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ASME mentoring pilot

We are delighted to announce that ASME’s mentoring pilot is about to start. ‘We’ are Bob McKinley, the Director with responsibility for career groups and Simon Frazer from ‘Doctors Training’ which has been appointed as the training provider for the pilot. We are working toward having our first mentors’ training workshop in February 2021. However, because this is a pilot and correspondingly of small scale the mentors’ workshop will not be open to all members initially but if the pilot is successful, ASME plans to run more workshops.

So, what is this all about?

Many us will have had the privilege of having a colleague who has taken the time to be ‘interested’ in us and our career and given us the time and the space to talk and think about ourself and our career. They may have helped us think about where we are, where we want to be and how we might get there or helped us by just allowing us to mull over a problem in a non-judgemental fashion. That this has happened is often down to chance but not everyone has had that chance. The Board wants to take chance out of the equation and enable all those who feel that this could be useful to have an opportunity to have time with a colleague to do just this.

What is mentoring?

We are using an adaption of Bozeman and Feeny’s definition of mentoring: ‘a process for the informal transmission of knowledge, social capital, and the psychosocial support perceived by the recipient as relevant to work, career, or professional development; mentoring entails informal communication, [often] face-to-face and during a … period of time, between a person who is perceived to have greater relevant knowledge, wisdom, or experience (the mentor) and a person who is perceived to have less (the mentee)’. Bozeman and Feeney (2007).

Who can act as a mentor?

Bluntly, people with ‘greater relevant knowledge, wisdom, or experience’ which is ‘relevant’ for the person being mentored. The ‘knowledge wisdom and experience’ of a near peer may be more relevant to a mentee than someone who reached the top of whichever ‘tree’ the mentee is considering. There are members in all sections of the membership who have much to share with colleagues. So, we are looking for mentors who fully represent the diversity of ASME’s membership in JASME and TASME, the SIGs, Committees and the Board from all academic, support and clinical backgrounds.

What is the commitment as a mentor?

The first commitment is to preparation for the task. We will be offering live online interactive workshops in February as the core preparation for mentoring. This will be tailored to meet the needs of what we hope will be a highly diverse group of mentors and we are currently consulting with the membership to refine training. Doctors Training are also developing a ‘Mentor’s Handbook’ which some more experienced members will feel is sufficient as a ‘stand-alone’ resource. ‘Contact’ time between mentor and mentee will vary but while it should be regular, we do not expect that it would be frequent. We suggest that an initial meeting with a follow up a few months later and then 2 to 3 meetings a year, few of which would be longer than an hour. The length of the relationship will vary but many mentoring relationships have a natural ‘lifespan’ which becomes evident as the relationship matures. Different mentors have different ‘capacities’: it is for the mentor to decide whether to mentor a single mentee or several.

What will mentors ‘get out of mentoring?

Firstly, personal development as a mentor.

Secondly, the opportunity to ‘put something back’ and contribute to the development of others.

Finally, while the mentoring relationships often run their course, the professional relationships and friendships which often ensue are deep, long-lasting and can be mutually beneficial.

Are we prioritising certain membership groups?

Because we have limited places in the first mentors’ course, we will give preference to more active members of ASME, for example members of the JASME, TASME, Education research and Educator development committees, SIG leaders and the Board. Should we have places left we will prioritise members who have been attendees and contributors to our meetings. We propose to initially prioritise mentees in the same fashion.

Of what will the training consist?

Engagement with 2 half day online workshops and/or the Mentor’s handbook.

What support will mentors have?

During the training workshops there will be an opportunity for new mentors to connect and network with other mentors creating an informal support system for reflection as you develop your experience and expertise.

To stand alongside the Mentors handbook, Doctors’ training is developing a website of support materials. There will be a mentorship agreement which mentors may use if wished which will help to manage expectations.

How do we plan to match mentors and mentees?

Our current plan is to establish a Mentors’ directory on the ASME website to which members will have access. Each mentors’ entry will contain a brief biography. Potential mentees will be asked to provide a brief biography and a description of why they are seeking mentorship and a choice up to three ranked mentors. These will be reviewed by the Director for career groups. Unless there is something inappropriate, the request will be forwarded to the ranked mentors in turn. If the mentor agrees to provide mentorship, the office will introduce the mentee and the mentor to each other.

However, as this is a pilot this (or any other aspect of the process) may change as we learn from doing.

Finally, what’s next?

We will be advertising for members to identify themselves as potential mentors before the end of December. Please think about whether you would like to be a mentor, keep an eye out for the advertisement and apply if you think you have something to give.

Bob McKinley
Simon Frazer