Submitted by UBC Continuing Professional Development
Every year, physicians move to cities and towns all over BC to begin new lives practicing rural medicine. Some are recent graduates entering practice for the first time, some may have many years of experience practicing medicine internationally, but all are facing a unique set of circumstances for which they might not feel fully prepared.
Physicians beginning their careers in rural BC face distinctive challenges, both in terms of navigating the professional environment and in acclimating to a new way of life in a rural community. And who better to help support them during this stage in their career than someone who has been through the same process?
The Rural Physician Mentoring Program pairs new to rural practice physicians with an experienced mentor. This mentoring partnership, with the support of the program, can help physicians succeed in a rural environment. Mentors have lived and practiced in rural BC for years and have developed the skills and mindset needed to thrive in a rural setting; mentors in the Summer 2016 cohort alone have over 250 combined years of experience practicing rural medicine. Over the course of 8 months, the program facilitates a connection between these seasoned vets and their new colleagues so that they may impart their knowledge and wisdom on to the next generation of rural doctors.
The program, developed by the UBC Rural CPD Program (RCPD) in partnership with the Rural Coordination Centre of BC (RCCbc), is the first of its kind in the province. A successful pilot ran from May 2014 to February 2015, and the evaluations revealed encouraging results from program participants. Mentees indicated the program helped them improve their confidence in their own skills and in using local resources, as well as adapting and becoming comfortable in a new community. 92% of mentees from the pilot (n=12) indicated that mentorship provided a beneficial impact to their lives and/or practice.
One mentee shared her experience of how the program helped her cope with a difficult situation:
“I was working with a challenging colleague, it was very stressful for everyone, and [my mentor] helped me find a way in those circumstances to get more help. […] At different levels, she helped me to stay focused and continue to learn. Through this year, I feel that I have been able to rebuild my confidence and that is part of it – through the mentoring program I know there is always someone to ask a question.”
Based on the success of the pilot, program organizers received funding from the Joint Standing Committee on Rural Issues (JSC) to offer an expanded program. Two cohorts are currently underway with applications currently being accepted for the Spring 2017 cohort.
There is no cost for mentees to participate in the program, and mentors receive an honorarium for their participation.
More information on the Rural Physician Mentoring Program, including how to enroll as either a mentee or a mentor, is available on their website http://ubccpd.ca/rural/mentoring, or you can contact program staff at firstname.lastname@example.org.