Guiding, developing and empowering: our mentoring experience

A mentor and mentee from the Royal College of Physicians' (RCP's) mentoring scheme discuss their respective experiences in the programme, and highlight the successes of its processes and support.  

A mentee’s experience

When I enrolled in the RCP mentoring scheme in mid-2015, I was not sure what to expect. Two years into the programme, not only has it been an excellent experience, but I honestly believe that I would not be in training if I had not received the mentorship. 

My mentor, Dr John Ong, has guided me in the right direction and challenged me to better myself so that I can achieve my goal. Together, we made a plan to improve my CV and established milestones towards me getting into core medical training (CMT) (and subsequently into specialty training). I consequently became more proactive and confident as a doctor. In the first year of my mentorship, I initiated and completed a quality improvement project (QIP) at Guy’s Hospital, which was graded as excellent, and I also secured a CMT post. In the second year of my mentorship, I gave a national poster presentation and I was awarded the full MRCP(UK) as a CT1. Compared with 2 years ago, I feel that my experience is equal to UK graduates and that, as a result, I have the same opportunities to pursue my career in gastroenterology.

The mentor–mentee relationship has given me really good and useful experience. It has been a dynamic process in which I have had the chance to receive dedicated, focused attention and support from an experienced colleague who has the same interests as me. I have also been able to have non-judgemental and confidential discussions about my anxieties and concerns with someone who is in the same profession as me and who understands my context. This has inspired me to pursue a postgraduate degree in medical education, so what I initially envisaged as being a 1-year mentorship will definitely continue until I am a consultant!

Dr Leila Mebarek, core medical trainee year 1, East of England Deanery

A mentor’s experience

I joined the RCP mentoring scheme to support junior doctors through their clinical training and to help them get the most out of their career in medicine. As a UK graduate of non-British nationality, I appreciate the challenges and complexities that confront many aspiring physicians, especially those who have qualified overseas and have come to the UK to help us to keep the NHS running.

I first met Dr Leila Mebarek, my RCP mentee, in 2015. Leila was new to the NHS, having qualified in Algeria, and she was keen to pursue a career in gastroenterology. The RCP mentoring scheme gives mentees the option to choose their mentor, which meant that Leila and I had very similar interests from the start, which made it easy for us to break the ice. As a result, our mentor–mentee relationship got off to a flying start. We are now 2 years into the mentorship and, through her own diligence, Leila has done exceptionally well and she remains very motivated to achieve more each year. She will be applying for specialty training in gastroenterology in 2018 and I look forward to welcoming her as a gastroenterology registrar in Cambridge.

The role of an RCP mentor is not to ‘spoon-feed’ their mentee but to guide, develop and empower them to make decisions that are right for them. On reflection, the training that the RCP provides for mentors was an excellent foundation that enabled me to employ effective questioning, to use different types of mentoring techniques and to adopt the most appropriate category of intervention. My experience with the RCP mentoring scheme afforded me the opportunity to grow as a mentor and it has given me the confidence to seek to help other mentees in the future who are at different stages in their career as I progress through my own career.

Seeing a mentee excel gives me an immense sense of satisfaction and pride. I would strongly encourage senior physicians to become RCP mentors, as it has definitely been a rewarding and fulfilling experience.

Dr John Ong, WD Armstrong PhD fellow in tissue engineering, ST5 gastroenterology, Cambridge University, East of England Deanery