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SOM Mentoring Scheme: An opportunity for professional development

Posted by Ann Caluori | Thu, 17/06/2021 - 10:13


Guest blog by Dr Nikki Cordell


"The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are." – Carl Gustav Jung


In 1998, the Standing Committee of Postgraduate Medical and Dental Education recommended that all medical practitioners should have access to mentoring. In the report they define mentoring as a ‘process whereby an experienced, highly regarded, empathic person (the mentor), guides another individual (the mentee) in the development and re-examination of their own ideas, learning, and personal and professional development.’[1]  Evidence has demonstrated that mentoring not only stretches and challenges the mentee in their professional practice but also positively affects personal wellbeing and general development.[2]


The SOM is launching a pilot scheme in September 2021 as part of its Future Leaders programme. If the pilot is successful, the scheme will then be open for application to all members of the SOM on a voluntary basis who would like to develop their leadership skills within the specialty. Matching will be undertaken to ensure that mentors’ experiences match the mentee’s short, medium and long term goals. A formal evaluation will be conducted for the SOM after six months of the scheme being introduced.


What is mentoring?

Mentoring is a form of development, which concentrates on building capability. The key objective of mentoring is to assist the mentee in discovering their potential and realising their aspirations. The flow of learning is two-way with both mentor and mentee benefiting from the partnership.


Rather than a relationship focusing on educational needs, which can be delivered through other educational opportunities, mentoring focuses on the mentee being stretched and challenged as well as supported. In this way, the mentee can benefit from the mentor’s wider experience and put this into perspective, which in turns allows mutual new learning. Mentors will empower mentees to take charge of their own direction, focusing on their potential which in turn will develop their leadership skills and ability to influence.


How will mentoring benefit me?

Mentoring is a complex relationship, which significantly differs from that of an educational supervisor, trainer/coach or line-manager. It is based on mutual understanding of mentor and mentee rather than set outputs. It is therefore particularly powerful during times of transition or to assist personal growth. Luckily, for many professionals, this process happens on an informal basis to their benefit allowing them to achieve their potential. This process has now been formally recognised within the medical profession in the development of a wider audience through a more formalised scheme.


The benefits of mentoring to you as a mentee will include:

  • Increasing your knowledge and experience in your field.
  • Maximising your performance and realising your potential.
  • Improving your problem-solving abilities.
  • Building your confidence in different and more challenging situations.
  • Developing your leadership skills within the context of your career aspirations and goals.
  • Widening your professional network and influence within and beyond the speciality.

Further information about the power of mentoring can be found here.


Next steps

If you are early in your career as an occupational health professional and you want to lead the specialty into a new era fit for the 21st century and beyond, we would encourage you to apply for this new opportunity at



  This is the third in our series of Leadership blogs. Read the first blog here and second here.

  Find out more about our series of Leadership webinars here.

  SOM members have access to Leadership resources in the Membership Area.


[1] Standing Committee on Postgraduate Medical and Dental Education. In: Supporting Doctors and Dentists at Work: An Enquiry into Mentoring. London: SCOPME; 1998.

[2] Steven A, Oxley J, Fleming WG. Mentoring for NHS doctors: perceived benefits across the personal–professional interface. J.R. Soc Med 2008:101;552-557.