Striking similarities between mentoring and treating

I’ve been taking a course from the Open University on Mentoring and Supervision. It’s a great course, I’d highly recommend it and it’s free – find it here  (There are some other courses available too.)

One of the things that struck me was the similarity between the role of the supervisor/mentor and what we do every day in clinic. The course divided the process of supervision into sections, I will look at them here so you can see how you might enhance your clinical skills through developing your supervision/mentoring skills.

Creating a supportive environment

Supervision needs to take place in an environment which is uninterrupted at a specific time and location. You need to be able to give the person your full attention and sufficient time needs to be allocated.

Setting up the first meeting

Before the first meeting you need to clarify the length of meeting, the aims of supervision – what to expect to get out of it and the location and time of meetings

You would expect the student to come having thought about their learning needs and aims of supervision. Together you would identify learning needs and set targets and break the targets down into steps.

Each supervision session will follow the same structure of starting by reviewing what has been done, considering where the sessions are heading and discussing the plan of action towards that goals, identifying any issues, difficulties or further needs along the way.


Supervision uses a progressive focussing model:

Open University

Open University

Looking at situations from different perspectives in order to help understanding and develop learning.

Ending Supervision

In the final supervision session you discuss how the process has gone identifying how the student has benefitted and progress made – what were they like at the beginning, where are they now?

Identify on-going support for the student – peer-support, work-place support and sources of online help with future assignments and reflective learning and development.

Identify how they continue to benefit from this supervision process by reminding them of key points of learning and learning strategies they have learnt.

I thought that 4 stage description gave a really good summary of the clinical process and how we in a way act like mentors helping patients towards agreed goals of achieving better health. It has made me think more succinctly about the treatment process and making sure that my patients and I are engaged on an agreed learning and developing journey. Next time you are struggling in clinic maybe you could benefit from using some mentoring skills to structure your treatments.

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