I integrate mentoring approaches into all my coaching programmes for doctors and public health leaders. This means that while I always draw out the learning from the client’s own resourcefulness (coaching), I also offer the client the opportunity to draw out the learning from my own professional background and training if they wish (mentoring).
It can be confusing to tell the difference between coaches and mentors, coaching and mentoring. Not all coaches are mentors, and not all mentors are coaches. Both coaches and mentors may use coaching skills and mentoring skills. Skilled coaches and mentors are able to use both approaches depending on the client’s needs and preferences.
I will usually start on the left hand of the spectrum in every session (less directive), and will draw on my own professional expertise, depending on your context and needs (becoming more directive), but only ever with your consent.
Mentoring for doctors
When offering mentoring for medics, it is important to build the doctor’s own skills and self awareness through using coaching skills, to the left of the coaching and mentoring spectrum.
However, as well as coaching skills, many doctors are also looking for mentoring for doctors, or specifically for mentoring for medical leaders. They may also be looking for a medical mentor who can stretch them and teach them how to do various aspects of their role: such as when providing mentoring for GPs or mentoring for GP leaders to enable them to manage other members of staff, or mentoring for medical directors to enable them to learn specific skills to work at Board level.
A purely coaching approach would focus on enabling the doctor to draw on their own learning, and a purely mentoring approach would focus solely on teaching the doctor what to do. My approach as a coach and as a doctors career mentor is to integrate both approaches, while always requesting permission before using a more ‘teaching’ or mentoring approach so as not to undermine the doctor’s own autonomy.
Career mentoring for doctors
Medics career mentoring and GP career mentoring requires the coach to be able to offer expert career guidance using a specific form of mentoring known as medical career counselling. This requires a very high level of training in mentoring for doctors in order to undertake this complex area of coaching and mentoring practice.
Mentoring for public health leaders
Mentoring for public health leaders is similar to mentoring for doctors. I draw on my expertise as a coach, and also on my own medical and public health leadership career when mentoring public health leaders in order to enable the public health specialist to draw on my own expertise, when it is in service of their own leadership or career development.