Mentoring in physiotherapy
By Dan Allard
When it comes to career development, one of the most effective things you can do is be involved in a mentoring scheme. This may be an official mentorship programme, or it could be a more informal relationship that you have developed with a fellow physiotherapist. Mentoring should nurture and guide you, and help to establish your personal growth. It can also help with self-awareness and self-reflection which is important for your CPD portfolio.
Those working in more senior physiotherapy jobs or practice educator roles spend considerable time training and supporting junior colleagues, particularly those new to the profession. Therefore, the principles and expectations of mentoring may seem familiar. But it’s important to choose your mentor carefully.
What should you look for in a mentor?
A mentor is someone that you can respect and learn from. Mentoring should be a long-term relationship. It’s about working with someone who you trust, who can act as a sounding board to give you objective advice throughout your career. They can give you insights into a different way of thinking and provide constructive feedback when you need it.
A mentor can also ensure that you remain accountable for your goals. Perhaps you’re interested in developing new clinical specialisms such as injection therapy or independent prescribing. A mentor will not only inspire and encourage you to achieve these specialisms but will hold you accountable if you don’t.
An article published in the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy’s Frontline magazine suggests that you should “remember that you’re not looking to become a clone. While having a mentor you admire is a must, seeking out those who are different to you in their approach and world view is beneficial.” The publication suggests that when choosing a mentor, you should find someone who can offer a different perspective. This may be someone who is working in a role where you want to be, especially if you do not see yourself represented by your profession. You may even find that your mentor works outside of the physiotherapy sector. Having someone who can be objective is important, so it’s worthwhile building links with those working in similar roles elsewhere.
How to find a physiotherapy mentorship scheme
If you feel that you would benefit from mentoring then you should speak to your line manager or HR department. Your NHS Trust may have internal mentoring programmes available that can match you with a suitable colleague.
Alternatively, the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy has a comprehensive mentoring scheme. The Signing up for the scheme is simple and you can choose to sign up as a mentor, a mentee, or both.
Another option to consider is the NHS Leadership Academy. This is specifically designed to support your development if you are seeking to improve your leadership skills. There are a wide range of programmes available (locally and nationally) as well as two dedicated mentoring programmes; ethical mentoring and return to work mentoring.