All new registrants graduate as clinically safe and competent practitioners. However, research commissioned by the GOsC (New Graduates’ Preparedness to Practise, Freeth et al, 2012) has shown that they often encounter difficulties in accessing high-quality professional support once they leave the relatively supportive environment of their osteopathic educational institution. This and the lack of a professional career structure in osteopathy have always made the transition to postgraduate practice challenging and these difficulties are particularly acute among (but are not limited to) new registrants who go into sole practice early in their professional lives, because of the potential for professional isolation. Freeth et al stated that participants in their study commonly reported gaps in business and entrepreneurial skills, patient management skills and interpersonal and communication skills.
Mentoring is a formal, structured personal developmental relationship in which a person is guided by a more experienced or knowledgeable person, often in the same field. It can help to guide learning needs and is guided by the agenda of the mentee. Mentoring is a recognised method of enhancing knowledge and skills in professionals at all levels of achievement and experience.
The focus of this project is to research how best to incorporate mentoring into osteopathy so that new practitioners have the opportunity to access high-quality mentoring, ensuring that they can develop and sustain themselves in practice and reducing the risks associated with professional isolation.
The project will investigate the mechanisms already in place, determine the most suitable approaches for mentoring recent graduates, and is currently piloting a programme that can be integrated into the profession.