. However, I doubted my ability to perform the evaluation by myself and I asked the radiographer to assist me in performing the scan when I need. I was also sure that her presence would help me acquire confidence and over time, I would be able to set assaulted and injured patients and be more confident in performing imaging. Fortunately, the radiographer mentor was empathetic and helped me in performed the CT scan. While understanding my nervous condition while performing the scan, she showed me the key procedures and how to overcome the nervousness and how to be professional, accurate and quick. Moreover, after the scan, the radiographer shared with me her first experience with CT imaging for trauma patients and I realised she experienced more challenges than I was. As an adorable mentor, she promised to guide me until I built more confidence in medical imaging. During the rest of the day, my mentor took role to teach me how to perform radiography and I was happy that I gained hand experience in radiography and CT scanning.


To start with, the fact that I had not gained enough confidence in setting patients especially with injuries, I felt very miserable. Moreover, from my nervousness, I felt I was allowing my fears take control and rob me my dream of being a professional working in medical imaging. Moreover, at the same time, I was frustrated because after learning all the three years, I was too nervous to set a patient. To be frank, I felt like giving up when I imagined that my supervisor would blame me for my fear of scanning the trauma patients. At the same time, I felt doubtful after I imagined if the radiographer understood my condition and whether she would accept to entrust me with another role in future. I felt I had to take a chance that was meant to build my expertise in medical imaging. Fortunately, my supervisor assisted me in performed the evaluation by giving the instructions for the major sections of the procedure. Truly, I felt relieved, courageous and lucky that I got such a nice supervisor. After this experience, I felt that the supervisor was loving, passionate and inspiring. I also discovered that, it was okay to be nervous and it is part of human nature. Moreover, after the mentor promised to mentor me through my clinical training, I felt lucky and excited since I wondered if such nice people exist in the medical field. After this, I was now optimistic and determined to gain the best experience. From the mentorship role, I felt inspired and hopeful that my future and my career will be bright. I also realised that I had much to do to build my confidence and eventually offer high-quality medical imaging services. At the end I was less embarrassed and committed to honing my imaging skills.


This experience overall was a positive learning experience for me and it can be argued that this positive learning experience is vital in my development, learning and my future employability as a radiographer. At the time, I fully satisfied of myself for taking an opportunity that was essential in building my confidence in medical imaging. However, I thank my mentor for ambushing me; I thought she would aim to help me in improving my skills especially with critical exams. However, after the patient left and I spoke with my mentor, I realised it is normal to be nervous when working on critical scans. It was also after the mentor shared her experience that I got to appreciate her deliberate efforts of ambushing me. I felt that if she did not ambush me, I would have continued being anxious which would take me even longer to build confidence in medical imaging. Later when I was doing my research, I realised that most radiology students will be anxious but if they work on building confidence they will excel. This is clear in the relevant literature: according to Kostrubiak et al. (2017), students with an interest to pursue radiology have many questions that considerably provoke anxiety when left unanswered. At the end of this incident, it appeared to me that many radiology students are nervous and make mistakes in the fieldwork phase, which encouraged me to commit to mentorship such that I would have built medical imaging confidence by the end of the fieldwork phase.


At that time, I felt that the situation was made positive by both my actions and those of the radiographer. I later realised it was okay to feel nervous and it was important for the mentor to ambush me to gain the confidence. According to Perry and Parikh (2017), well-versed mentors in the field of radiology can effectively lower the level of anxiety and build confidence in medical imaging students by confronting their fears. On the other hand, Kong et al. (2015) state that anxiety is common among medical imaging students at the fieldwork level and mentors can help build confidence by creating opportunities for these students to practice what they have learnt. Still, Perry and Parikh (2018) write that it is the role of a mentor to help the mentee to overcome their weaknesses and guide them on how to improve. This influences an understanding that by asking me to perform the CT scan, my mentor was seeking to help me overcome my fear in being close to patients regardless their condition. In addition, the radiographer assured me she would remain close until I developed confidence in setting up patients and performing evaluation regardless the condition of the patient. This type of closeness in mentorship can be seen as friendship, which is integral to successful mentorship. According to Lu and Scholz (2016), friendship in mentorship creates a bond in which the mentor better understands the needs of the mentee thus offer the required level of support. On the other hand, Alean-Kirkpatrick (2011) state that a mentor should portray a sense of equality to the mentee for the mentee for be confident in attaining the desired outcome. In my case, I felt equal to the radiographer when she shared her experience: in this sharing, I did not perceive her as an authority figure but someone who has fears and eventually overcame them. I therefore felt that by opening up to her and remaining close to her, I would eventually overcome my fears. I also felt the friend in my mentor when I requested her to assist me in perform the evaluation and she did: it gave me a feeling that she gave me a choice in deciding on activities, which according to Opota and Greub (2017) is a sign of friendship in mentorship. Van Deven et al. (2013) state that mentors should provide emotional support to radiology students in order to minimise stress while seeking to ensure that radiology students complete their course. In my case, the mentor realised I was in distress and shared her first experience in medical imaging to encourage me. She also honoured my request of her in assisting performing the evaluation, which further lowered distress. Laming (2010) state that it is the role of the mentor to create a safe environment that does not provide any form of harm to the mentee. Sharing experiences as noted by Visscher et al. (2015) is essentially beneficial as it gives direct insights to radiology students continue pursuing the programme. According to Nimmons et al. (2019), mentors should be willing and open to discuss their difficulties and challenges in the medical field in a way that encourages students to continue striving to achieve their goals. This was true for my mentor: she openly shared her first experience in medical imaging an act that saw me regain my interest in radiology.


In retrospect, there are things I would do differently. I should have been more active in seizing opportunities to develop my confidence and skills in medical imaging. I should also have been more assertive by requesting the radiographer to allow me perform imaging on patients rather than waiting for her to assign me. In addition, I should have taken some time to introduce myself to the radiographer so that she could understand my distress when I see trauma and injured patients; she could have prepared me before assigning me the patient had she known my weakness. Therefore, I resolved to dealing with my fears to ensure I am not nervous on seeing injured patients which will make them feel more welcome in the imaging department.

Action Plan

In future, I will be sure to develop and maintain a relationship with professionals I am working with. Had I shared my initial feelings of anxiety with my mentor, she would have provided more avenues for development and she would have been more sensitive on how she communicated when assigning me the task to perform the brain scan. When working with teams in future, I intend to share my weaknesses so that each understands relevant actions to help build my confidence and how roles should be assigned. I have already opened up to my mentor and together we developed mentorship and team-teaching programme to help build my confidence in medical imaging. I hope to continue sharing my weaknesses to people I am to work with in future so we can understand and build each other. To further develop my imaging skills and confidence, I have asked my mentor to allow me perform more imaging tasks and I intend to be assertive to even complete more before the end of the fieldwork phase. This experience has also helped me realise I need to learn interpersonal skills so I can create a caring environment in which patients feel safe and calm. I have already read a lot of literature on patient-centred care and the role of non-verbal communication in healthcare to build my interpersonal skills.

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