PM group mentoring: more than just an hour of awkward ice-breakers!
Dr Charlotte Bullock, ST4 Anaesthetics at Worcestershire Royal Hospital, talks about her experience being a Personal Mentor (PM) for the current medical students.
'To the graduate of the Birmingham Medical School, the ‘PM group’ will be a familiar term. For many of us, the PM group meeting represented a compulsory, biannual, hour-of-your-own-time of sitting awkwardly with students from other year groups, stating your name and an interesting fact. To others it may have provided a valuable support network, a first point of call. To me, as a PM tutor, it has been a fun way to support our future trainees and develop my own mentoring skills.
I am now in my fourth year as a Personal Mentor (PM). Having initially applied for some indulgent CV buffing in readiness for Registrar applications, I have found it a very rewarding experience. With my colleague, Professor Chris Buckley, I mentor PM group 10, a varied group of students of diverse interests and talents.
We have a group meeting twice a year, the most enjoyable by far being an informal, everyone-contributes meal at the Professor's house. I also have individual meetings with the students in years three to five, which is a great opportunity to get to know each student and provide support where needed. We act as a safety net for the welfare of the individual student, and if a specific issue is identified the Medical School ensures the right help is found.
Being a PM has also complemented my own professional development. Mentorship is a skill in itself, and something that is poorly covered during medical training. There is a point in your medical career where you suddenly find yourself supervising someone else, and in part, responsible for their development. A good mentor may prompt and encourage, but not interfere, and will provide feedback in a way that focuses on what that person needs.
Being a PM has helped me get better at these skills, whether through providing guidance on welfare issues, reviewing reflective reports, or supervising students to design and conduct their own Elective Project. It has also helped me keep in touch with the inspirations and challenges of the Med Student today, which I hope will make me a better supervisor and educator, and overall better doctor.
Being a PM isn’t particularly time consuming, but you need to be half-organised, and most importantly you need to be interested in your students. In my opinion, the only thing worse than having to write a reflective report, is having to write one that no-one can be bothered to read! My highlights have included having entertaining group meals, helping a tearful individual who has opened up about exam stresses, and seeing my early students start their first FY1 jobs. If you think you could be a PM, then I would recommend it!'
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