Becoming a coach and mentor

31 March 2022

Dr Anita Campbell discusses her experience of supporting others in general practice.

Developing my skills

I was a portfolio GP for much of my career. I did not retire but my career changed into one which no longer required me to have a licence to practise and I ceased clinical practice. I was a GP trainer, GP appraiser and medical manager; I dealt with doctors in difficulty and I realised, that with this experience, I had skills for working with colleagues, which could continue after I took my NHS pension at normal retirement age.

Talking to GPs during their appraisals, I have become aware of the increasing expectations of GPs. This is not only from patients but also from increasing regulation. Some of us saw the need for coaching and mentoring GPs. Initially trained as a coach by NHS England, I thought that was a future role where I could use my skills. This was not the case and I kept my skills going with pro bono work with health professionals, not just GPs. Another opportunity came along to gain a coaching qualification through the NHS Leadership Academy. I developed my skills, passed the assessment and still there was no joined up thinking and paid work. I was still convinced there was a need amongst GPs for this kind of support and challenge.

Supporting colleagues and myself

There was nothing quite like the buzz I felt when I had worked through a model framework of coaching with a colleague, see them take ownership of the issue, develop their ideas and decide on a plan and achieve their goal. The goal and resulting plan can be survival-oriented, it can be career development-oriented, and of course it can be both.

It is only recently that the NHS is starting to develop their thinking about GP retention. The NHS is facilitating mentoring schemes for GPs. It is still very patchy and I can only hope that coaching and mentoring becomes more widely available. I now have a future in this second phase of my career as my LMC is providing mentoring for GPs and I am a mentor with a great group of colleagues with supervision and support myself.

About the writer

Dr Anita Campbell is part of the Later Career and Retired Members community.

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