::Campus Centre : Campus Guidance : Student Mentoring
Student Mentoring Project was implemented in the year 2011 with 26 mentors trained and deployed. The CRRI student Mentors performed flawlessly and the post project analysis of the freshers showed a significant improvement in the communicative skills and awareness of the students in terms of medical school curriculum and career prospects. Many of these young minds were evidently prepared to put in place long term goals and plans. This structured relationship that anchors on the socio-psychological needs of the mentee - process of “walking alongside” and helping them to achieve their potential is undertaken willingly, informed, interactive and confidential. Kudos 2012 Mentor Group
Dr. K.Shantaraman MD;
Professor of Pathology &
Executive Lead (I&SP)


MENTOR MESSAGE: .….As a fresher, I had to go through a lot of hardships, frustrations and psychosocial issues …….I think guiding a person in such situations will help them to become a better human being. The best part of SMP is that I can help my juniors see failure as a ladder and rather not as the snake in the game of life…….Ms.S.Anu, Resident Intern
MENTEE MESSAGE: .........we are exposed to an entirely new environment that is at times strange. To get acclimatized to this we need support and encouragement….the SMP removed this fear with their motherly affection. We are amazed to see such “senior-junior" interaction in this college. ...we can ask for help/guidance from our mentors with full rights. It gives us a unique feeling….Ms.Meenu Priya, Fresher (2011).


The Mentor is an individual who has the ability to relate to mentees, motivate them, listen patiently, assist them to make plans and carry them through, identify their hidden talents and skills, and communicate with optimism. Mentors shall make time available, set standards and maintain firm boundaries, while doing so shall delegate responsibility to the mentees, help them to become more connected to institute, maintain confidentiality and trust within appropriate limits. Mentoring works when a trusting relationship is established so that the mentored student feels safe to try out new skills and ideas. Student mentoring involves experienced teachers, students or community members guiding the less experienced by modelling appropriate work habits, listening to concerns and helping with problem solving and planning. Mentoring relationships can be established between: - teacher and student; student and student; or community member and student. At TVMC under the innovation and strategic planning initiative—Innovates TVMC we have enunciated a customized mentoring initiative called the Student Mentoring Program. Student Mentoring Program @ Tirunelveli Medical College has a two fold intervention with a SMP namely:

Fresh Wind Program: as an early intervention program which aims to help students settle into medical school easily. Research also shows that students make a good start to school and are more likely to enjoy their education and achieve well when mentored. Fresh Wind program provides opportunities for the medical school to work together with families, students and the community to ensure a more successful transition from school to university with identified behaviour difficulties. This also aims at counseling them on the fears of ragging and to keep tab to prevent any such happenings.

Early Ladder Program: The Early Ladder supports students who are at risk of not making a successful transition coming from rural schools and non supportive family backgrounds. The six 'Cs' of ELP outline the roles and responsibilities of mentors. These are care, communication, content, confidentiality, commitment and cooperation.

Guidelines for the SMP: Mentoring is a complex undertaking. Clear guidelines are required to ensure appropriate relationships with clear expectations of the student and mentor. This requires training programs with child protection, duty of care and appropriate relationships between staff and students as important components of this training. The key elements of successful mentoring programs include: the approval of the Institute, the suppor t of executive staff and campus community, student agreement, informed consent, realistic expectations of what the program can achieve, regular, formalised meetings with documentation of objectives (agenda) and outcomes (minutes), record keeping appropriate to the activity, consistent monitoring and evaluation of the program and starting with a small, manageable program.

Selection of students: Students must agree to participate in a mentoring program. Mentoring is not a panacea and will have more positive outcomes for some students than others. Mentoring programs are particularly effective in transition periods. Mentors can teach social skills freshers, facilitate their adjustment to the college, help students in Year 1 develop the skills for next phases of MBBS, learning and facilitate the transition from basic sciences to clinical sciences, support students’ transition from institute to college and increase knowledge of education and training opportunities and further education. Institute and supervisors are reminded that effective management of identified risks will require closer super vision and increased care for younger and less mature students.

Parent involvement: Parents must be informed about the purpose of the program, the anticipated outcomes and their wards progress. They must be provided with the opportunity to discuss the SMP with the supervisor. Parents also have the right to withdraw their children from mentoring arrangements should they so wish.

