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Reflections & Summary – Mentoring and Leadership Special Interest Group MWIA Webinar held 31 July 2021

Reflections and summary from the Chair, Magdalena Simonis

Mentoring and Leadership Special Interest Group MWIA Webinar (2) July 31st ,2021. Reflections and summary from the Chair, Magdalena Simonis

“Mentees and younger doctors – finding a mentor and what to expect.”

The second webinar in our series was a terrific success and interest in the activities of the MWIA Mentoring and Leadership Special Interest group continues to grow. We had a total of 398 registrants with attendees from India, Korea, Brazil, Germany, Sweden, UK, USA, Australia, Taiwan,  Malaysia, Hong Kong, Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Sierra Leone, Zambia, Sudan, Italy to name a few. I’d like to thank and acknowledge the five speakers who shared their superb presentations with us. They are, Dr Claire Hathorn (UK), Dr Jenny Chan (HK), Dr Elvera Baron (USA), Dr Dabota Buowari Nigeria and Dr Mandakini Megh (India).

Thank you also to the co-Chairs Dr Wendy Bernstein and Dr Joyce Barber for moderating the Q+A session and a special thank you goes to Ms Nodumo Dhlamini | Director – ICT Services, Comms & KM @ AAU | The Association of African Universities who provided the webinar services again.

Some key points made

  • mentor and mentee relationships change over time
  • you can have more than one mentor at the same time
  • it’s a two-way relationship and both need voluntary engagement
  • be specific with your ‘ask’ of your mentor / mentee
  • it’s ok to change your mind/direction over time.
  • Formal versus informal – it’s commitment that makes the difference.
  • Transition period from university to hospital is a difficult time for young doctors – mentorship will help

These events offer us the opportunity to interact with colleagues, network and collaborate on initiatives across the world. Whether you are a mentor or mentee or both, there is benefit in attending our webinars and the chat was filled with interactions between the registrants building new connections.

The next webinar will be in October and the theme is ‘Herstory – mentors that change our lives’. It will form a compilation of ‘stories’ in which we share and honour those who have mentored us.  It will become an online MWIA story book, which we can build over the years.


The comments taken from the chat below describe the overall feedback

“Excellent presentation from all”

“Awesome presentations thank you”

“Thank you to all speakers. Looking forward to the next webinar!”

“Thank you for the opportunity to join in this wonderful webinar.”

“Thank you all for a very insightful session! Great speakers indeed”

“Thank you to all the presenters – it was a great learning exercise.  Looking forward to the next session.”

“Thank you for the brilliant and insightful presentations!”



A summary of the event is included and a link to the webinar will be shared and uploaded to the MWIA website.

1. Addressing the ‘awkward’ mentor/mentee conversations

Qn: “How do you draw the line between pushing yourself on your mentor/mentee and you both have just been too busy For each other?”

Ans: “I … think as a mentor, recognizing if one is too busy and suggesting re-directing the potential mentee to someone else / perhaps a better matched person could work. Alternatively, setting limits and touch points – ‘I have a grant, I will be busy over next xx  months, let’s touch base in 3 months’,  type of thing – gives mentees permission to reach out again in the future without feeling ‘bothersome’.

Qn: “Is it possible to mentor a person that is naturally withdrawer & finds it difficult to associate with people?”

Ans: “Yes, but it might take time. Leave the door open by asking them how things are tracking and to call on you if they want to talk about their next steps’. Shy vulnerable types might take time to cross the line.

2. It’s ok to have multiple mentors over time

Dr Elvera Baron’s talk was structured around work/ study and training transitions over the phases of a career. Just as careers do not develop in a linear fashion, mentoring can take turns in direction and pauses just as your mentoring needs will change. One mentor might not be able to support you with each of these different developments so there might be many in your life course and sometimes more than one simultaneously.

Decisions around choosing a mentor, should be based on their suitability to your particular stage. Don’t be afraid to ask someone to mentor you and be explicit with your ‘ask’ even though asking can be daunting.

This slide  from Dr Baron’s presentation captures  some of the functions of a mentor:

This slide from Dr Baron’s presentation captures some of the functions of a mentor.


3. What mentoring is and isn’t

Dabota Buowari defined a mentor, as a person whose scope of experience enables them to provide ‘guidance, education and advice’.  Mentoring is not the same as coaching and it is not a form of counselling. The secondary benefits of good mentoring are that one’s mental health might improve, which is the added bonus of committing to a mentoring programme.

4. Informal versus formal mentoring

Good mentoring benefits both mentor and mentee – it’s about the commitment not the type. Select what suits you. If it doesn’t suit you, don’t be afraid to change. Dr Hathorn commented that research supports the expansion of the mentoring programmes, through generating funding for sustainment.

5. Mentors will benefit from having some formal training

Dr Mandakini Megh described the free online courses that are available with certification. Training benefits both mentor and mentee.  Dr Jenny Chan, demonstrated the outcomes of the programme piloted for medical trainees in Hong Kong, which suggest that  100% agreed it was a worthwhile programme which benefited them.


We all look forward to seeing you at the next event.

Magdalena Simonis
Chair MWIA Mentoring and Leadership, Special Interest Group



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