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Next Generation Neurology: 
The ABNT mentoring programme

Posted in Personal Perspective on 14th Aug 2015

ACNRJA15-17In May 2014, the Association of British Neurologists Trainees (ABNT) introduced a mentoring scheme in which neurology trainees act as mentors to junior doctors to develop their interest in neurology and to encourage recruitment into the specialty. Changes in medical school curricula and junior doctor training mean that many doctors have less exposure to neurology than previously. The aim of the mentoring scheme is to support individuals who show an interest in neurology, enabling them to manage their career development in an effective and efficient manner. As well as being of benefit to junior doctors, it is hoped that the scheme will give neurology trainees valuable experience in mentoring, which is a skill encouraged by the General Medical Council.1 This article will describe how the ABN mentoring scheme was developed.

The benefits of mentoring

The educational literature reports that the advantages for doctors of receiving mentoring are: improved performance, career opportunity and advancement, improved knowledge and skills, and greater confidence.2 Mentoring has been shown to have a role in career guidance and a survey of junior doctors in the USA found that mentored junior doctors were nearly twice as likely to describe excellent career advice and preparation than those who did not have a mentor.3

Mentoring has a long tradition in neurology,4 and has increasingly been recognised as a successful means of promoting career development and retention within physicians established in academic neurology.5 However, career advice in neurology can be “difficult to find, is not necessarily intuitive and is likely to be given on an informal basis”.6

The ABNT mentoring scheme

A working party was set up to develop the ABNT mentoring scheme by following a best practice example. The London Deanery mentoring programme now has over 500 mentees.7 Key features of this programme were identified as: the delivery of mentoring by appropriately trained and supported doctors, confidentiality for the mentees, avoidance of dependence, the presence of a mentoring working party and administrative support team, and a choice of mentors of the same sex or ethnicity.

The working party created an outline for the scheme of a two-year mentoring relationship between mentee and mentor with two or three face-to-face meetings per year and email contact. This was to ensure the mentees felt supported by the relationship and the mentors did not feel overburdened. Application forms for prospective mentees were written to include information about demographics, career aspirations and previous career experience.

Junior doctors in medical training posts throughout the UK were invited via an email from their deanery to become mentees in the mentoring scheme. Foundation programme directors and administrators and CMT programme directors and administrators in each deanery were contacted to allow this. The scheme was also advertised on the ABNT website, and emails were sent to students and junior doctors who had an expressed an interest in being involved in the scheme at the RCP Career Day. Interested mentors were identified within the ABNT through the ABNT website and newsletter as well as in discussions at the ABN conference in May 2014.

The mentee-mentor pairings were made in a meeting of the ABNT mentoring working party. This decision was made to limit administrative burden as this is a small but nationwide scheme and allocations were made based on location and interests. Forty-one mentor-mentee pairings have now been in contact and evaluation of the mentoring scheme will occur at the end of the year.

A training day for mentors was held in June 2014 at the ABN offices to ensure that mentoring is delivered by appropriately trained doctors. The ABN office team is providing administrative support and mentors and mentees have been encouraged to contact the ABNT mentoring working party if practical support is required.

The mentoring scheme and its evaluation will comply with the ethical guidelines produced by the British Educational Research Association.8 The mentors and mentees have the right to withdraw at any stage in the study and the data collected will be anonymised and the responses will be confidential.

Evaluation and dissemination

The goal of evaluating the mentoring scheme is to gain an understanding of the mechanisms of mentoring in providing career advice and guiding junior doctors to consider neurology as their chosen career. It will also aim to assess the benefit to the neurology trainee mentors as an educational experience. A distinctive feature of many evaluative reports is the emphasis on recommendations;9 therefore, the report will include practical recommendations clearly derived from the data. The report will be available on the mentoring scheme section of the ABNT website and will be presented as a poster at the ABN conference.


  1. General Medical Council (2012) Leadership and management for all doctors. GMC London.
  2. Garvey B and Garrett-Harris R (2005) The Benefits of Mentoring: A Literature review, A report for the East mentors Forum. The Mentoring and Coaching Research Unit, Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield.
  3. Ramanan R, Taylor W, Davis R and Philips R (2006) Mentoring Matters: Mentoring and Career Preparation in Internal Medicine Residency Training J Gen Intern Med 21 pp340-45
  4. Strowd R and Reynolds P (2013) The lost resident: Why resident physicians still need mentoring Neurology 80 pp2147-48
  5. Schenkenberg T, Foster N, Bromberg M, DeWitt L, Flanigan K (2011) Neurology Academic Advisory Committee: A strategy for faculty retention and advancement Neurology 77 pp684-690
  6. Paterson R, Waldermar G and Ray Chaudhuri K (2012) Career Mentorship for Young Neurologists in Europe Neurology 79 pp 381-383
  7. Viney R and Paice E (2010) The First Five Hundred: A Report on London Deanery’s Coaching and Mentoring Service 2008-2010 at (accessed June 2015)
  8. British Educational Research Association (2011) Ethical guidelines for education research at (accessed June 2015)
  9. Robson C (2011) Real World Research 3e. Wiley Chichester

ACNR 2015;15(3):17.  Online 14/08/2015

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