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Mentoring new GPs: experiences from GP Career Start in County Durham

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Richard Bregazzi, Nigel Van Zwanenberg


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A number of salaried, post-vocational training schemes for new general practitioners have been developed to facilitate the transition from registrar to principal. All incorporate mentoring as a means of supporting the young doctor. One such is GP Career Start, a two-year scheme established by County Durham Health Authority in response to a local GP recruitment crisis. This paper describes the experience of the first cohort of seven Career Start Doctors (CSDs) after one year of Career Start, and discusses the use of mentoring to support new GPs. Method. An interview survey of the seven CSDs and their seven mentor GPs. Results. CSDs worked in 'mentor practices', with no on-call duties and fewer management and administrative duties than principals. They benefited from more involvement in their practices, more continuity of care and more responsibility than locums. The main benefit to mentor practices was a reduction in GP workload. CSDs made progress towards their learning objectives by a combination of training and development activities within their mentor practices, study leave and a weekly self-directed group learning session. Mentoring was the least satisfactory process. There was a lack of coherent practice to justify the term, mentors were ill-equipped for the role, and difficulties were reported. Conclusion. The practice of mentoring is shrouded in some confusion, both in the field and in the general practice literature, yet it could be a useful mechanism to support the transition of young GPs from registrar to established principal. Experience in County Durham suggests that successful mentoring in this context depends on having a clear and limited purpose, time, adequate training, and the formation of a relationship that is uncomplicated by power dynamics or role conflict. Colleagues need options to choose their mentors, a negotiable process and a mechanism to review the relationship. GP tutors are well placed to act as mentors for newly qualified GPs.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Bregazzi R, Harrison J, Van Zwanenberg T

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Education for General Practice

Year: 2000

Volume: 11

Issue: 1

Pages: 58-64

Print publication date: 01/01/2000

ISSN (print): 1367-8523

ISSN (electronic): 1475-990X

Publisher: Radcliffe Publishing Ltd.