A qualitative study of mentoring and career progression among junior medical doctors

Rosaline O. Garr1 and Philip Dewe2

1Department of Paediatrics, St Helens & Knowsley Teaching Hospitals, Merseyside, UK

2Department of Organisational Psychology, Birkbeck University of London, UK

Submitted: 04/06/2013; Accepted: 23/11/2013; Published: 15/12/2013

Int J Med Educ. 2013; 4:247-252; doi: 10.5116/ijme.5290.ba70

© 2013 Rosaline O. Garr & Philip Dewe. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use of work provided the original work is properly cited. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

Objectives: To explore the perceptions of mentees of the role mentoring plays in developing a medical career and seeming advantages and disadvantages.

Methods: In this qualitative study, 21 mentored and non-mentored doctors in postgraduate specialty years one to eight were recruited from the Mersey deanery in England. Semi-structured interviews were used to assess perceptions of the mentored postgraduate trainees (mentees) and views of the non-mentored trainees. The interview transcripts were thematised using thematic analysis methods.

Results: Themes of how mentoring was understood by trainees were; a supportive relationship by someone senior providing advice and guidance and informal adviser relating to training and personal issues. Advantages included, someone who was approachable, trustworthy and empathetic who gave a wider and different perspective. Difficulty with mentoring occurred when confidentiality was broken as this potentially affected work/colleagues relationship. Lack of knowledge of what mentoring was, and obtaining a mentor were barriers. Facilitators included having identified peer mentoring facilitators, networking and ability to choose a mentor.

Conclusions: This study showed that mentoring was valued by postgraduate doctors in training, those who were mentored found mentoring to be important to their personal and professional development. Training for the mentor and mentee would help to manage expectations and ensure effective mentoring. Allocating a mentor to all trainees may normalise the concept of mentoring. A mentor should not be an assessor to their mentee as it raises issues of conflict of interest.