5. Mentoring

The mentoring project aims to develop a suitable professional support framework for osteopaths at an early stage in their careers, which will support them in the development of a successful practice.

Why is a mentoring scheme for osteopathy important?

Mentoring is a formal, structured personal development relationship that can help to guide learning needs and is about an ongoing relationship of learning, dialogue and challenge.

Many newly graduated osteopaths suggest that they struggle with the transition between their undergraduate training environment and professional practice. Developing a culture of mentoring within the profession will encourage experienced osteopaths to pass on their learning to the next generation of osteopaths. It will reduce the risk of professional isolation and encourage unity within the profession.

Project background

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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 has 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 recognised method of enhancing knowledge and skills in professionals at all levels of achievement and experience and has been demonstrated to be a useful tool for addressing such issues. Mentoring can be a useful way for a person to access guidance from a more experienced or knowledgeable person, often in the same field and is guided by the agenda of the mentee.

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.

Initial research phase

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Initial research for the project took place in 2015 – 2016.  One of the recommendations from this research was to produce a guide to help osteopaths to develop mentoring skills so that they could better support more newly qualified osteopathic colleagues. A mentoring toolkit was developed and piloted with the profession in 2017 (Please see below.)

Download the Osteopathic Mentoring Toolkit

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The mentoring toolkit details the difference that mentoring can make to you, the osteopathic profession, and the care you provide to your patients. You will also find useful links to further reading materials and reflective tools that can help you to develop a successful mentoring relationship. It is available to download here. You can also download the mentoring templates as editable word documents here.

Project team

The project team includes representatives from the Institute of Osteopathy (Matthew Rogers), the General Osteopathic Council (Tim Walker), and osteopathic educational institutions (Ollie Thomson, Lucy Mackay-Tumber).

Contact

If you are an experienced osteopath and are interested in undergoing a training course to enhance your mentoring skills, please contact Matthew Rogers: matthew@iosteopathy.org