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Kevin Dwyer
Mentoring Assignment
August 3rd 2016

Mentorship in Medical Dosimetry Education


Effective mentoring can be thought of as a relationship-based teaching method. Aspects
of effective teaching seamlessly translate over to effective mentoring. One highly important
aspect of effective teaching is the teacher-student bond. In order for students to be motivated to
work hard, it is important for them to have someone to look up too or admire. A teacher must be
someone that they want to learn from. This helps to form a more personal relationship with the
teacher/mentor and student/mentee. A well balanced relationship is important for
mentors/mentees because it sets responsibility on both parties. Knowing that a teacher is
expecting students to do quality work encourages students to work harder. Teachers are faced
with more responsibility knowing that students are depending on teachers wise and thorough
guidance. This relationship is key to all aspects of teaching and working with peers. Although
building a relationship may not be always as easy as it sounds.
A problem many mentors/teachers face is not having enough time to be able to teach all
the material they are required too. Mentors/teachers have their own work to accomplish and it is
not uncommon for either party to feel overwhelmed. A common misconception that many
teachers/mentors have is that by spending some time talking about anything off topic, they are
wasting valuable time. They feel that they need to immediately change subjects and get back on
task. However, this is not the case. By simply listening to what the student, or teacher, has to say,
a relationship is being formed. Theres a lot to say about a person who is patient enough to
actively listen. By sharing interest, hobbies, enthusiasms, etc. mentors/mentees have a greater
understanding of how to communicate with one another. We are all human. It is near impossible
for anyone to stay completely focused on one task for 8-10 hours of a day. Sometimes the best
thing we can do is change the subject for a short chance to relax and recharge. In doing so we
come back to the subject feeling more alert, prepared and having a better understanding of
person we are working with. Ultimately we save time in the workplace because by getting to
know people we learn how to more effectively communicate with them.
One of the first documented mentors, Niels Bohr, showed us the importance of
relationships. Bohr was a 20th century Danish physicist concerned with the development of

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Kevin Dwyer
Mentoring Assignment
August 3rd 2016

upcoming scholars. He established relationships by engaging in conversations with them about


off topics such as politics, life and leisure. Students regarded Bohr in the highest fashion;
regarding him as having holistic perspective and sense of caring.1 He looked at his mentees as
people instead of simply inexperienced scientists. His example instilled a way of thinking,
scientific excellence and integrity into many upcoming scientists.
Aside from establishing a relationship, what else makes a good mentor you may ask? A
well experienced seasoned veteran of the field. A seasoned veteran has probably seen almost
everything. Through their advice, the lessons that were learned through mentors mistakes live
on. A good mentor can save the mentee much time and effort by sharing the mishaps/successes of
their learning. A mentor must have the patience to explain things multiple times and in multiple
ways. What may work for one student may not work for another. Some mentees may need to see
the same thing in multiple ways before something finally clicks. A good mentor will learn how
the mentee learns best. They will actively ask probing questions to get the mentee to explain
what they know as opposed to spoon feeding information. Question probing gets students to
explain their reasoning. It forces students to explain what they know, providing for assessment of
the highest quality. For large classes where teachers teach this is often impossible, except for
small groups or individual help. However, one of the major benefits of a mentor/mentee
relationship is the benefit of real time assessment/feedback from the mentor to the mentee. We all
know that there are validity concerns associated with multiple choice tests and even short answer
questions. It is hard to judge what a student really knows, if they got the answer right on a
multiple choice test. Is it because of a guess? Or were they able to reason their way through the
question with high problem solving abilities?
So what does mentoring mean to me? Great experience built with great friends. I am so
fortunate to be surrounded by 4 dosimetrist with over 80 years experience between them. When
I work with them we keep the mood as light as possible to keep tensions low. However, often we
get pretty busy and that means its time to get down to business. While completing my internship
here at McLaren I have been so fortunate to work with such great people. I learn so much every
day (in life and Dosimetry). Even when I feel stressed or overwhelmed, I know that I will have
support from my great mentors. One thing I didnt think about with mentorship was the aspect of

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Kevin Dwyer
Mentoring Assignment
August 3rd 2016

having multiple mentors. However, after experiencing it, I wouldnt have it any other way. As Al,
one of our dosimetrist said the more voices you hear trying to direct you, the more confused
youll be. I believe this to be true because its very hard to decipher which path to choose, but I
try to take all advice with a grain of salt. I enjoy hearing explanations in multiple ways because it
sheds new light on the subject and usual offers another way (sometimes more efficient) of doing
things.
As I progress through my career I plan on always being a mentee. My favorite thing that
Al said to me was that youll never stop being a menteeif youre wise especially in a field
where technology is constantly changing. This is the same approach I took with education. As
teachers we are constantly learning. In some ways I have already took on a mentor/teaching
position. I have been training Al on how to use our Eclipse/Aria software as he came from a
Pinnacle/MOSAIQ background. This has been exceptionally beneficial to me. I believe the best
way to solidify/test what you know is to teach someone else. As Terry said there are no losses
from mentoring only gains . gain respect of the people you teach, gain your own level of
understanding, respect from the people you teach, confidence in what you do. Its all gains, just
like the stock market baby. As we progress into our careers it is very important to stay up to
date with our colleagues. The field becomes less about mentor and mentee and more about
collaboration for the greater cause. At the AAMD conference I was so fortunate to talk to Tom
Constantino who gave a presentation on SBRT lung planning. Even though I was only a student
he was willing to take time out of his non-stop schedule to give me some advice on screenshots I
had of my plans. I will never forget that kindness and will always be quick to help others in need.
We are all in this field to help patients and work with great people. We need to stay active as
collaborators and have fun with it. I believe mentoring is the first step of a life-long collaborative
learning relationship.

