Career Focus

Briefing

BMJ 1998; 317 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.317.7165.3 (Published 17 October 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;317:S3-7165

Mentoring for doctors is a vague concept, though there seem to be almost as many definitions of what it actually means as there are schemes designed to promote it. The latest contribution to the literature comes from the Standing Committee on Postgraduate Medical and Dental Education (SCOPME) The word “annexe” in a table of contents is usually a sure guide to ensuing unreadability, but annexe 3, appendix 1 conceals an essay worthy of wide circulation. Playdon's artful deconstruction of the Mentor myth is a delight. (Mentor was an “ineffectual manager” and “neither use nor ornament” to Telemachus). The report also includes valuable, if prosaic, accounts of individuals' and schemes' experiences with mentoring, and useful reporting from other professions.

The principal lessons: mentoring should be informal, separate from assessment, and confidential, and prospective mentors should be trained. SCOPME Supporting doctors and dentists at work: an enquiry into mentoring. London: SCOPME, 1998.

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