11 April 2022 (Last updated: 5 May 2022 14:20)
The BSSH mentoring scheme is a new flagship project for the Society of which we should be rightly proud. Alex’s vision and ability to follow through have been absolutely essential to its success. He gathered the support of a small team who responded brilliantly to his enthusiasm, delivering a much needed and successful scheme. The BSSH would like to extend our profound gratitude to Alex Kocheta and Emma Brighton for their unstinting work on this project.
Meg Birks - Education and Training Committee Chair
The mentoring scheme was opened for Consultant hand surgeons in their first five years of practice in 2021, following a full day of mentor training in July 2021. This was held on Zoom and facilitated by Louise Wembridge Consulting. Feedback from the training day was very good. I have attended the Academy of Medical Sciences course on developing mentoring schemes on two occasions in 2020 and 2021, finding it to be extremely useful on both occasions and would recommend this to subsequent leads for the programme. Louise wrote information pamphlets for both mentors and mentees outlining best mentoring practice from both sides. These have been distributed to the scheme members and are available for future members.
Currently the scheme is active with 20 mentors and currently 14 mentees. One of the original mentor applicants dropped out before the training day. 18 mentee applications were received with four not meeting the criteria for entrance to the scheme (3 trainees, 1 not working in the UK). Advertisement of the scheme at conference was found to be very useful for recruitment of both mentors and mentees. Further promotion of the scheme at regular intervals will be crucial for ongoing success and vitality.
The type of matching process of mentors and mentees was discussed at several TEC meetings. Finally, the decision was left in the hands of the mentee as it was felt that the mentee must be comfortable with the choice of their mentor. Mentor bios were placed on the mentoring page of the BSSH web site and mentees asked to choose two mentors with which to have a ‘chemistry chat’. The final choice of mentor was fed back to Emma Brighton and I emailed the mentors to inform them of the decision. The mentor-mentee pair then went ahead to start the relationship with an initial time-limit of 1 year, which could be extended by mutual consent.
Emma Brighton has been instrumental in assisting with creating the web pages and the coordination of the scheme. My thanks go to her for this as well as her support. Kavita Prashar has also been of great help and I would like to thank her as well.
A matrix of mentors / mentees is maintained by myself and Emma. Standard letters relating to the pairing etc. are also maintained. Emma, myself, Vijay and Nick as the next mentor programme leads have access to all this information.
Several other surgical societies have been in touch regards advice and discussion on the set up and running of mentoring schemes including BAPRAS, BHS and BOA.
- A survey of the mentors and mentees is planned to go out this week to ensure that things are running smoothly and to gain feedback on the scheme. The results of this will be circulated to the committee shortly.
- A half-day mentoring refresher / debrief is scheduled for the morning of 27th April 2022 0900 – 1300. Notice of this has been sent out via the WhatsApp group and email by Emma. The cost of this will be £2067 and will be facilitated by Louise Wembridge.
- An article summarising the scheme for the BSSH bulletin will be submitted.
- I would like to thank the current and last three Presidents of the BSSH for their support and encouragement for this scheme. Executive-level support and continued funding of the scheme will be crucial to its ongoing success.
- Ongoing secretariat support for the scheme will be of utmost importance for coordination and to support the scheme lead(s)
- Regular contact with mentors and mentees including surveys will be important in maintaining engagement and smoothing out wrinkles in the system.
- The society should consider whether it wishes to widen the scope of the scheme. There will need to be regular e.g. 6-monthly or annual intakes for newly appointed Consultants, particularly as the pandemic-related recruitment freeze thaws. It is worth considering whether the committee wishes to open the scheme to Fellows or senior trainees (ST 7-8) interested in hand surgery.
- Those mentors who do not currently have assigned mentees will need to be kept engaged as they represent an important resource. Further entrants to the scheme will need to be allocated to them to maintain engagement and to spread the mentoring load.
As I have demitted from the Education and Training committee, I am now handing over the leadership of this programme to Vijay Bhaliak and Nick Riley as decided at a previous meeting. I would like to thank to committee, Jill Arrowsmith and Meg Birks for the opportunity to be involved in setting up this programme, which has been both interesting and enlightening. I will stay on as a mentor.
Alex Kocheta - Mentor Lead
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