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By Craig Brown, Council Member

So you think you’ve found a mentor? Think again. ‘What next’ is a question I have been asking myself for over five years… what next? Where do I go in my career, my relationships and even my professional interests?

My career structure has been fairly predictable and, like most individuals in the NHS, it has been mapped in a linear fashion.  The progression from band 5 to 8 was literally by numbers. An effortless comfort born from the predictability of moving along the career conveyer belt; the challenge was mainly timing and location.

Unlike most Consultant appointments the N&AHP workforce seldom has such a sense of loyalty to a particular organisation; in fact it can be seen as detrimental.  We have all worked with individuals who have “been here for the past 20 years” and found the challenges that can accompany them.

So far I can’t imagine any of this is news to you, but what can be done? How do we stop the ossification or burn out?

Find someone. Find someone who can inspire, challenge and support.  Find someone who isn’t “you” and who isn’t from your professional world. Find someone to be accountable to and who will help you discover a different perspective. Find someone you admire and respect.

Find someone and ask them to be a mentor.

“But I already have one” – the person who is simply above you in your professional body can “mentor” you.  But what I’m talking about is finding someone outside of that world, someone who isn’t polishing you up to take over from them on the relevant committee or national body but someone who will explore a range of options and thoughts with you.

“Where do I find such a person” – look around you. Take time to consider the people you work with.  Who do you think has an interesting approach to work and life, has an interesting career path, or been involved in areas that you would like to know more about? Who can help you work through your concerns and help you come to your own conclusions?

Not everyone makes a good mentor, the rule of thumb is the ability to ask exploratory questions, rather than telling you what you should, or should not, do. Look for these people where you work; they exist.

Perhaps this is a service that the ICS should provide? We have a huge variety of brilliant members.

My mentor – she is fantastic – supportive, challenging and someone I respect.  She used to work in critical care, but I’m not going to tell you who she is…

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