Provision of healthcare remains an evolving phenomenon and demands that providers of the service are not only up-to-date with the advancements in the industry, but also motivated in order for them to keep energised and put in their best. In view of this, mentoring has over the years proved to be one of the most important tools used to trigger the spirit of learning, hard work, motivation, determination, and encouragement. Mentors are invariably seen as role models for professional development over time by their mentees. Mentors can be instrumental in conveying explicit sense of professional encouragement from which mentees draw knowledge and energy for effective provision of service to the people.
The Zambia Association of Gynaecologists and Obstetricians (ZAGO) attach great importance to the role mentorship plays in facilitating knowledge transfer in health facilities. The Association believes that to enhance provision of healthcare service in the country, there’s need to invest resources in mentorship programs as an ongoing learning system in order to strengthen and sharpen skills. Thus, it is of great essence to build support, education, and personal development between mentors and mentees for greater productivity, career satisfaction, and personal happiness. Maximizing satisfaction and productivity of such relationships entails self-awareness, focus, mutual respect, and explicit communication about the relationship.
It is for this reason that ZAGO invested more time and resources in the provision of onsite mentorship to transfer skills to mentees in selected public health facilities in Central and Copperbelt Provinces. This followed a training in CAC mentorship to 19 mentors in October 2021, ten of whom were supported by ZAGO to provide onsite mentorships in their respective districts. The mentorship program targeted largely providers of Comprehensive Abortion Care (CAC) in health facilities including, Nampundwe, Sichobo and Kapyanga health facilities in Sibuyunji district; Chowa, Kasanda, and Ngungu health facilities in Kabwe; Chalata and Nkumbi in Mkushi district; Coppermine and Old Mkushi in Luanu district; Chimwemwe, Kawama, Ndeke and Twatasha clinics in Kitwe; Lubuto, New Masala, Sikongo, and Chipokota in Ndola; Serenje General Hospital, Mulima rural health centre, and Serenje Urban clinic in Serenje district; Chitambo General Hospital and Mpelembe rural health centre in Chitambo district.
During the course of the mentorship process in the aforementioned health facilities, mentors focussed on the development of optimal professional mentoring relationships, emphasizing the importance of different approaches to mentorship: roles of the mentors and mentees; mentor and mentee benefits; interprofessional mentorships for CAC providers; gender and mentorship, as well as culture and mentorship. Practical hands-on experience, knowledge and expertise on patients seeking CAC services was demonstrated as a way of transferring skill to the mentees. This was important for fourfold: to build confidence in the mentees or CAC providers, improve and sharpen mentees skills; develop supportive and encouraging professional relationship between mentor and mentee; and provide professional guidance.
This program falls under the overarching pillar of enhancing CAC services to women and adolescents countrywide in an effort to reduce maternal morbidity and mortality arising from unsafe abortions. ZAGO believes that to enhance service provision in health facilities, providers need to feel supported in their respective work environments. Mentorship therefore validates the support system critical for effective provision of services across the health spectrum.