Published: 14/07/2005, Volume II5, No. 115 Page 44

The NHS management training scheme provides a good grounding for aspiring health service managers, reports trainee Anthony Martin, but it is mentoring that provides the best value As I near the end of the management training scheme I regularly reflect on the events and people who have helped me to develop my self-confidence, professional awareness and ability.

The organisations I have been placed with - Royal Devon and Exeter foundation trust and Teignbridge primary care trust - have given me the experiences needed to develop my skills. But it is the people I have met who have contributed most.

I have been particularly struck by the value of mentoring relationships, which was a completely new concept to me.

Initially, I viewed mentoring with trepidation, mainly because I had had little contact with senior people. It was not clear to me what I could gain or achieve, and I feared that I would be taking up their time. But these worries quickly disappeared when I saw their willingness to be helpful and what they could do for me.

Mentoring sessions became a period of protected time when I could step back from my daily activities and make sense of the work I had been carrying out in the context of the wider organisation and my own development needs. I was able to maintain a broad overview of issues affecting the trusts and the NHS generally, and of developments that I needed to keep abreast of but were outside of my every day remit.

I realised I was developing a new skill: to be able to draw on the knowledge and experience of my mentors, to use my time with them effectively by focusing on the most important issues, and being honest and clear about my aims and objectives.

As the end of the scheme approaches, I have been able to adapt mentoring sessions to plan the portfolio of skills I am looking to develop in my next post and through my career.

The mentoring relationship has been one of the most valuable aspects of the scheme.

Mentoring should be made available wherever possible to help develop managers and leaders at all levels, including clinical staff.

Anthony Martin is project manager at Teignbridge PCT as part of the NHS management training scheme.

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