Mentors: Selection of mentors: Mentors may include senior students and CRRI who have knowledge of relevant protection issues, long-term commitment to the program, respect for alternate views and cultures, the capacity to focus on the needs of the student, good listening skills, the ability to relate positively in a supportive manner, knowledge of when to call in specialist assistance, willingness to allow the student to take responsibility for their decisions, willingness to do things differently, and the capacity to establish firm boundaries that will assist the student at institute.

Faculty mentors: Faculty, at times, provide individual or small group instruction to students outside of class lessons to meet an immediate learning need. Such instruction may arise informally and is likely to be brief. Facultys must remain aware of the differing roles of mentor and faculty and ensure that the two remain separate. As the learning need of the student or group is met, the faculty will withdraw from the mentoring role. Students’ needs determine the appropriateness of this strategy.

Student mentors: Mentoring can strengthen the student leadership program in the institute by providing relevant experience and responsibility to students. Mentoring by students may include peer tutoring, an approach that is particularly valuable for freshers benefiting both students. This may be set up by the Learning Suppor t Team. Tripartite mentoring is another student mentoring approach. It involves appointing an older student who has a mentor themselves, acting, in turn, as a mentor to a younger student. This provides a positive opportunity for vulnerable students to practice the skills they have learnt, to receive recognition and develop responsibility.

Recruiting mentors: Mentoring programs require a wide range of volunteers to provide maximum flexibility when matching mentor to student. All appropriate volunteers should be trained so that if a mentor has to drop out of the program, a trained replacement is readily available. Training must include protection, duty of care and appropriate relationships between staff and students. The student mentors should be asked to apply formally for the position and undergo a semi-formal selection process. This provides them with valuable experience and strengthens their commitment to the program. Mentors need to be aware of the time commitment and the importance of continuity. An hour per week is usually the minimum requirement to cover one 30 minute session and a debriefing period. Students must be confident that their mentor is reliable and will see them regularly. If this minimum condition cannot be met, student’s self-esteem may suffer.

Supporting and supervising mentors: Deans and supervisors are reminded that “Risks associated with the activity being undertaken need to be assessed and addressed before the activity is under taken” Debriefing and the provision of feedback to mentors after each session is critical to the success of the mentoring process. All mentors need feedback and support sessions with their designated supervisor to prevent over-involvement with the students and to pre-empt problems. Mentors need to know that the institute appreciates their work and that it is providing a benefit to the student. A trained supervisor is needed to support and monitor the mentoring program. The supervisor must be available to resolve interpersonal problems, manage grievances, and deal with premature closure of the mentoring relationship. They may also need to arrange new mentors if a relationship cannot continue. Feedback sessions may be used to provide resources to ensure the mentoring sessions proceed positively and to provide praise for achievements as appropriate. The supervisor should be provided with adequate time, within the program budget, to maintain records for the information of the Dean and to ensure continuity for new super visors. A record should be kept of feedback sessions and must include any issues raised by the mentor and how the issue was dealt with. Any significant issues or feedback in relation to the mentoring arrangement that are raised by members of the institute community, including staff and parents, should also be recorded. Records must be stored securely. If issues relate to protection matters they must be referred immediately to the Institute for information and action as required.

Planning the program: The SMP needs clear aims and a series of specific, measurable objectives so that progress can be measured at the beginning, in the middle and at the end of the program. Both parties should agree on the negotiated plan of action. The stated aims of a mentoring program forms the basis for evaluation. Evaluation should be ongoing so that the program can be fine tuned. The Dean must be informed of, and approve, any mentoring programs or arrangements. All programs providing students with extra support through mentoring need to be planned so they fit into the normal working patterns of a institute. Initial enthusiasm may make mentors wish to see students more frequently but programs are more effective if they are limited to once or twice a week. The time commitment and timeframe needs to be made clear and agreed upon by all parties, including the student, to avoid disappointment. In mentoring arrangements specific goals and a conclusion date need to be set. Mentors and students need to have a space to meet which is suitable and comfortable. This could be a section in the library, the assembly hall or another space within the college. If a mentor is working one to one with a student it is best if their activities can be seen by others, e.g. through an open door. A study room in the library or a room off a busy corridor are often appropriate. Mentoring must take place where they can be observed by a faculty except where specifically approved by the Institute.

