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Mentoring is so beneficial that NHS England has made it a central component in its drive to 'create, sustain and develop a diverse workforce in which talented people maximise their potential and their contribution to the communities they serve'. If you're a BSR member, whatever your role or level of experience,  our mentoring scheme can pair you with someone who has the relevant knowledge and expertise to help. We spoke to two members about how mentoring has helped their careers, as well as the benefits of being involved.

Mentor and mentee

Dr Luke Sammut is a specialist trainee registrar at Southampton General Hospital. He was part of our pilot project in 2016 and is still working with his mentor. He first heard about the scheme from a member newsletter we sent out.

"For me I was looking for someone who could bring an alternative perspective and look at things differently to what I’m used to," says Dr Sammut. "I was interested in gaining more research exposure because my timetable is mostly clinical, so I was looking for that extra time to be involved in research."

Dr Sammut was paired with Dr Yeliz Prior, Director of Postgraduate Research at the University of Salford. Dr Prior already has a wealth of experience mentoring health professionals in rheumatology. She says mentoring goes both ways.

"Luke has a lot of medical expertise in areas that I don’t have," explains Dr Prior. "I had research projects and data available, so it was really all about collaboration. Plus, when you’re teaching or mentoring, you’re always learning yourself."

The benefits of mentoring

Dr Prior was able to give Dr Sammut opportunities to participate in some research, resulting in them working on a project together, co-authoring conference abstracts and submitting a research paper for publication. As a result of the collaboration, Dr Sammut was granted an Honorary Research Fellow contract at the University of Salford. Dr Prior was also able to connect Dr Sammut with a research network near his hospital, so he could develop local research collaborations.

Distance is no issue

Our mentoring scheme is flexible, meaning participants can use a variety of different ways to work together, through email, video conferencing or meeting up. "It’s something you can agree with your mentor in the first meeting," says Dr Sammut. "Due to us being geographically far apart we rely on emails, phone calls or video chats. But we have met in person at the BSR and EULAR conferences on several occasions."

The programme is open to all members. "It’s really easy to apply,” says Dr Sammut. "You fill in an application form online detailing your interests, what your role is and what you’d like to get out of it.” Applicants will then start receiving potential matches.

BSR is also looking for additional mentors to be involved. "I’ve seen real benefits of mentoring in broadening my own outlook," says Dr Prior. "You can help someone set some goals, progress their career as well as giving you a different perspective. I’d encourage other members to take part in this valuable scheme."

Our scheme encourages autonomy and self-development and mentors are not expected to collaborate on projects unless it’s mutually beneficial to both the mentor and mentee.