When I graduated back in 2014, a bright eyed, extremely keen young Osteopath, I was nervous, but excited to embark on my career. Like many others, I started off doing contract work at two clinics in Melbourne. Neither had any formal mentoring and I spent my first few months in a constant state of mild stress and overwhelm when I was at work. While my training was great, curve balls would arise daily and very few cases fit neatly into the common conditions I had learned about. I would carefully choose which of my patient cases to ask senior practitioners about, not wanting to be a burden on their time and energy, but really needing help as a new grad. I would even try to casually hang around the hallway during their breaks in case they emerged from their rooms and happened to offer any help in the 2 minutes they had between patients.
One of my clinics had occasional tutes, but even in that group environment, I dutifully stuck to the topic at hand and kept the majority of my (endless) questions to myself. I had no time management skills, meaning my patient notes took me hours and I often dwelled on patient cases late into the night.
My experience is not a unique one in the world of allied health. We see many new graduates thrown into the depths of work without a go-to person when they have questions about cases, or just need life or admin advice. Experiences such as these were a huge part of the motivation for developing a structured and extensive mentoring program at Beyond.
Mentoring at Beyond is not just for new graduates; every single practitioner at Beyond has a mentor. Their mentor is their point person at work; someone to discuss cases with, who will teach and learn alongside them and who will keep an eye on their workload and self care. This last part is particularly important in a ‘people’ heavy industry like allied health where we see huge rates of burnout at all career stages. Imagine your ongoing wellbeing and happiness at work being a part of someone else’s job description. Pretty special if you ask me.
Our mentors also help and guide our team towards their individual goals. An important part of the Beyond structure is our clearly defined career pathways and levels. We built this structure to provide alternate pathways for practitioners who didn’t want to open their own clinic (or didn’t want to do it alone and unsupported), but wanted more than the repetitive grind of being a busy practitioner (often the only two options in allied health for senior practitioners).
We also built this structure to give our team the option of variety in their career beyond the clinic room. Many practitioners develop a certain level of comfort and competency in managing their patient load and want something more as their career progresses.
Additionally, these levels and pathways offer the ability for practitioners to earn more without necessarily having to add more patient/work hours in their week. This means that when we discuss long term goals with our practitioners, we’re able to look ahead and project their future earnings based on their goals. So if a young practitioner wants to buy a house, we can look at their career goals and help to figure out how much easier it will be to save for their house deposit as they move up. We don’t put time frames on career level changes (other than new graduates), so if someone is motivated and works hard, they can move up as quickly as they want and get themselves that house!
Every mentoring session is different. A new graduate would have structured, weekly mentoring, while a more senior practitioner may have monthly mentoring where they run the session and topics. A mentoring session may be in-clinic and practical, or it may be a coffee and a walk depending on the topic of the day. New team members have an online self-paced learning system for induction, which their mentor guides them through, while a more established practitioner may have sessions made up of a mixture of clinical skills, achieving their desired career pathway or working on leadership or life skills.
We supply each of our practitioners with a centralised dashboard for all things Beyond-related and this is where we store notes from mentoring sessions so the team has a wealth of information at their fingertips. This dashboard also contains a section for each of our team member’s goals. This is where you would indicate which (if any) career pathway you want, including becoming a mentor. Once your mentor knows your direction, they will start helping you work on the skills necessary to achieve that goal. This way we can ensure that we are actively helping our team get to where they want to go in life. It also means that we are training our next generation of mentors even before they start their formal training to ensure that once they take on their own mentees, they are confident and up to the task of guiding their team to reach their own goals.