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Mentoring—the trainee's perspective
  1. C D Okereke
  1. Correspondence to: Mr Chikezie Dean Okereke, Specialist Registrar, Accident and Emergency Medicine, 34 Long Causeway, Adel, Leeds LS16 8EQ

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All the trainees within the NHS have probably been introduced to appraisals and assessments at some stage in their training. This culture of developmental appraisals and assessments is unfamiliar to many of these doctors and may be found threatening, embarrassing, and even intimidating. In the light of this uncertainty, the appraisal and assessment procedure is often viewed as a redundant and bureaucratic process initiated by big brother.1 With the recent introduction of mentoring into the health service for medical trainees, some have suggested that it may help the appraisal and assessments process.

Differentiating between appraisals, assessments, and mentoring in medicine

Developmental appraisal was defined by the Standing Committee on Postgraduate Medical and Dental Education (SCOPME) report of 1996 as a process that is confidential (except in defined circumstances), primarily educational and developmental, and designed to help the individual to progress. Assessment was seen as an open and objective process, subject to appeal, and designed to inform decisions about career progress. It should measure knowledge and skills usually with a view to achieving the next step in a career.2

The SCOPME report of 1998 defined mentoring as a process whereby an experienced, highly regarded person (the mentor) guides another individual (the mentee) in the development and examination of their own ideas, learning, and personnel and professional development.3

The belief is that developmental appraisals should help identify educational needs as early as possible and assist the development of skills necessary for self appraisal and reflection needed through the training. It should provide a mechanism for giving feedback on the quality of the training provided, with the aim of making the training more effective and efficient. Assessment of trainees, on the other hand, should aim to identify their strengths and weaknesses, determine whether the trainee is safe to practice, and whether he/she has reached a level of attainment. …

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  • Conflict of interest: none.

  • Funding: none.