Supervision: The success of mentoring programs, as for all programs, requires commitment and enthusiasm. The selection and appointment of an appropriate supervisor is essential for the success of the program. The super visor may have a complementar y role within the college such as that of year adviser, head faculty welfare, institute counsellor, senior faculty, careers adviser or learning support team co-ordinator. Effective communication, tact, patience, diplomacy and organisational skills are essential. The appointment of an assistant supervisor is advisable to relieve the work load and provide program continuity. The super visor’s role includes assessing risks, ensuring that the duty of care owed to all students is paramount in determining how the program will operate, ensuring the Dean is informed of, and approves the program, recruiting mentors and ensuring their commitment and retention, matching of students with mentors, organising support material for mentoring sessions, monitoring the relationship between mentor and students, resolving unrealistic expectations, intervening if the relationship becomes inappropriate, reminding mentors and students about appointments, co-ordinating, monitoring and evaluating the program, organising and conducting debriefing sessions for mentors (after each session) and students, record keeping of feedback including any issues raised and how they were dealt with providing progress reports to the Dean, as required, referring to the Dean, immediately, any issues that relate to protection, organising celebratory events to mark key stages of the program. In addition, the supervisor is responsible for: planning meetings with key personnel, promoting the program to the institute community and finding suitable venues for mentoring sessions.

Professional conduct: Effective mentoring relies on positive relationships that are developed in a professional manner. The mentor is, by the nature of their role, in a position of trust, authority and influence. They can have a significant impact upon students’ educational progress, social and emotional welfare and behaviour and have the responsibility and authority to manage the situation. Students who are given extra help by a mentor often feel special and welcome the individual adult attention. A student may develop a feeling of attachment to the mentor. This situation needs to be handled carefully. If a mentor suspects that a student is developing an attachment, the situation must be discussed with a supervisor and a plan developed to manage it. This may involve another mentor sharing or taking over part of the role. Similarly, a mentor must seek immediate advice from a supervisor should a student develop a ‘dislike’ for them. In these circumstances, arrangements need to be made, for the reallocation or termination of the mentoring responsibility. This must be done in a manner that is sensitive to the needs of the student. Mentors must not use physical contact of any kind to achieve a student’s compliance with an instruction. They must not strike, push or physically discipline a student. Such actions are contrary to departmental and institute policy and can result in disciplinary and/or criminal charges. Shaking hands is a signal of formal recognition or greeting that is widely expected and accepted across families and cultural groups. Other than this however, there will be little need for physical contact in professional relationships with students. Mentors must be aware that behaviour intended to demonstrate care and concern, including, for example, touching a student on the shoulder or patting a young student on the head, may be inappropriate for some students and may also be misinterpreted, both by the student and by casual observers. Mentors should also discourage students from touching them. This learning is valuable as it highlights for students that there are particular ways to communicate with adults other than family or extended family members. This knowledge may, on occasion, protect them from harm.

Communication issues: Planned social interaction out of institute hours between students and tutors, institute-based coaches or mentors is not appropriate. Where this happens unintentionally in the local community, interactions should be kept positive but brief. Modes of communication (such as telephone, e-mail) with the student by a mentor must be discussed with and approved by the mentor’s supervisor, as well as the student and his/her parent or caregiver. Under no circumstances should any mode of communication be used to communicate inappropriate conversations. The mentor should not reply but should inform a supervisor so the issue is noted and a plan is made to resolve it. This may involve sensitively reminding the student about the roles and relationship boundaries of the program in the next mentoring session. Again it is important to develop communication that keeps professional boundaries clear and that cannot be misinterpreted as a personal as opposed to a professional interest in the student. If a mentor is observed, or becomes aware themselves that they are becoming too involved in the student’s welfare then reallocation or termination of the relationship should be considered, and the Dean informed. In these circumstances, the Dean will decide if the relationship should continue and exercise close supervision if it does. Mentoring should be a positive experience for all involved. Monitoring and Evaluation: Monitoring provides information on progress of the program and can be useful to resolve problems or conflicts before they develop. This may be done via surveys, questionnaires, meetings, telephone calls and e-mails. Data should be collected at the start and end of the program and at intervals throughout. This includes records kept by the supervisor of feedback from debriefing sessions with mentors and feedback from other members of the institute community about particular mentoring arrangements.

Feedback and support: Discussion and feedback from mentors and students is critical to identify and resolve problems early. Community members, faculty and students may have differing needs. Faculty need to differentiate their faculty and mentor roles. Community members may benefit from support in a less formal environment that provides feedback on the positive impact of their involvement. Students must be assisted to separate from the problems of the student they are mentoring. Group discussion sessions allow the mentors to bond as a group which maintains their commitment and punctuality. Feedback from mentors and students assists in the identification of ongoing training and suppor t needs of mentors and can inform training of future mentors.

Celebrate success: The celebration of milestones is essential. Giving mentors and students a certificate is one way to celebrate success

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