A cherished friend of mine passed away recently. He was one of the first real “experts” I ever met when it came to image quality testing and the subsequent calibration of imaging equipment, cardiovascular equipment in particular. I feel like my life was enriched by the opportunity to know him and all those little life and work lessons that were passed on to me during long evenings poring over a broken room, and scratching my head wondering how to return it to service. As I look around our industry I see the gray hairs, and truth be told, I have a few myself. I know there are so many repositories of knowledge and I wonder how to champion the transfer of knowledge. I also consider what will happen if that knowledge goes away, and the people remaining in the HTM field have to “reinvent the wheel” and how that will impact our reputation as HTM departments and the security of our jobs.
So having given this some thought, it seems to me that there are people who can help you grow in three ways. There are those that are going to be your personal cheering section and they will support you even if you are going down a dead end route. These people are necessary because they will keep your spirits up when adversity strikes. They will believe in you through thick and thin.
There are people who will advocate for you, think of those who you would ask to be your references, and visit those relationships often. See if they not only are advocating to you within their professional circles, but if they have advice that you need to hear or a new perspective within your own experience, that needs lifting and sponsorship.
Finally there are mentors, people who will not be able to impact your personal or professional life directly, but can steer and provide insight to you in your journey toward excellence. Perhaps they can help you to see a potential set of career circumstances that will provide a measurable and attainable goal.
Mentoring is an interesting idea for people at every level of the Healthcare Technology Management field. It allows for the exchange of knowledge and ideas and benefits both parties. I always have found that I never know anything so well as when I am trying to teach it to someone else. Conversely, when you have a high-potential employee one of the most exciting things is to see them grow and get more and more opportunities to contribute to your organization. So as our career field turns over, I am reminded of an axiom that the U.S. Navy taught me: Train your relief.
Here are some things to consider when recommending someone on your team seek a mentor, or seeking out one yourself. To begin, start with someone that you want to be like. For me, when first dealing with my friend, it was having the technical expertise that my colleague had and the knowledge to not only repair the unit but the user’s relationship with the unit. Essentially, why did I admire him? I had to study him, and also ask, if he was willing to make the effort to help me grow in this field. As our relationship grew I often reviewed the takeaways from each encounter, some being incorporated into my own skill set, others being understood but actively chosen to pursue at another time. I always felt it was important to follow up afterward and let him know how much I valued the time and help.
We, of course, didn’t hurry our relationship. It grew some years at a snail’s pace. Other years it grew by leaps and bounds. However, the thing that I remember most was how when it was hardest and I wanted to put things on hold by walking away or taking a break, he encouraged me to stay engaged even though things were difficult. The process of working through those moments helped me and our relationship grow. I will miss him dearly, but am grateful that I had the opportunity to be mentored by someone as smart and caring as Jake Hess.
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