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).
The Royal College of Surgeons of England fully supports participation in such mentoring schemes, but recognises that doctors may benefit from mentoring at any stage in their career, not just at perceived 'crisis points'.
There are a few examples of targeted mentoring schemes - for newly appointed consultants; for refugee doctors; for doctors in difficulty and for doctors returning to work after a period of absence.
Newly appointed consultants
The transition from SpR to first consultant post can be extremely challenging. With the proposals to streamline training under the Modernising Medical Careers initiative (MMC), shortened hours under the EWTD, the need to support newly appointed consultants is crucial.
The Association of Surgeons of Great Britain and Ireland (ASGBI) recommend in their MMC consensus statement the introduction of formal mentoring to offer support and guidance to newly appointed consultants. It estimates that a period of perhaps 3 years post appointment would be beneficial.
Does your organisation operate a newly appointed consultant mentoring scheme? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to tell us about it.
Refugee doctors can provide a valuable service to the profession, but face a number of obstacles to starting a medical career in the UK. The BMA has set up a refugee support network and database. They strongly advocate structured mentorship of refugee doctors and are actively looking for professionals to provide such support. The BMA has also urged Trusts to provide free clinical attachments to refugee doctors in order to familiarise them with the UK health service.
Does your organisation operate a mentoring scheme for refugee doctors? Contact us at email@example.com to tell us about it.
Doctors in difficulty
While the College wishes to move away from the traditional association of mentoring for doctors in difficulty, it is cognisant of the fact that mentoring can be an extremely useful tool for doctors who have experienced difficulties with their performance, or who have been suspended from duty for any length of time.
In this instance, it is vital to ensure that any mentoring arrangement is entirely separate from management or assessment processes, and from remediation arrangements.
Returning to work after a period of absence
Surgeons who are returning to work after a period of absence (for example, after long-term illness, maternity or sabbatical leave etc), may benefit from a period of mentoring to help ease them back into work.
An assigned mentor may address concerns about 'deskilling', or loss of confidence in clinical responsibility. The mentor may be able to provide information on changes in the working environment which have occurred since the surgeon went on leave, re-familiarisation with the workplace, working practices and colleagues, and of course, a listening ear for problems and concerns.