How mentoring helped me find my way back to General Practice

Some time ago I was feeling disillusioned with my work and I was very stressed. At this point I was working as a part-time salaried GP at a busy inner city practice, which was understaffed. I was unhappy with my workload and the way I was working. It felt as though I was merely fighting fires and not enjoying my work as I had done previously.

I felt that I was at what seemed to be crossroads in both my career and personal life and I felt uncertain who I should turn to for impartial help and support. I happened to attend an educational meeting as part of my protected learning time where I found out about a free mentoring service.

This could not have come at a better time for me. I was also under stress at home. My mother had been very unwell following a stroke and a long stay in hospital and my father had recently passed away.

I was fortunate to have 4 sessions of mentoring with an experienced, empathetic mentor, which enabled me to view my situation from a more objective perspective. With the support and encouragement of my mentor I was able to reconnect with my hopes and aspirations for the future and to focus on what was really important to me in order to realise a more positive and optimistic outlook.

The passing of my father was a powerful catalyst to my prioritising my personal values in order to live my life and feel truly energised, peaceful and fulfilled.

I now have what might be called a portfolio career. My work is concentrated on the areas where my true passions lie in writing and mental health. It is equally important that I am able to work flexibly on these projects to have the possibility to devote the time I feel I need to my family responsibilities which are paramount to me now.

In the coming months I plan to return to General Practice as a part-time GP Locum, having had a break of 18 months to care for my mother. This way of working allows me the flexibility and the right work life balance, which also enhanced my own health and wellbeing.

I would highly recommend using a mentoring service. I see it as a positive way to navigate the challenges life presents us with, whilst exploring different options for career and personal development in a highly supportive environment.

My one concern at the outset of the mentoring process was that the discussions would be very general and not specific to my individual needs. This was not the case. The methods used in the mentoring process meant I received a  personalised service. All mentees are individuals with unique needs and are treated as such.

This is a very valuable service which I think should ideally be more widely available. At a point when GP recruitment and retention are waning we cannot afford to overlook the place of mentoring.

Hopefully the vital nature of knowledge sharing will be increasingly recognised in the future and will no doubt continue to have a major impact both on improving morale and job satisfaction amongst GPs country wide.

-Kindly provided by an anonymous GP, taking advantage of the GP-S service.

If you’re interested in accessing a free mentoring service, GP-S could be of help.

GP-S is a project that was originally funded by Health Education England working across the East Midlands and NHS England locally to provide GPs, practice managers and practice nurses with free, confidential mentoring and signposting.

The service has been running since July 2015 in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire joined GP-S in the last year. The team are exploring extending the service to other areas in the region now that the model is fit to scale-up. Over 100 GPs have used the scheme so far, with many who had considered leaving the profession remaining as GPs often working in a different way.

All GP-S mentors were originally GPs – many are appraisers and/or involved in training and education.

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