Mumsy Mondays


Dealing With Difficult Mentors

This week Mumsy Midwife Clare shares with us to to deal with difficult mentors that you may have through your three years of training and how to manage the situation.



When you are a student, mentorship is the be all and end all. I know that my passion and dislike of a clinical area was completely dependant on if I had good mentorship or had a midwife that was still in love with the job. 

But not every mentor is a good mentor, unfortunately. And at every hospital, there will be a few members of staff you dread seeing your name next to on the off duty. So what do you do, if you do have that fated star next to your name? 

The obvious choice would be to talk to your practice facilitator and ask to be moved, but we all know that isn’t always a viable option. Ward politics and cliques can mean that voicing your wishes to swap mentors, publicly can cause friction with your peers and colleagues. If you can, by all means go ahead, as this will hopefully solve your problem in one easy step. 

If you can’t take this avenue then you need to work out how to deal with it. It may be that you have to work with them and grin and bear it, although I’m sure your Uni would tell you otherwise. 

Try and work out in advance what it is that makes them difficult to work with. Are they hard to win over or do they have strict ways of doing things? If it is the latter, mentally prepare yourself by knowing there will be a period of adjustment as you learn their ways. This strict practice doesn’t mean they are a difficult mentor, as usually once you are used to each other and both know where you stand, you get on much better. These mentors tend to be the best mentors and the ones that influence your practice the most. 

If it is because they are hard to win over, prepare yourself and learn your stuff. Look in your practice development books and find the competencies for the area you are going into, so you have learning banked in advance for questions that will come your way. To be honest, if we were all perfect students, we would be doing this anyway, as you need to be constantly improving yourself and your knowledge, and reading is a fantastic way of doing that. But I know that in reality that probably doesn’t happen as much as it should. 

When times are tough with mentors try and remind yourself it is only temporary. Usually even the most infamous mentors get on with their students after a week or two. It just takes grit and determination to push through the difficult times. 

Ultimately, despite me saying sometimes you should grin and bear it, don’t let anyone bully you. This is unacceptable in any form, so please don’t suck it up in this situation. You must report it to your Uni, and it is probably best you take this avenue rather than talking to staff in the unit, as you will get a more thorough investigation and response this way.

Just remember, your training is not meant to be all fun, sometimes it’s really hard, but it’s only for a short period of time. When you’ve qualified, the years will slip away far too quickly, and these times will be distant memories. 

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