Friday, April 17, 2015 | News

Clinical mentoring: A two-way learning process that improves abortion care

At many Ipas-supported health facilities around the world, providers newly trained in comprehensive abortion care are getting individualized clinical support as they begin service provision—the instruction, observation, coaching, encouragement and constructive feedback of experienced providers who are serving as clinical mentors.

Dr. Francis Bongo of Zambia is one of many Ipas-trained clinical mentors who make time in their busy schedules to support newly trained providers. One of his motivations is his belief that clinical mentorship ultimately leads to improved care for women—for both mentors’ and providers’ clients.

“By observing providers, I have been able to perfect my own clinical skills. Correcting and demonstrating the gaps in their
skills, I see my own positives as well as shortcomings. In that sense, mentees are our mirrors,” he says.

Other Ipas-trained clinical mentors agree with Bongo’s observation that mentoring is a two-way learning process. “The questions from the providers I’m mentoring present both an opportunity and a challenge,” says one Ipas clinical mentor in India. “It enhances my ability to work in diverse situations in the field, and has helped me improve my personal clinical skills.”

Speaking from the other side of the mentor-mentee relationship, a provider in India who received mentoring says the experience “was very enriching…I gained a lot of confidence. This will certainly improve patient care, as my mentor encouraged me to engage with the women, to counsel them and motivate them to come again for follow-up care.”

Dr. Sangeeta Batra, senior director for health systems with the Ipas Development Foundation in India, says the Ipas clinical mentoring program in India has been very successful.

“Our mentors are all very busy gynecologists,” she says, “but we are able to coordinate their time so that they can do in-person visits to the providers’ sites, and do coaching and demonstrations. We have found that it is their instant support at crucial moments that matters the most. Sometimes it’s just one small point that the mentor needs to answer for the provider.”

Working side by side to improve clinical skills and confidence

In all Ipas country programs with a clinical mentoring component, newly trained providers are assigned a clinical mentor. The goal is to ensure that newly trained providers are:

  • Clinically competent
  • Clinically confident
  • Serving women and providing services according to established standards of care
  • Documenting service delivery and adverse events appropriately

“The literature shows that mentoring is an effective way to improve employees’ job satisfaction and retention, clinical performance and client care and satisfaction. Providers and mentors in a mentoring relationship report greater productivity,” says Katherine L. Turner, Ipas senior health systems advisor and lead author of Ipas’s Clinical Mentoring and Provider Support for Abortion-Related Care training manual.

“We have seen these effects in Ipas’s clinical mentoring programs, which foster rapport and trust between providers and mentors. Ipas-trained mentors work side by side with their mentees to demonstrate and observe clinical skills and engage in joint problem-solving and coaching to identify and resolve gaps in clinical skills and support high-quality service provision.”

In Ipas programs with a clinical mentoring component, mentors are part of a larger provider support team that offers programmatic as well as clinical support. The makeup of the team can vary, but can include facility managers, program coordinators and community advisory members. In some cases, the team includes young women who can provide input on
the quality of abortion services being offered to young women.

The Ipas program also tracks providers’ progress over time. According to Turner, the data gathered from progress reports show that clinical mentors and their mentees stay in contact in a variety of ways—such as in-person visits, telephone calls and text messages—and that they discuss not only clinical skills but matters such as commodity supply
levels and facility repairs.

“All newly trained abortion care providers should have mentorship,” says Dr. Moses Mataa, an Ipas-trained clinical mentor in Zambia. “It helps them know they are not alone, and helps reinforce their confidence
to provide the service safely and effectively.”

Ipas clinical mentoring resources

Clinical Mentoring and Provider Support for Abortion-Related Care is a training manual for clinical mentors and others providing clinical and programmatic support to health-care providers offering abortion-related care.

Related Resources – Clinical Mentoring and Provider Support for Abortion-Related Care is a package of materials including a PowerPoint presentation, the literature review on clinical mentoring, and other resources.

In addition, Ipas has training, service delivery and monitoring tools not included in the training manual or package of related resources.

These materials include the following:

  • Provider Baseline Report
  • Provider Progress Report
  • Site Logbook entry forms
  • Site Baseline Report
  • Site Progress Report
  • Site Set Up Checklist

If you are interested in viewing and adapting these materials for use in your own programs, please contact training@ipas.org.

For more information, contact media@ipas.org