Intended for healthcare professionals

Career Focus


BMJ 2004; 328 doi: (Published 01 May 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;328:s173
  1. Rhona MacDonald, editor of Career Focus
  1. careerfocus{at}

“Mentoring” for doctors is a current hot topic. But what is it exactly? Advice, coaching, support, and encouragement are some of the many meanings that doctors associate with the term. Once they know what it is, do doctors want it and, if so, what form of “mentorship” do they want?

Last week, a conference in Nottingham explored some of the ways forward for mentoring in medicine. The conference organiser said that delegates left with the question, “How can we go away from here and make a difference?” Always a good question to ask, and there will be a web network to continue the discussion for anyone interested (contact peter.harborow{at} for more details).

Jolyon Oxley, honorary secretary of the National Counselling Service for Sick Doctors, has completed a substantial piece of work for the Department of Health on mentoring for doctors. He found that there were more than 50 mentoring schemes in England alone and that everyone involved in them, as either mentors or mentees, perceives the experience extremely positively (see p 179 and for more details). He hopes that mentorship within medicine becomes part of the culture but also advises making the most of all informal opportunities. He says, “If you think that you will benefit from mentorship go and bang on someone's door and ask for it.”

The UK charity Timebank, is asking for volunteer mentors to give support and encouragement to refugees as they settle into their new communities. Volunteer mentors spend about five hours a month with their mentees, helping them with anything from writing a CV, practising their English, and explaining how the job market works. The mentoring scheme is currently operating in London, Birmingham and Glasgow, matching over 300 refugees to date. If you would like to find out more go to

View Abstract