Why be a mentor?

While mentoring is primarily to benefit the mentees, there are also many benefits to becoming a mentor. Mentors can learn from mentees, mentoring can extend professional and social networks, and enhance career satisfaction. Many experienced GPs are keen to become involved in the education of younger doctors and to impart valuable skills and experience.

Who can become a mentor?

Mentors are experienced GPs that are respected by their Northland peers. They must be prepared to set aside their own time voluntarily to the development of new Fellows, Registrars, post-graduate doctors expressing an interest in general practice, or other Fellows who wish to be supported. Mentors should not be in an employer/employee relationship with mentees or be in any way associated with formal assessment or supervision of mentees.

There are some personal and professional characteristics that have been associated with good mentors. These characteristics include doctors who are collaborative, intellectual, and are skilled clinicians and teachers.

Specific qualities or skills associated with increased mentee satisfaction include:

  • Keeping in regular touch
  • Not abusing power
  • Providing counsel on professional decisions
  • Providing help in building professional networks
  • Providing guidance with career plans
  • Providing opportunities to develop communication skills

How to become a mentor

Please contact the Kapa Kaiaka Coordinator if you are keen to become a mentor.

Tips on being a mentor

Mentees generally look to mentors as role models for how to integrate their personal life with their professional life. A positive mentoring relationship does not however occur with giving advice or offering solutions, rather mentors are encouraged to guide mentees through a process of thinking through their own issues and reaching their own conclusions, primarily through active listening. Active listening, in mentoring, can be facilitated through the narrative approach. This approach encourages story telling to share experiences and come to a common understanding. The narrative approach can be summarised by the ‘seven C’s’:

The Seven C’s[1]:

  1. Conversation: resolve problems through the conversation rather than giving advice.
  2. Curiosity: establish what the mentee already knows and what options they have already thought of.
  3. Contexts: it is often more important to discover the contexts for a problem that than focusing on the content. Explore mentee’s beliefs and values.
  4. Complexity: most problems are complex. Mentoring offers an opportunity for mentees to increase their understanding of what is going on.
  5. Challenge: Mentoring requires frankness.
  6. Caution: Mentoring also requires respect and operating within the mentee’s capacity to tolerate anxiety.
  7. Care: Mentoring requires attentiveness and positive regard.

While active listening and the narrative approach are key components of effective mentoring, there are two other aspects that mentors and mentees should consider. The first is confidentiality - ensuring that both mentors and mentees keep strict confidence regarding information that is shared during mentoring sessions. The second aspect is setting boundaries. It is recommended that mentors an mentees define and agree on the boundaries to the relationship in terms of its limits and duration. The initial mentoring session should ideally include a discussion on both of these aspects, as well as the frequency of meetings and responsibilities of mentee and mentor.

[1] Launer J. Supervision, mentoring and coaching In: Understanding Medical Education: Evidence, Theory and Practice (Second Edition). Edited by Tim Swanwick. The Association for the Study of Medical Education. John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. London.