Mentoring for Optometry Professionals

Do you want to talk to someone impartial about your career and development options?

Have you recently returned to work, or moved into a new role that you are finding a challenge?

Do you feel you need to evaluate your work-life balance or manage your time differently?

As part of the national Primary Care Health and Wellbeing Programme, GPMplus has secured funding to pilot peer mentoring for NHS Optometry professionals working within North Yorkshire & Humber and West Yorkshire Primary Care Services.

The overarching aim of the peer mentoring pilot is to improve resilience and retain experienced professionals working in primary care.

GPMplus believes it is imperative that healthcare professionals receive mentoring support from mentors who truly understand the challenges within primary care. Therefore our model is based on peer mentoring; we have recruited mentors who have real experience of Optometry in Yorkshire. If you are interested in mentoring, please read our charter and the information below.

What can GPMplus mentoring help me with?

Our mentors can help you to:

  • Move forward with personal and career goals
  • Work through a problem
  • Consider opportunities
  • Manage transitions positively
  • Build confidence
  • Improve your work life balance
  • Build your resilience
  • Achieve your aspirations

GPMplus Optometrist mentoring is suitable for:

  • Optometrists
  • Dispensing Opticians
  • Managers

Who are in a role with leadership and decision making responsibilities and deliver NHS Primary Care services within North Yorkshire and Humberside or West Yorkshire

If you deliver part NHS and part private services, you are eligible for GPMplus mentoring.

GPMplus mentoring can support anyone from the above list who would like to explore ways to develop themselves, or who have a career problem or opportunity they’re not sure how to move forward with. Whilst the mentoring service is aimed at supporting you professionally, we are aware that personal and professional issues intertwine, and you will have the opportunity to discuss anything you wish. We aim to build resilience in the Primary Care workforce by allowing you time and space to develop your personal goals.

It is important that you understand what a GPMplus mentor cannot do, so you do not have unrealistic expectations.

They cannot act as a counsellor, nor can they give you “the answer” to your situation, however they will journey with you and empower you to progress to whatever is right for you.

In some cases you may be advised that mentoring is not suitable for you at the current time. For example if you are currently accessing the NHS Practitioner Health service it may be more beneficial for you to consider mentoring once your health concern has been addressed or is stable.

You will be offered up to 8 hours of 1:1 mentoring support, provided by trained and experienced mentors, all of whom have experience of working in your area of Primary Care.

Your GPMplus mentor will be a Primary Care professional who will be able to listen to you and understand your situation. They can act as a soundboard. They will explore your situation with you in a way that will help you progress. They may reflect your thoughts back to you, to help you throw light on things and suggest how you may move forwards. They may also signpost you to other resources.

As these areas of work are directly supported by local commissioners, the service is free at the point of access. The availability of access to mentoring will be subject to and dependent upon commissioner funding support.

The content of the mentoring is absolutely confidential. The only exceptions are if the mentor has concerns about your safety, patient safety or there are probity issues. In these situations the mentor will sign post you to further support.

You will be given access to the GPMplus mentoring portal where you can view details of your mentoring sessions, including notes shared between you and your mentor – these notes are strictly confidential between you and your mentor, they cannot be accessed by the GPMplus service.

All of us will have had one or more informal supportive relationships at some time in our professional lives. However once we become primary care professionals we often spend all of our energy supporting others. This can mean that in times of challenge or transition we can be reluctant or too pressured to seek support or refreshing input.

For all of us there are times when a confidential chat with an empathetic colleague with no vested interest can make a huge positive difference and keep us in control and enthusiastic, whether we need support or challenge to develop ourselves further.

There are several principles that underlay the mentoring relationship:

  • The LEARNING RELATIONSHIP IS A THE HEART OF CHANGE
  • The CONTEXT is work
  • The MENTEE sets the agenda and is resourceful
  • The MENTOR facilitates LEARNING AND DEVELOPMENT
  • The OUTCOME is CHANGE
  • The FRAMEWORK for the change process provides movement and direction
  • The SKILLS develop insight, release potential and deliver results
  • The QUALITIES of the MENTOR affirm, enable and sustain the MENTEE
  • ETHICAL PRACTICE, safeguards and enhances the Mentoring

There has been considerable debate in literature comparing and contrasting mentoring and coaching. What is described in one organisation as mentoring may be known in another as coaching. Whilst there are differences in the nature of the relationship (mentors often have experience of the type of situations the mentee brings, a coach not necessarily so) there are many similarities in the skills, tools and approaches a mentor or coach uses.

“Coaching and Mentoring are learning relationships which help people to take charge of their own development, to release their potential and to achieve results which they value”

(Connor and Pokora 2007)

‘Both are based around a “one to one relationship that provides an opportunity for individual to reflect, learn and develop”’

(Jarvis 2004)

‘Both activities base their assumptions on the basic values and beliefs: that humans have the ability to change: that they make the best choices available to them: that the process is a journey not a quick fix and the process of learning is as important as the knowledge and skills gained.’

(Zeus and Skiffington 2000)

Both mentoring and coaching are essentially a conversation where learning takes place through asking the right questions rather than simply providing the answers.

In the context of the GPMPpus service there is an important added benefit to the service being mentoring rather than simply coaching: All GPMplus mentors, in addition to having been trained in mentoring and coaching techniques, have wide experience of working in Primary Care and so, where appropriate, they are able to offer advice based on experience as well as using their coaching skills.

There are many forms of support available ranging from general wellbeing support, counselling, coaching and through to mentoring. Each of the types of support has it’s place and benefit, however it is mentoring with it’s focus on supporting mentees through their career development, that has been shown to:

• Aid development, at all stages of an individual’s career

• Improve retention rates and work performance as well as working relationships

• Encourage equality and reduce discrimination

Mentoring can help in a number of aspects of your professional life, including but not limited to: Career/development options; workload; returning to work; confidence; work environment/disputes; time management; stress management; transition into a new role; dealing with change; leadership skills; work life balance.

How can I access the GPMplus mentoring service?

You can request mentoring support, or more information, by:

  • Completing the online contact us form
  • Emailing us at info@gpmplus.co.uk
  • Calling us on 07548 342519

Once you have considered accessing the GPMplus mentoring service, please review the mentor biographies and consider your 3 preferred mentors – we will aim to match you to one of your preferred mentors, subject to availability.

Please also review the GPMplus mentoring charter here.

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