There is no substitute for talking with colleagues about cases, clients and how we are feeling. It is how we learn how best to approach a case, how to communicate with clients and colleagues and how we develop an understanding of the emotional impact our work has on us. Our professional journey will, hopefully, be a long and fulfilling one, one in which we improve the lives of our patients and their owners, and it is vital that we have a trusted colleague to discuss our successes, difficulties, worries, hopes, someone to help us find the best road for us. This is why having a mentor is a must, not just for new graduates, but for all of us, whatever stage in our careers we are at.
Having the right mentor has the potential to allow us to flourish in our careers, to understand our strengths and weaknesses, to share and celebrate success and to find the right help for our professional progression. It is not enough to randomly assign a mentor to a mentee in a “box-ticking” fashion. Mentors must want to be mentors and they must have a deep interest in helping and guiding mentees. Mentors do not necessarily need to have formal training, and a guide to what being a mentor means can be viewed in this very useful guide from Manchester Metropolitan University;
Having a successful mentor system in place will not only help the individuals, but it will also help to improve the performance of the practice as a result of improved management of cases and better communication.
In conjunction with regular, productive team meetings, mentoring will make sure that colleagues are supported and developed, the best practice based on the best current evidence will be provided to our patients and clients, communication at all levels will be improved, clients will feel more confident in the care that is being provided by the practice, and individual practices and the profession alike will flourish.