The liminal landscape of mentoring - Stories of physicians becoming mentors
AuthorValestrand, Eivind Alexander; Hokstad, Leif Martin; Schei, Edvin; Ofstad, Eirik Hugaas; Stenfors, Terese; Kvernenes, Monika
Introduction: This study explores narratives of physicians negotiating liminality while becoming and being mentors for medical students. Liminality is the unstable phase of a learning trajectory in which one leaves behind one understanding but has yet to reach a new insight or position.
Methods: In this study, we analysed semi-structural interviews of 22 physician mentors from group-based mentoring programmes at two Norwegian and one Canadian medical school. In a dialogical narrative analysis, we applied liminality as a sensitising lens, focusing on informants' stories of becoming a mentor.
Results: Liminality is an unavoidable aspect of developing as a mentor. Which strategies mentors resort to when facing liminality are influenced by their narrative coherence. Some mentors thrive in liminality, enjoying the possibility of learning and developing as mentors. Others deem mentoring and the medical humanities peripheral to medicine and thus struggle with integrating mentor and physician identities.They may contradict themselves as they shift between their multiple identities,resulting in rejection of the learning potentials that liminality affords.
Conclusion: Mentors with integrated physician and mentor identities can embrace liminality and develop as mentors. Those mentors with contradicting dialogues between their identities may avoid liminality if it challenges their understanding of who they are and make them experience discomfort, confusion and insufficiency while becoming a mentor. Support of the mentoring role from the clinical culture may help these physicians develop internal dialogues that reconcile their clinician and mentor identities.