Who is your mentor?

Take a moment to think of the journey you are on. Where have you come from, where have you been and where are you going? Think of the bumps, the tough climbs and the wrong turns. Think of your achievements, discoveries and realisations. Now, who helped you on your way? Who has been your mentor? Perhaps you are or would like to become a mentor to others and support them on their journey?

Doctors should always be on a journey of learning, growth and improvement. Yet, you can only learn so much in lecture halls or in books. So, everyone benefits from having a mentor to help them on their way. But such a multi-dimensional journey of growth covers numerous domains of knowledge, skill and practice. That means we should probably amend our question. Who have been and who are your mentors?

Now, did they all approach the challenge of supporting you in the same way, or were there significant differences? If your answer is the latter – and you either want to be a mentor, or a better mentor than you currently are – then you really need to be able to answer another question.

What actually is a mentor anyway?

When we ask delegates on our courses to describe their mentors we regularly receive a broad range of very different responses. Some share their experiences of the teacher who has willingly shared their knowledge. Some talk about the person who provoked them and challenged them to figure things out for themselves. Others recall the more experienced person who gave them opportunities and were on hand to intervene whenever necessary. And some fondly remember the experienced person who was always available to answer their questions and share their own stories. We hear about formally appointed mentors and structured programmes. We also hear about the mentors who are simply willing, helpful colleagues and have been on a similar journey.

Who’s right? Well, they all are of course, and that’s part of the problem. All too often, descriptions and explorations of being a mentor go into the subject without a clear, tangible definition. Even when they do, they often focus in depth on one approach to mentoring without paying attention to the potential breadth.

That’s why we’ve based our new Mentoring Skills Online Course for Doctors on a multi-faceted model which is easy to remember and to use.

So, whether you want to become a mentor, or you want to be a better mentor, what do you mean by that? How are you going to make that happen?

Stephen McGuire – Managing Director