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Mentoring plea to help doctors cope

Doctors need better peer support to deal with the challenges of a high-pressure career in medicine, a University academic and former GP is urging.

Mental health problems of medical students and doctors are poorly dealt with at present and would benefit from better mentoring programs, he argues.

Dr David Jeffrey, an Honorary Lecturer at the University of Edinburgh, has tackled the issues head on in a book published by the Royal College of General Practitioners.

The book offers a practical guide based on case studies. It gives advice on how doctors can support each other to improve professional development and patient care.

A career in medicine can be stressful and demoralising with the pressures of continuing medical training, increasing workloads and often criticism from the public and the media.

Doctors spend their working lives caring for patients yet often fail to provide a similar level of care for their students, trainees and colleagues.

Although mentoring is well-established in the nursing community, there is still a culture in medicine that doctors should be able to cope by themselves. Seeking support is still viewed by some as a weakness.

These factors are making it difficult to recruit new doctors to the profession in some areas.

Most doctors will struggle and need help at some stage in their professional life. My goal with this book is to provide a roadmap for how doctors at all stages of their careers can best support each other.
Dr David JeffreyHonorary Lecturer in Palliative Medicine at the University of Edinburgh

‘Medical Mentoring: Supporting students, doctors in training and general practitioners’ is available from the RCGP website: