‘Truly Amazing’ Mentor Dr. McGinty Keeps Inspiring Those Around Her

‘Truly Amazing’ Mentor Dr. McGinty Keeps Inspiring Those Around Her

Going through medical school in Ireland and a residency and fellowship in the US, Geraldine McGinty, MD, learned from people who helped her succeed. But none of that assistance was part of a formal program.

“I don’t think I heard the word ‘mentor’ until I was a practicing radiologist,” she said.

Geraldine McGinty, MD, was the first woman to serve as chair of the American College of Radiology.
Geraldine McGinty, MD, was the first woman to serve as chair of the American College of Radiology.

As chief resident at the University of Pittsburgh, Dr. McGinty and a few cohorts started a program to assist first-year residents. It was the beginning of what would become a lifetime of service as a mentor, even if the group wasn’t using that word to describe the contributions they were making to their younger colleagues.

“We started the program to make sure that they understood what they were starting, what was expected of them,” she said.

Now a professor of radiology at Weill Cornell Medicine and an attending radiologist at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, Dr. McGinty spends time every week working with physicians during varying points of their careers. Some meetings happen virtually, and others take place over a cup of coffee.

One of her mentees is Connie Lu, MD, fourth-year diagnostic radiology resident and chief resident at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell. Dr. Lu is part of one of several “families” established by the chief resident that include an attending, a senior resident, and a junior resident. Dr. Lu connected with Dr. McGinty as a first-year resident when she expressed an interest in health-care policy and economics.

“From the beginning, Dr. McGinty has been a supportive mentor and role model in all possible ways with her empathy, her active listening, her attention to not only career development but also to personal growth,” Dr. Lu said. “Dr. McGinty has taught me through her own expertise and experience, but she also draws upon her connections and relationships to other people to provide different perspectives and experiences.”

Dr. McGinty takes keen interest in working with women to bring out their leadership skills. She speaks from a world of experience having filled top roles at various associations, societies, and institutions. She was the first woman to serve as chair of the American College of Radiology, where she eventually became president.

Five years ago, she endowed a scholarship at her Irish alma mater, the University of Galway, to support female physicians who are pursuing MBAs.

“I have mentees who are from very diverse backgrounds, male and female,” said Dr. McGinty, who has an MBA from Columbia University. “But when I look at the fact that the majority of the healthcare workforce is female, that’s not how it looks in the highest levels of leadership.”

Anyone who signs on to be a Dr. McGinty mentee understands expectations from the start. For example, when she introduces them to important people in their fields, they need to give their all by making a positive impression and showing that they value the opportunity.

“I want to make sure that I’m clear what I want, because to some extent, when I make an introduction for you, you’re wearing a jersey with my name on it,” Dr. McGinty said. “If you don’t show up, you don’t do the right thing, then the person’s not going to be as willing to make time for the next person I introduce.”

She’s also willing to realize when the partnership isn’t working and that the mentee would be best paired with someone else. They might even come back to Dr. McGinty at some point down the road.

“I’ve never had a mentee who’s disappointed me,” she said. “The foundation of the relationship is not what I want. It’s what they want. What I would hope to say to them is, ‘Don’t think that you’ve closed the door. I’m here if you want to open this conversation another time.’ “

In her time working with Dr. McGinty, Dr. Lu can see why her mentor has left a lasting impact on many physicians with plenty more to come. Her mentor’s history of helping is evident across the profession.

“Many of the people I have met along the way told me how Dr. McGinty was a mentor to them as well,” she said. “It’s hard to find the words to encompass how truly amazing a mentor Dr. McGinty is and how many people she has positively impacted.”

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