Identify the area of work
If you are interested in establishing a mentoring relationship you should first identify which areas of your work would benefit most from having the support of a mentor. Whilst most schemes are voluntary and may follow this process, mentoring can also be used as a condition of practice as directed by the GMC/NCAS.
Inform your line manager
You should then inform your line manager of your plans. You do not need permission to establish a mentoring relationship but it would be helpful to involve your line manager. Your mentor should be separate from your line manager and it is best not to involve anyone that has any management role in your performance.
Contact your deanery
Once you have considered your needs and discussed the idea with your line manager you should then contact your deanery to see if there is an existing mentorship scheme in your area. If you already have a potential mentor in mind then you should approach them and ask to set up a meeting about it. If they are not ready to commit to the relationship they may have suggestions for other colleagues or contacts in other organisations that could help. The majority of formal schemes match mentors to mentees by a third party who can assess the respective needs of both sides and facilitate an introductory meeting or set some ground rules.
Arrange your first meeting with the mentor
When you contact an individual who agrees to act as your mentor make sure that you arrange the first meeting at this point.
Make decisions on documentation
Mentoring can be formal or informal and there may be a good mentoring relationship with no documentation. However, many find documentation helpful to assist with their portfolio and some employers with formal schemes in place ask for some documentation. If this is the case you may be creating a number of documents during this process which you should keep together safely. Some of these will require signatures so it is recommended that you print paper copies and use a binder or folder as your portfolio record.
Set the groundrules
In your first meeting with your mentor you should set the ground rules for discussion (eg confidentiality), discuss the boundaries as well as objectives, goals, frequency of meetings etc. Confidentiality is a key component of mentoring and both mentor and mentee should feel able to speak freely.
Use a checklist
You may decide to use a meeting checklist such as that available on the Connecting for Health Mentoring toolkit for your first meeting. There are also model 'contracts' and 'session records' available to assist the process and keep track of issues discussed and actions planned.
NHS Mentoring Schemes
Several mentoring schemes are available across the NHS. Connecting for Health are aiming to produce a list of schemes on their website. The Midlands, London, North West and Yorkshire and the Humber already have established mentor schemes and several other employers across the UK are embracing the benefits that mentoring can bring. Some Royal Colleges can also provide mentoring support.
Ask your clinical director, human resources department, college or local deanery for information on any mentoring scheme in your area.