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In Homer's poem The Odyssey, ‘Mentor’ was a trusted friend of Odysseus who was charged with caring for his son, Telemachus, when Odysseus departed for the Trojan War. In this role, he served as role model, encourager, counsellor, teacher, guardian, protector and ‘kindly parent’. He was a ‘trusted adviser’, and shared wisdom, challenged and promoted Telemachus’ career and actively engaged him in a deep, personal relationship.
In their article, Mellon and Murdoch-Eaton1 draw parallels between the educational supervisor role, which has been brought into sharp focus by new General Medical Council (GMC) Standards,2 and the process of mentorship for doctors in training. Their article highlights the challenges of newer models of training with shorter training in reduced hours, lack of an apprenticeship model and loss of a traditional ‘firm structure’ with opportunities for extended informal observation. They address the potential confusion in nomenclature between ‘clinical’ and ‘educational’ supervision and the responsibility for goal setting and ‘competence-based assessment’. They acknowledge that useful feedback may be compromised by a broad curriculum requirement and greater content expertise.
However, the professional development of trainees is dependent on effective educational supervision, and trainees’ value less task-focused supervision and more time available for informal feedback from a trusted, experienced colleague. Much has been written about the importance of good role modelling—appropriate intervention and a supportive learning environment to facilitate a safe environment for patient care and security for doctors in training. It is, therefore, timely that this paper focuses on the development …