A mentor? What for?
Do I need one?
Am I one?

On reflection, most can identify themselves at some point in development as a mentee, and nominate figures in personal and professional life that have informally fulfilled the role of mentor, and – perhaps to some surprise – all may have unwittingly acted as a mentor themselves.

This informal relationship operates beyond the texts, tests and teachers, helping to shape many aspects of our role, and hopefully to perpetuate a positive model.

Following Board review and approval, and with the expert assistance of the Australian Orthopaedic Association head office, it is pleasing to report that the Younger Surgeon Mentoring Initiative is certainly taking shape, and should progress to a deliverable program by 2018.

While the initial brief was to target the younger surgeon, it is acknowledged that the mentee or mentor requirement may be lifelong and the program may evolve through the development process to be more inclusive and comprehensive.

A survey of younger, recent orthopaedic surgeons and late SET program trainees was undertaken in 2016 to gauge responses regarding the potential relevance of a mentoring program. By way of background, it is important to establish the trends in practice for recent graduates and whether there was an awareness of need for mentoring programs, or participation in programs provided by other associations.


Tim Musgrove
NSW Branch Director

This informal relationship operates beyond the texts, tests and teachers, helping to shape many aspects of our role, and hopefully to perpetuate a positive model.

Responses indicated that less than 10 per cent of surgeons surveyed had participated in a mentoring program but greater than 90 per cent were likely to participate in a mentoring program should it be available. When canvasing issues of importance in order, it was deemed that professional, practice and personal issues were the top three concerns.

A program particular to Australian orthopaedic surgeons, formulated specifically by the Association, was deemed more relevant than utilising other existing programs.  

A mentoring program that was optional and informal was favoured over any formal or mandatory program. Overwhelmingly, it was felt that a mentor should be sought rather than assigned and that a pool of mentors should be available to be sourced by the mentee. State-based mentors known to the mentee were the preferred option with participation in a program to be respectfully managed in a confidential way. 

Of the modes of interaction favoured, a face-to-face interaction was preferred over phone or email interactions.

With the results of the survey in mind, the proposed path forward during 2017 is to further communicate with the younger surgeons regarding the mentoring plan and it is anticipated that a pool of mentors may be established for mentees toward the end of 2017. 

Existing mentoring programs within the states will be acknowledged and may well form the basis of the program particular to that state. 

In an effort to engage members and ensure there is ongoing member ownership of the mentoring program, further discussions with regard to the format of the mentoring program will be undertaken through workshops at state-based meetings and the AORA meeting.

It is proposed that a mentoring workshop be held at the 2017 AOA ASM in keeping with the theme of the meeting – Transforming Leadership.

As always, the strength of such programs and initiatives relies on the broader AOA member base ‘buying in’, so that we strive to remain the peak professional body for advancing orthopaedics in Australia.

Should you have any queries or comments regarding the Younger Surgeon Mentoring Initiative, please don’t hesitate to contact AOA Head Office via email at aoa@aoa.org.au