Background: Senior doctors report that mentoring skills are transferable to everyday medical practice and managing juniors. An analysis of views from consultants and general practitioners, who had trained together on a regional mentoring scheme, reveals significant potential for personal and professional development in such networks.
Context: The Northern and Yorkshire Region Doctors' Development and Mentoring Network was set up in 1994. Since then there have been six programmes with 116 senior doctors participating. In 1997 there was an evaluation of the first four programmes.
Method: Focus groups and postal questionnaire.
Results: There were responses from 71 senior doctors, giving a response rate of 86%, and responses from 78 professional stakeholders in 49 NHS organizations, a response rate of 54%. Results indicate that the programmes were highly valued by the participants, particularly with regard to: being part of a network of senior doctors; developing mentoring skills, and engaging in personal and professional development. The most difficult part of the programme was setting up mentoring networks for junior doctors, and reasons included: personal factors, such as levels of confidence in providing mentoring; cultural factors, such as juniors not wishing to be seen to need help, and organizational factors, such as lack of time allocated for mentoring. RECOMMENDATIONS AND ISSUES FOR FURTHER DEBATE: The positive benefits from the scheme raise questions about how to develop mentoring training for senior doctors. Issues include: developing mentors; who needs mentoring; mentoring and the organization; transferability of mentoring skills, and widening the network.