Mentorship for New Consultants

The Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine (FSEM) acknowledge that mentorship can be a powerful tool for a new consultant’s development. This statement outlines the importance and benefits of mentorship, mentors and mentee’s roles, eligibility criteria and how mentorship can be arranged. It has been composed by Ralph Smith, FSEM New Consultant Representative, and endorsed by the President of the Faculty.

Introduction

Starting as a newly appointed Consultant in Sport and Exercise Medicine (SEM) is both exciting and challenging. The absence of clinical supervision, changes in workloads and increases in non-clinical components such as leadership and management can be daunting.  Gaining the experience, expertise and wisdom takes time.

SEM consultants work in a variety of settings (ranging from Elite Sport to the NHS Musculoskeletal and Exercise services) with a wide scope of practice. Many of these roles are not always in established organisations such as the NHS and lack support structures. It is acknowledged that the new SEM consultant can be vulnerable to working in isolation and feeling unsupported.

Mentorship programmes can be a powerful tool for new consultants facilitating the transition to senior consultant(1). It has been suggested that mentoring can enhance technical and non-technical skills; which may lead to improvements in care quality and patient safety(2).  There is increasing evidence indicating the benefits of mentorship to confidence levels, job satisfaction, working relationship, sense of collegiality and career decisions making as well as a reduction in job stress, burnout and absenteeism(1-6). The faculty strongly endorses mentorship.

Whilst some health care organisations, such as the NHS and ministry of defence, run mentorship schemes; programmes are not always offered locally and not specific to SEM. Mentors can be from a different speciality; and may struggle to relate to specific SEM consultant roles. Furthermore, many new SEM consultants have roles outside the standard healthcare settings. The faculty acknowledges the importance of mentorship to be specific to the new consultant’s role and needs. Senior faculty members have a wealth of knowledge, experience and expertise to support the development of a newly appointed consultants. The faculty activity encourages senior members to register as mentors.

This statement outlines the faculty’s position on new consultant mentorship. Whilst currently there is no formal mentoring scheme, new SEM consultants (within their first five years) are strongly recommended to seek early appropriate mentorship that meets their requirements for their entire scope of practice.  The faculty will help facilitate mentorship via its mentor network. The faculty’s aim is that new SEM Consultants should feel supported in all aspects of their work.

Mentorship

Mentorship is designed to unlock potential; help facilitate personal and professional growth and support the mentee’s development as a newly appointed consultant(7). Mentorship should be viewed as distinct from other aspects of professional development such as assessment, appraisal and revalidation.

The Medical and Dental Education described mentoring as ‘the process whereby an experienced, highly regarded empathic person (the mentor) guides another individual (the mentee) in the development and re-examination of their own ideas, learning, and personal and professional development’(8).

Mentorship takes the form of a series of one-to-one conversations between an experienced senior consultant (mentor) and a recently or newly appointed consultant. The relationship is voluntary, confidential and professional. Mentoring should be viewed as a positive mechanism of support to all fledgling consultants and not only for consultants who feel they are not coping or are at risk of working in isolation(1).

The Faculty recommends that new consultants reflect on their scope of practice identifying areas where mentorship would be beneficial. New consultants may already have a mentor for some aspects of their work, however, they may feel unsupported in a particular area of SEM, where mentorship would be valuable. New consultants are encouraged to contact the faculty and an appropriate mentor can be identified.   The faculty acknowledges that providing mentees with an opportunity to engage with a range of mentors in a supportive environment is the best springboard for a new consultant’s professional development.

Mentee’s role

Mentoring should be mentee-centred. The faculty expect the process to be driven by the mentee’s goals and objectives. The Mentee’s should acknowledge their time with the mentor is focused totally on them, their challenges and solutions, areas of personal development and individual and organisational objectives. Benefit of the mentoring to the mentee range from increased self-awareness to enhancing working relationships and resilience(1, 2).

Mentee’s are expected to be self-motivated, willing to try new ways of learning, abide to commitments and honour the mentoring agreement. The mentee should lead on establishing initial contact, arranging meetings, communication with the mentor when necessary and writing up any post meeting documentation.  The mentee is expected to adequately prepare the mentoring session with setting and reviewing objectives.

Eligibility Criteria:

A new consultant is defined as those within the first five year of consultant practice. Mentorship enquiries can be initiated from the last six months of SEM specialist training.

How to request mentorship

New consultants requiring mentorship should make initial via the faculty enquiries email (enquiries@fsem.ac.uk) highlighting their specific areas of need. Please use the subject title ‘Mentorship’.

Mentor’s role

For a strong mentoring relationship, the mentor needs to be committed, have genuine interest in development of others and willingness to invest their time. Core to effective mentoring are communication skills such as active listening, questioning, facilitating, reflection and delivering non-judgemental constructive feedback.

