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Mentorship for Newly Appointed Physicians: A Strategy for Enhancing Patient Safety?

Harrison, Reema PhD*†; McClean, Serwaa MB, ChB; Lawton, Rebecca PhD†‡; Wright, John MB, ChB, MPH§; Kay, Clive MB, ChB, MPH§

doi: 10.1097/PTS.0b013e31829e4b7e
Original Articles

Objective Mentorship is an increasingly popular innovation from business and industry that is being applied in health-care contexts. This paper explores the concept of mentorship for newly appointed physicians in their first substantive senior post, and specifically its utilization to enhance patient safety.

Methods Semi-structured face to face and telephone interviews with Medical Directors (n = 5), Deputy Medical Directors (n = 4), and Clinical Directors (n = 6) from 9 acute NHS Trusts in the Yorkshire and Humber region in the north of England. A focused thematic analysis was used.

Results A number of beneficial outcomes were associated with mentorship for newly appointed physicians including greater personal and professional support, organizational commitment, and general well-being. Providing newly appointed senior physicians with support through mentorship was considered to enhance the safety of patient care. Mentorship may prevent or reduce active failures, be used to identify threats in the local working environment, and in the longer term, address latent threats to safety within the organization by encouraging a healthier safety culture.

Conclusions Offering mentorship to all newly appointed physicians in their first substantive post in health care may be a useful strategy to support the development of their clinical, professional, and personal skills in this transitional period that may also enhance the safety of patient care.

From the *University of York, York; †Bradford Institute for Health Research, Bradford; ‡University of Leeds, Leeds; and §Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Bradford, U.K.

Correspondence: Dr Reema Sirriyeh, PhD, York Trials Unit, Department of Health Sciences, University of York, YO10 5DD (e-mail:

The authors disclose no conflict of interest.

© 2014 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins