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Applications for RACGP Mentoring Program set to close soon


Rosanne Barrett


25/03/2021 3:13:43 PM

The expanded program offers one-on-one mentoring that can help GPs’ wellbeing and fast track skills development.

Man in a video call on laptop
Many of the mentors from 2020’s cohort have returned this year.

Now in its second year, the 12-month RACGP Mentoring Program has already attracted scores of Fellows to its training and support services as mentors and mentees.
 
The peer-led program is designed to connect GPs with experienced colleagues outside their practice, in order to help them develop skills and expand their knowledge in specific areas.
 
Convenor of the Future Leaders Program and clinical lead of mentoring, Dr Mary Wyatt, told newGP the program provides a sounding board and guidance for mentees spanning New Fellows, mid-career GPs or those returning to the workforce from a professional break.
 
‘They get a bit of a sense of connection with the wider community,’ she said.
 
‘Often they might have moved to a new area, so they get that sense of connection. They also get the ability to build up new skills.
 
‘We can get isolated from the wider community and we don’t know who to go to. It’s that ability to feel connected to someone who is not just in your practice.’
 
She points to different mentee–mentor partnerships based around a Fellow’s hope to expand their medical education, business skills or specific clinical practice as benefits of the program. Mentors are expected to set short-term, medium-term and long-term goals during the process.
 
A comprehensive matching process involves mentees completing a survey about their skills and desired outcomes from mentoring, after which they can view a selection of videos of candidates and request a potential mentor. While mentees may not always get their choice, Dr Wyatt says the selection will always be informed and considered.
 
‘We try and match people who they think will be interesting to them,’ she said.
 
‘We always go back to them and say, “This person wasn’t available but we think this person could be interesting to you”, because we see the whole spectrum of people there.’
 
For the more senior GPs who take on the mentoring roles, she said it’s about giving back to the community of GPs.
 
‘A lot of them became mentors because they didn’t feel they were supported enough and they want to make sure the next generation of GPs, or GPs who might be in a similar situation, have someone who they can rely on,’ she said.
 
‘It’s about being able to support other GPs.’
 
There is training to support the program with two 120-minute facilitated webinars for mentors, then audio discussions, podcasts and other resources.
 
The training aims to provide an overview of the role of a mentor and develop an understanding of how to build networks and resilience, as well as distinguishing between the role of a mentor and a coach. Further education goes into increasing performance, establishing boundaries, active listening, and how to be an impartial mentor.
 
Dr Wyatt says many of the mentors from last year’s cohort have returned this year.
 
‘They love doing it,’ she said. ‘They do get a lot out of it. I was surprised at how many mentors really enjoyed the program and wanted to do it again.’
 
The program came about after a groundswell of RACGP members called for a college-run mentoring program.
 
‘In the New Fellows population, they felt they had a lot of support and training and then all of a sudden they had no support,’ she said.
 
‘They didn’t know where to go to. They really wanted that little bit of extra support they might have got from a supervisor. We’ve expanded it so it’s not just New Fellows, it’s for any GP.’
 
In a video to promote the program, one of the mentees from last year, Dr Paula Conroy, says mentoring allows her to grow professionally and emotionally.
 
‘It provided me with a chance to have a supportive relationship that gave me guidance and advice around career opportunities that I had maybe never considered,’ she said.
 
‘Mentoring is more important now, more than ever, because of the support and sense of connectedness it provides.
 
All of us are under immense pressure as GPs, as professionals and as human beings, and a mentoring relationship allows us to touch base with one another and to work through things.’
 
Applications close Monday 29 March and the next round of mentoring starts next month.
 
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