When the student becomes the teacher

Morgan Liotta

20/09/2022 3:00:25 PM

With applications for the RACGP Mentoring Program opening soon, a GP who has seen both sides is offering her whole-hearted endorsement.

GPs talking
Applications for the 2023 RACGP Mentoring Program are open for the month of October.

In 2020, Adelaide Hills GP Dr Skye Curlis joined the RACGP Mentoring Program as a mentee, as she was interested in practice ownership and could see the value in having an experienced colleague to seek guidance from.
‘The support I received helped me realise that it wasn’t an avenue that I wanted to pursue, which freed me up to pursue other opportunities,’ she told newsGP.
‘[But] it was great to have the opportunity to discuss the issues through with a colleague who had the relevant experience.’
Fast-forward two years and Dr Curlis is now the one dispensing advice, as mentor of a young GP whose commitment to being a good GP is ‘inspirational’.
She says the transition from mentee to mentor has been a valuable step in her general practice career and being able to guide others.
‘I decided to take part in the program as a mentor as I could see the benefits,’ Dr Curlis said.
‘I am lucky to have been assigned a mentee who is a very capable registrar … it’s been satisfying watching her find her feet and settle into general practice.’
The RACGP-led program aims to provide early career GPs with an experienced mentor to provide professional and personal guidance on how to manage the challenges that may arise in general practice.  
It is seeking experienced GPs who are passionate about their profession and interested in supporting GPs in the early stages of their career, as well as early career GPs who would benefit from the support of a GP mentor. 
For Dr Curlis, being part of the mentoring group has been a ‘worthwhile’ experience.
‘The transition from mentee to mentor was a smooth one,’ she said.
‘The program includes some formal instruction around mentoring and there are regular sessions where mentors meet to discuss their progress and workshop any problems they may have encountered.’

Dr-Skye-Curlis-article.jpgFor Dr Skye Curlis, the transition from mentee to mentor has been a valuable step in her general practice career.

Having worked in a variety of regional and remote settings since gaining Fellowship in 2011, Dr Curlis moved to the Adelaide Hills with her family five years ago and has since been working at Littlehampton Medical Centre.
After deciding practice ownership was not for her, she decided to undertake rural generalist training and is currently completing her Advanced Specialised Training in Emergency Medicine at Mount Barker Hospital. Keen to become more involved with the processes that help to shape the health system, she also joined the RACGP SA&NT Council in 2019 and the RACGP Rural Council in 2021.
A participant in the 2022 RACGP Future Leaders Program cohort, Dr Curlis has also set up a membership group that aims to provide a support structure for local GPs through networking and sharing educational resources. She is currently meeting with potential sponsors to help determine the group’s future.
‘I would recommend the Mentoring Program to other GPs,’ Dr Curlis said.
‘General practice can be quite isolating, and the program provides a great opportunity to gain peer support – whether it be generally or for a specific reason.’
Available to all RACGP members, the CPD-accredited Mentoring Program provides mentors and mentees with matching, training and support services over 10 months, in addition to strengthening:

  • social and emotional wellbeing
  • collegiality and connectivity between colleagues
  • confidence in communication and leadership skills
  • motivation, job satisfaction and self-worth
  • relationships with patients and colleagues
  • career progression
  • clinical knowledge and skills.
Applications for the Mentoring Program officially open 1 October and close 31 October. Further information is available on the RACGP website.
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