Mentoring is the practice of facilitating a
person’s development. ‘To help and support
people to manage their own learning in order
to maximize their potential, develop their skills,
improve their performance, and become the
person they want to be' (Parlsoe; ).
Mentoring tends to involve an experienced individual using
their greater knowledge of the work or workplace to support
the development of an inexperienced colleague. However, it is
not directive; at its best it takes a coaching approach where the
mentor helps the mentee to find his or her own path and solutions.
It has been described as helping without telling. A mentor can
provide support, direction and an objective view on how the
mentee can develop and progress in their working environment.
Who needs mentoring?
Anyone and everyone at some time in their careers could benefit
from a mentor. This is particularly the case around times of
transition and change, for example starting a new consultant post
or returning to work after a career break. Mentoring is not just for
doctors at a crisis point, it can also be used to further challenge
and develop the most able of people. The GMC advocates
mentoring for doctors in enabling the delivery of safe and effective
care when taking on a new role. In Leadership and Management
for all Doctors it states: ‘you should be willing to take part in a
mentoring scheme offered by your employer’ .
What does the mentee get out of the relationship?
- help with achieving outcomes that the mentee cares about;
- help in exploring weaknesses and gaps in their experience
- exploring understanding, perspectives, attitudes, beliefs and
thinking styles through a supportive relationship;
- an opportunity to talk through issues requiring a decision or
- some judicious challenge and support around facing difficult
issues and developing self-awareness;
- assistance with reflection leading to personal and professional
For doctors in training the Local Education and Training Boards
or Deaneries should provide, or be able to provide access to
mentoring. For new consultants many employees’ organisations
will have a mentoring scheme in place. To try out mentoring there
are free taster sessions available at the Association’s national
meetings including the Trainee Conference in July 2019.
What can happen in a mentoring session?
A mentoring meeting is typically a formalised structure of
dedicated, private, uninterrupted meeting time. The content is
guided by the mentee. A skilled mentor will use a combination
of questioning, listening, observation and feedback to create
a productive conversation which fosters insight and learning.
The mentor encourages the mentee to find their own solutions
to move forward. The frequency of meeting is agreed between
the mentor and mentee; typically, this takes the form of regular
meetings for up to a year for newly appointed consultants.
At the start of the mentoring relationship, the mentee will need to
think about what the gap is that he or she would like mentoring to
fill. It might be around:
- integrating into the team;
- understanding how to take on a new role or project;
- help with managing working relationships;
- balancing responsibilities inside and outside work.
It is useful to set some goals as the mentor and mentee begin to
Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust
- Connor M, Pokora J. Coaching and mentoring at work: developing
effective practice. Open University Press; 2007
- General Medical Council. Leadership and Management for all
Doctors. London; GMC; 2012 (https://www.gmc-uk.org/ethicalguidance/ethical-guidance-for-doctors/leadership-and-management-for all-doctors)