Being a mentor is more than teaching

By Jacqui Williams Senior Midwifery Advisor (Education) at the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) on 15 November 2021 Maternity Services Midwifery Leadership Education Race matters

Senior Midwifery Advisor at the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), Jacqui Williams shares what mentorship means to her and her current experience working as a mentor on the new mentoring schemes for Black, Asian and minority ethnic colleagues. Jacqui is looking forward to extending this mentorship offer to midwives on the Turning the Tide mentoring programme.

When I look back over my career and the opportunities that I have had, I think that it was the confidence to step out of my comfort zone and take risks that has helped me to progress. However, this is only part of the story as there have been a number of key people who have helped me to achieve my goals.

Shortly after qualifying as a midwife I remember my Senior Midwife told me that this was a critical period in my career and if I ever needed support or help, I was not to hesitate to contact her. Thinking back she was the first mentor I had and knowing that she was there if I needed her, well it made all the difference.

Until recently I had not really considered the impact that my background and heritage has had on the opportunities I have been able to take up. I am now on a journey, through mentoring schemes, to better understand the lived experience of others who have found barriers in their career progression because of the colour of their skin.

Mentoring gives me the opportunity to look through a different lens and reflect on another’s experience, as well as being reflective of the part I might play in this.

I adopt a very flexible approach as a mentor, working with my mentee to meet their needs. This journey will not necessarily be predictable and we may need to adapt as we go along. I see myself as the facilitator, offering a range of things for my mentee to work on including opening up networking opportunities so that they can gain from others too.

I think about this opportunity as playing a small part even to drive positive change for maternity colleagues. I believe it will lead to improving my own practice and better team working.

This journey is not one-sided: it involves us both being challenged so we can both experience mutual learning, mutual understanding and mutual development.