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I would like to thank Ng, Lynch, Kelly and Mba for their article analyzing the views of medical students who had participated in a mentoring programme whilst on their Obstetrics & Gynaecology attachment in the UK.
Devising methods of improving the learning experiences for medical students whilst on placement is vital to ensuring their professional readiness1 in facing their upcoming roles as junior doctors, practically and emotionally.
In the introduction, the authors provide a beautiful definition of a mentor from SCOPME2. I’d like to highlight that this definition includes the mentor being a ‘guide’ and being ‘empathic’. A guide is traditionally someone who shows another the way in a new environment to prevent them from getting lost; in many settings a guide is imperative. One could argue that students are given a Personal Tutor at the beginning of university who is a mentor in a way. This could be a good starting point, especially for more pastoral care – yet a clinical guide who is working closely with the student may be imperative as well, for the reasons emphasized by the student quotes in this article. The authors, therefore, concluded that clinical placement mentors for medical students should be more of a widespread practice.
Another key feature of these mentors is that they ‘volunteered’ to sign up, which identifies a key element of willingness to participate in the programme. If this programme became more widespread or...
Another key feature of these mentors is that they ‘volunteered’ to sign up, which identifies a key element of willingness to participate in the programme. If this programme became more widespread or mandatory, it may take away from the willingness of the volunteers stepping forward; and hence the general enthusiasm and empathy necessary to be a mentor.
One student stated that the mentorship programme helped him feel more welcomed to the team. For medical students, this is vital in improving confidence3, which in turn, increases subsequent exposure to learning opportunities as students are more likely to step forward after recognizing opportunities. For example, one student mentioned that she had the opportunity to take a collateral stroke history in an acute and emotive setting.
Overall, there seems to be many benefits to medical students of receiving mentorship whilst on placement, which are detailed in the article. Not mentioned, are the many benefits to the mentor as well. Mentorship helps develop skills of teaching, empathy and teamwork. Ongoing development of these skills as a doctor is crucial.
In order to implement this study more nationally, it needs to be reproducible in different Trusts- a limitation identified by the authors. Even so, a more informal programme would still benefit the students in a Trust that is less equipped.
Personally, I had a mentor who was a junior doctor as I was applying for medical school. Being totally new to the field, she gave me insider, experiential knowledge of medicine and guided me as I reflected on why I would like to be a doctor. Now, as a 4th year medical student, I feel I and my peers would exceedingly benefit from this mentorship programme at our Trusts. It would significantly abate our nervousness as soon to be doctors and improve our clinical competence.
Thank you and best wishes,
1. Hägg-Martinell A, Hult H, Henriksson P, et al
Medical students' opportunities to participate and learn from activities at an internal medicine ward: an ethnographic study
BMJ Open 2017;7:e013046. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2016-013046
2. Standing Committee on Postgraduate Medical and Dental Education. Supporting doctors and dentists at work: an enquiry in to mentoring. London: SCOPME, 1998.
3. Hameed Y, et al. Improving Medical Student Placements in Psychiatry: Review of Literature And A Practical Example. BJMP 2017;10(1):a1008.
4. Junior doctors need Continuous Professional Development (CPD) in soft skills [Internet]. The CPD Standards Office. 2016 [cited 27 January 2020]. Available from: https://www.cpdstandards.com/news/junior-doctors-need-continuous-profess...