Dr Gareth Lewis, chief registrar mentor at Antrim Area Hospital, Northern Ireland shares seven helpful steps as a chief registrar mentor to help chief registrars succeed!
Royal College of Physicians chief registrar mentors new to supervising the role often ask in which type of projects their chief registrars should invest for significant personal and organisational growth. Here, I share seven steps for mentors to help their chief registrars succeed.
1. Develop chief registrar character then competencies
It is probable that the chief registrar may wish to work as a consultant in your hospital, so you want a colleague who will add value over time to the organisation not just as a clinical ‘ologist’ but as a professional leader. Trust, openness, humility, integrity, patience, a civil tongue and empathic listening can all vanish when the heat is on. Be explicit in modelling these and other behaviours when under pressure. Expect and support them to do the same with those around them. Character-driven engagement is far more likely to get stuff done than deploying a smooth, efficient and brilliant-but-cold registrar who people neither trust nor respect.
2. Know your chief registrar
Identify with them their strengths and weaknesses so that you can help them to reach the elastic limit of their strengths and prevent weaknesses from restricting their potential. Are they able to get on well with diverse groups but are prone to avoid conflict? Support them to take on a contentious piece of work or change management so they can hone those skills of facilitation, setting direction and forging agreement. Whatever the results, your debriefing will grow them as persons and professionals.
Chief registrars are there to deliver projects not necessarily do them. It is wrong for the chief registrar to wholly design, communicate, implement, data gather and quality improve a piece of work – that is ‘doing’ the project. A better use of their time is to delegate real responsibility within the project team and hold colleagues to account. This will of course look different when it is an F2 doctor rather than a senior consultant being held to account, but the principle remains.
One F2 doctor I know told her consultant, quite constructively, that he was her QI project… a structured approach to ward rounds with simple measures and PDSA cycles yielded the fruit of a more comfortable and efficient working day. Many problems can be tackled using QI thinking. However, it is likely that your chief registrar may not have the specialist skills to implement a methodologically robust QI project. So, quickly get your band 8 service improvement manager working closely with your chief registrar. This is the person whose effortless production of run charts, driver diagrams, process maps, meeting notes and action logs will keep the jobbing chief registrar on track.
5. Complete and convert
While there is much to be gained from meandering chief registrar journeys, it is useful to actually arrive at a destination occasionally. Publications, presentations, IT innovations, educational resources, peer-support activities and embedded QI initiatives are all tangible evidence of the chief registrar’s time with you. Furthermore, align the chief registrar with projects they can finish that will demonstrate both service user benefit and cost savings in order to evidence the value of the chief registrar role more widely.
6. Off with their heads!
Have a mid-point review to prune the projects in which your chief registrar is involved. Narrow the scope of some pieces of work so they will complete or reach a point where they can be handed over by the end of the rotation. Have honest conversations, and with a clear conscience ‘chop off’ (remove) stale projects, meetings, commitments and other non-value adding impedimenta. This can be of great benefit if, due to unrealistic ambitions, complete and convert doesn’t look like it will happen any time soon.
7. No success without succession
Every year in my trust we add new things to our induction programme and business-as-usual activities because of chief registrar projects. During the mid-point review, encourage your chief registrar to plan for handover and succession of some of their more important work. ‘How will project X continue if you are run over by a bus?’ is a telling, if somewhat morbid, inquiry into project resilience.
Find more information on the Royal College of Physicians Chief Registrar Programme here.