Doctors are increasingly being asked to get involved in mentoring both formally and informally. But why do it?
I think Doctors like supporting other doctors. They like to pass on their experiences and help others to avoid mistakes and difficult situations they’ve encountered. The medical profession is a long career and there is a lot to learn, so the chance aid others is a powerful driver for most Doctors.
So what is it and why might Doctors be really good at it?
“Mentoring is a distinct relationship where one person (the mentor) supports the learning, development and progress of another person (the mentee).” Julie Starr.*
Mentoring (and coaching) is different from training because it aims to ‘draw out’ learning rather than push in information. It aims at reflection and experimentation that leads to individual development, rather than at direct influence that leads to presupposed outputs.
Why could Doctors be good at it?
- Doctors are used to listening to people’s concerns and anxieties confidentially
- Doctors have a caring and empathic approach to other people
- Doctors are used to remaining objective and impartial
- Doctors are used to spotting patterns and making connections in problems
What can hinder Doctors being great mentors?
- Doctors are used to listening for clues that can help diagnosis – mentoring conversations require you to listen with an open mind and follow the mentee’s train of thought within a supportive structure
- Doctors are used to being in pressurised conversations where time is limited – mentoring needs to be free from rush and should give people time to think freely.
- Doctors are used to directing junior colleagues – mentoring is not about solving the other person’s problems, but rather enabling the mentee to explore their own solutions.
If you have access to a mentoring scheme through your College, Training Programme, Hospital or other organisation, get involved.
*Julie Starr has recently published The Mentoring Manual and references Gandalf/Bilbo, Dumbledore/Harry, Yoda/Luke and other famous great mentoring partnerships.
If you would like to talk over mentoring call me on 0754 0593476 or email me at
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