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Kevin Dwyer
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References
1. Lenards N. Mentoring. [SoftChalk]. LaCrosse, WI: UW-L Medical Dosimetry
Program; 2015.

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Appendix A
Kevin Dwyer
Interview with Terry Dillon, Senior Physicist at McLaren
August 1st, 2016
Q: How would you define mentoring in your own words?
A: I guess making sure that you learn the practical aspects of doing your job with
the whole team. You know, making sure youre watching all the different aspects of
what you got to do for the benefit of the patient with respect to the doctor, the
physics and the therapists and tie it all together. So mentoring would be making
sure that you get the whole picture. Not that youre getting just one little part.
Thats my aspect of mentoring; make sure you see the whole picture.
Q: What characteristics do you think a good mentor possess in your opinion?
A: A rounded out level of experience with respect from your job and because. If I
was just like coming in from nuclear reactor physics, maybe I would know what was
going on with the machine or what was going on with the medical aspects for the
patient. I think you just need to have a good level of experience; dont pick
somebody who is just 2 years into the program. It takes a long time to learn all of
the things that you do in the department. Its tough for me to explain to any
outsider just what I do; even some of the insiders.
Q: Do you think its good to have multiple mentors?
A: Yeah, absolutely. Perspective changes from individual to individual. VK (physicist)
sees things different than I do and Art (physicist) got a whole different perspective
too. The way different peoples brains work. Its really good to tap into seeing what
you can gather from them.
Q: So what should I do when I have two different mentors telling me opposite
things?
A: What would you do? Ok. I guess, if you were the Mentee haha (laughs). Alright I
think you just have to take the explanations with a grain of salt and say O thats a
different perspective I guess, I havent thought of that. Take it in stride, make up
your own mind later. Take what you can from each one. Dont forget to be humble
and kind like Tim McGraw Says (chuckles).

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Q: Have you had any mentors in life/career that helped shape you to who you are?
A: I did. When I was in the radiation therapy program I had a physics teacher. My
first physics class in RT program he gave me the background and perspective and
presentation that oh I can do this. He gave me the enthusiasm to pursue the
medical physics program. If the guy had a different personality, then maybe I
wouldnt have pursued it. If he hadnt shown his enthusiasm in the field and the line
of work he was in, I mean definitely it was his personality. Mentor..? I dont know
how much of a mentor he was, but he did give me that incentive to push forward.
Q: What about what he said motivated you?
A: Well his practical, logical approach to the physics dilemma for treating patients
and just his enthusiasm for what he did. I think is what fired me up and light the fire
inside me. It had me looking around Hey I think I can do this I think I wanted to do
this. I think he was the one guy that pushed me forward. People in my class saw
what I was doing and they said hey I want to do this too. Two of us and another
guy followed and another guy from the class below us. Four of us went into physics.
Q: What do you gain from being a mentor?
A: you gain insight into your own line of work because you may have to explain the
same situation in several different ways to get through to someone who may not
understand. Come up with different explanations that are more meaningful to this
person one way or the other. It makes you think about your line of work in different
ways. It rounds it out in a big way; you ultimately gain experience from the
explanations you deliver. You think about what you do. Its all about gaining, there
is no loss. No loss of time, its all about gaining. Gain respect of the people you
teach, gain your own level of understanding, respect from the people you teach,
confidence in what you do. Its all gains, just like the stock market baby(laughs)
Q: Do you play the stock market?
A: I dont, I dont want to give my money away. Ive learned in terms of that stuff,
you can play a little bit but save your money, big time save your money. Whenever
you get a matching flushery put the maximum down and even more as time goes
by. It takes a long time to save money, but as time goes on, I did, its worth it. You
will accrue wealth and preserve it too. Not just throwing it around. Youre not used
to spending money now so dont get started.

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Kevin Dwyer
Mentoring Assignment
August 3rd 2016

Appendix B
Kevin Dwyer
Interview with Al Karmos, Dosimetrist at McLaren
Q: How would you define mentoring in your own words?
A: Giving an example to someone whether its verbal or by action. Advice of
something that they requested.
Q: What do you think are some good characteristics a mentor should have?
A: Well they need to be educated in the process the mentee needs to be
mentored in. Educated and experienced in the field.
Q: Do you think its good to have multiple mentors?
A: I think its a good idea to have multiple examples of other things, but I
think the more voices you hear trying to direct you, the more confused youll
be. But I do believe its a good idea to be exposed to other things, but really
just select one or two people to give you the direction youre asking for?
Q: So what should I do when I have two different mentors telling me opposite
things?
A: Experience on, past experience youve had between the two. Youve
probably had enough past experience to be able to tell what to choose. Or
consult a 3rd party.
Q: Have you had any mentors in life/career that helped shape you to who
you are?
A: Yeah in my personal life Id probably say my father. Professionally Ive had
several, depending on where I was or what work I was doing. I can work out a
couple different people at different places where I would bounce things off of
them and you know look for advice.
Q: Do you recall a time when you transitioned from mentee to mentor?

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A: I think that its a you know youre always going to be a mentee I think. If
youre wise that is. Because youre always going to be able to pick up from
someplace. I think its a transition due to age/experience where you become
a mentor for more than half the time I guess because there are very few
above you who can help you in the direction youd like to go.

Q: What do you gain from being a mentor?


A: Satisfaction. Youre knowledge that youve gained over the years or
experience can help those to learn from youre mistakes. Those experience
will live on through someone elses thought processes.
Q: move from OTJ to schools
A: I dont mind it so much. I guess it was bound to happen the way things are
going more computer based. I think you get a lot more clinical experience
through OTJ. I think that schools are a more well rounded education.
Disappointed with the way that the MDCB has severed ties with those who
dont pass the boards with this next year.