Mentors should offer advice, guidance, support, and signpost to useful links and support networks on both clinical and non-clinical components. If appropriate, they can help facilitate clinical development and experience through shared clinics or procedures.

For the mentors, the benefits include the development of communication skills needed for effective team-working and leadership, sharing of experiences and learning, self-reflection, expanding professional networks and the personal reward of aiding other faculty members professional development(1, 2).

It is encouraged, but not mandatory, to complete a formal mentor training programme. There are useful links to resources below. Mentors are advised to limit themselves to maximum of two mentees at any one time. Where possible, this role should be included within their current job plan and appraisal.  It is the joint responsibility of both mentor and mentee to agree the amount of contact time. It is expected that, as a minimum, mentees will have access to their mentor for two hours every four months. How contact time is achieved will be down to the individual preferences of mentor and mentee. Overall the relationship should be finite and with a typical timeframe of two years.  The faculty will hold a list of mentors to provide mentees.

How to register as a mentor

Potential mentors should contact the faculty administration team via email (enquiries@fsem.ac.uk using subject title ‘Mentorship’) to register their interest. The mentor will be assessed for eligibility (see below) and begin the process of being matched with a mentee depending their needs, geographical location and area of expertise for e.g. football medicine, elite sport or physical activity specialist.  Once successfully matched, it will then be up to the mentor and mentee to decide the details of the mentoring relationship.

Eligibility Criteria:

Mentor should be an established consultant and Fellow of the faculty, usually with at least five years’ experience with an interest in developing their own skills in this area, and feel they have able to give sufficient time to contribute to mentorship.

Mentoring agreement and meetings:

It is recommended a mentoring agreement (contract) with the mentor and mentee at the initial meeting is drawn up. This may be face-to-face, online or via telephone. This included clarifying both parties’ expectations, roles, rules surrounding confidentiality, the mentee goals surrounding performance and development, frequency and length of meetings. It is advised this agreement is documented in shared in post meeting. The 3-stage model adapted from the skilled helper model’ has been suggested as a useful framework to structure each mentoring conversation(1, 9).  After the initial meetings, the frequently of subsequent meetings should be agreed. As the relationship develops the mentee may merely require supported via email or telephone advice.

©Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine UK – Mentorship for New Consultants. Published December 2019.

Author: Dr Ralph Smith, FSEM New Consultant Representative

For further information on New Consultant Mentorship please email: enquiries@fsem.ac.uk

Useful links:

  1. Royal college of Physician and Surgeons of Glasgow: https://rcpsg.ac.uk/college/career-support/mentorship-programme
  2. E-learning for health have a free two-part module on medical mentoring: https://www.e-lfh.org.uk/
  3. Faculty of Medical Leadership and Management: https://www.fmlm.ac.uk/members/individual-support/mentoring
  4. Royal College of Surgeons England: https://www.rcseng.ac.uk/standards-and-research/support-for-surgeons-and-services/professional-support-for-surgeons/mentoring/
  5. British Medication Association: https://www.bma.org.uk/advice/career/progress-your-career/mentoring
  6. Health Careers NHS mentoring schemes: https://www.healthcareers.nhs.uk/explore-roles/doctors/career-opportunities-doctors/mentoring-schemes-doctors

References:

  1. Ackroyd R, Adamson KA. Mentoring for new consultants. J R Coll Physicians Edinb. 2015;45(2):143-7.
  2. Harrison R, Anderson J, Laloë PA, Santillo M, Lawton R, Wright J. Mentorship for newly appointed consultants: what makes it work? Postgrad Med J. 2014;90(1066):439-45.
  3. Sambunjak D, Straus SE, Marusić A. Mentoring in academic medicine: a systematic review. JAMA. 2006;296(9):1103-15.
  4. Haque S. Consultant survival guide. Clin Med (Lond). 2014;14(2):176-7.
  5. Medford AR. Mentoring–an underappreciated entity? J R Coll Physicians Edinb. 2015;45(2):98-9.
  6. British Medical Association. Mentoring [Available from: https://www.bma.org.uk/advice/career/progress-your-career/mentoring. Access 21/8/19.
  7. Association of British Clinicial Diabetologists. National Diabetes Consultant Mentorship Programme [Available from: https://abcd.care/national-diabetes-consultant-mentorship-programme.  Accessed 21/8/19.
  8. Oxley J, Standing Committee on Postgraduate Medical and Dental E. Supporting doctors and dentists at work : an enquiry into mentoring. London: SCOPME; 1998.
  9. Egan G. The skilled helper : a problem-management and opportunity-development approach to helping. 9th ed. ed. Belmont, Calif.: Brooks/Cole Cengage Learning; 2010.