In 2014 we received the Joan Dawkins Award for research into doctors’ Health and Wellbeing. We are a team of four and our successful bid was prompted by our combined experience and interest in mentoring and its unanticipated effects – those implicit gains in practice we had seen from working in our various professional fields as academics, practitioners and researchers.
By exploring the relationship between engagement in mentoring activities and doctors’ health and well-being, we aimed to develop a greater understanding of the impacts and potential value of mentoring in the workplace. Our 3 year study was in three phases:
It has been a rewarding and fascinating experience so far - it is not often one gets the opportunity to research a valuable developing field, the outputs of which promise to be of both practical and theoretical use.
So far, we have completed and published stage one of the project, the systematic narrative review, which found that mentoring influenced collegiate relationships, networking and aspects of personal well-being, such as confidence, stress-management, and was valued by doctors as a specialist support mechanism. Details can be found in The Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine 2017 (doi: 10.1177/01410768117700848).
Stage two and three of the project have recently been completed and we are in the process of finalising our concluding report. But we can tell you that our work is indeed showing links between mentoring activities and the reported health and well-being of mentees and mentors.
The support of the BMA Foundation for Medical Research has given us both a wonderful opportunity to begin to unpick mentoring as a support mechanism for doctors and to disseminate and discuss findings at national and international conferences, including the international conference on Evidence Based Health Care held in Sicily in October this year.
We feel there is much scope to further our research and look forward to building on this study. Indeed doctors are key to health systems and high quality patient care and therefore the enhancement of doctors’ health and well-being is crucial – and perhaps especially pertinent at this time of challenge within the NHS.
By Dr Alison Steven and Dr Nancy Redfern