Imperial College London

Mentoring in the Faculty of Medicine


Mentoring in the Faculty of Medicine

The Faculty is committed to mentoring, recognising the role it can play in supporting career advancement and increasing effectiveness and confidence.

There are six active mentoring schemes in the Faculty, collaborating on advertising mentoring, training and supporting mentors and making cross Departmental matches when needed. Any staff member (academic, teaching, research, professional, operational and technical) who wants a mentor now can complete a brief on-line request form and the process of finding a suitable match will start.

Fiona Richmond, Lead Organisational Development Consultant from Imperial’s Learning and Development Centre answers some questions around the subject of mentoring in the Faculty of Medicine.

What is Mentoring?

It involves one person supporting the learning, development and progress of another. It’s based on a relationship of trust and mutual respect. It is separate from line management or the established hierarchy and remains confidential. It takes place through a series of conversations over an agreed period of time. The mentor offers a safe space, a sounding board, new perspectives, advice, support and challenge with the intention of empowering the mentee. The mentee remains in control of the outcome: it is their choice what action to take.

Why is it so important?

Mentoring is widely accepted as having a beneficial impact on effectiveness, confidence and career advancement. It offers people time, space and attention to manage challenging transitions, to overcome obstacles and to progress.

It works well because people choose it: it works best when it is voluntary. The mentee seeks mentoring at a time when they can make best use of it and their motivation is consequently high. Similarly the mentor offers their time, energy, experience and expertise in the cause of the mentee’s development.

Because it sits out side of the line management relationship it enables the mentee and mentor to explore issues without the operational demands impinging and the need for self-censorship to skew the conversations.

Faculty of Medicine has high expectations of every member of staff. Meeting these expectations while also looking after oneself and steering one’s own career is a challenge. In SID level focus groups over the past few years a recurring theme has been that people from all staff groupings talked about how much they would value being able to access a mentor and talk about their career, aspirations and challenges separate from their line managers. The mentoring schemes are designed to meet that need.

Who is it for?

The schemes are open to all staff – academic, teaching, early career researchers, professional, operational and technical.

Mentoring is particularly useful at times of transition, challenge or when faced with particular obstacles.

What makes a good mentor?

There is a considerable variety in mentors: their personalities and how they come across. However they all need a genuine interest in the success and progress of others combined with a preparedness to learn and reflect upon their experiences of being a mentor in order to improve. In addition there are some attributes that are associated with being an effective mentor including a degree of self-awareness, the ability to create and sustain positive relationships, to listen well and ask exploratory questions, to offer fresh perspectives and to offer advice with care.

What makes a good mentee?

Mentees are responsible for their own learning throughout the mentoring process: they choose what action to take or not take. In order to make the most of mentoring they actively shape the conversations; bringing issues of concern and interest; they are open and honest about themselves; they are curious and open to new ideas and approaches.

How will we ensure the mentoring schemes are effective?

Professor Clare Lloyd, in her capacity as Vice Dean for Institutional Affairs in the Faculty of Medicine, has been tasked with taking a particular interest in the development of mentoring in the Faculty. It is also a regular item at Faculty and SID level Athena/Development Opportunities committees where operational issues and improvements are discussed.

Feedback from all mentees is collected regularly via the Learning and Development Centre with that information being used to improve the processes and practices of the scheme. Learning from that activity is also fed back into the mentor briefings, used to update the on-line resources available for both mentor and mentee and provide material for on-going mentor development.

Find out more about Mentoring in the Faculty of Medicine.


Kathryn Johnson

Kathryn Johnson
Department of Surgery & Cancer

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