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Mentoring Schemes

Types of mentoring schemes

There are very many different types of mentoring schemes available to doctors. These range from formal, structured mentoring programmes where doctors are assigned a mentor, to very informal arrangements where doctors 'co-mentor' one another - that is, both take the role of mentor and mentee, and provide a 'sounding board' for each other. Whatever the terminology or format of these schemes, there is evidence to suggest that mentoring is hugely beneficial to doctors, to their colleagues, to patients and to the organisation as a whole.

Benefits of mentoring schemes

Benefits reported include:

  • The facilitation of dedicated time for reflection, allowing the mentee to work through any difficulties they may be experiencing, be they professional or personal.
  • Increased career success and job satisfaction for both the mentor and mentee.
  • Fostering of better working relationships with colleagues and patients alike because the doctor can develop a positive approach to interacting with people.
  • Developing the confidence required for doctors to handle difficult situations, deal with relationships, solve problems, and provide leadership.
  • Improvement in work performance.
  • Improvement in retention rates.
  • Facilitating better communication throughout the organisation.
  • Scope for the development of new ideas.

Some rules and recommendations

Mentoring schemes are most productive when:

  • Participation is entirely voluntary.
  • Confidentiality is ensured (subject to patient safety).
  • The mentor and mentee feel comfortable with the mentorship.

Mentoring schemes should:

  • Be encouraged at all levels.
  • Be advertised widely within the organisation.
  • Have aims and objectives clearly identified from the outset.

Setting up a mentoring schemes - tips on getting started

Mentoring is often used for specific groups of doctors - for example, refugee doctors, doctors who have experienced difficulties, or are undergoing a period of change (eg, taking up their first consultant post).

Organisations wishing to start up a mentoring scheme should ensure that they provide as much information as possible about the scheme, the terms of reference, the mentors etc, and ensure that mentoring is promoted as a natural way to enhance careers and work through professional and interpersonal issues.

As mentioned before, mentoring should in no way be linked to the managerial process and participation must be entirely voluntary.

There should be sufficient choice of mentors available, and adequate opportunity for mentor and mentee to meet.

If organisations are unable to set up their own mentoring schemes, offering a signposting service to other schemes in the locality would be useful.

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