Mentoring

In medicine mentoring has a long-standing tradition of facilitating professional growth, both clinically and academically.  Currently work/life balance issues have become increasingly important to junior doctors and their struggles in attaining it have led to new reasons to seek a mentor.  In the past previous mentoring relationships were sought informally but there is an increasing drive by specialty colleges to support more formal mentoring programs, a process already in place in other arenas of medicine such as medical schools and hospital based programs for interns and residents.  The College of Intensive Care Medicine advises its trainees to find their own mentors, but due to the personal nature of the relationship, leaves it up to the trainee and ICUs to form the relationship.

Why Choose a female Physician as a mentor?

Mentoring for female physicians has a number of positive consequences.  Evidence suggests that mentoring for women doctors can improve their research participation and post-graduate qualifications and as well as guide them to leadership positions and becoming mentors themselves. 

 

Ironically female doctors are less likely to seek or have a mentor.

Why might female doctors choose not to have a mentor?

A lack of senior female mentors, or mentors that female physicians may identify with to help achieve a work/life balance

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Not wanting to be perceived as requiring help, especially in male dominated specialties.

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Lack of time on the part of the mentee.

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Fear of rejection from the mentor

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Different types of mentoring

Different types of mentoring have been defined, dependent on the mentee’s reasons for seeking a mentor, and many doctors will have more than one through out their career.

Some examples are:

  • Peer mentoring – Having a mentor 1-3 years senior, can help navigate the next few years for junior doctors.  The peer mentor offers a set of skills that have just allowed them to go through a similar obstacles and therefore have the benefit of recent knowledge, shared age and interests to help the mentee.

  • Goal oriented mentoring – This is largely in the realm of research, where having a research mentor helps improve productivity, overcome specific difficulties and help define and reach goals. can help facilitate networking and professional relationships.

  • Group mentoring – Often led by a single mentor, with 2-3 mentees in the group. This allows participants to benefit from mutual support amongst the mentees themselves, as well as the support and advice from the mentor. 

Male mentors feeling uncomfortable being a mentor to female doctors

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Senior clinicians lacking time to commit to a mentoring relationship

A lack of mentoring skills or ways to develop them available for potential mentors

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For more resources on mentoring: