Successful use of tele-mentoring by health mentors and mentees in estonian pilot

Estonian pilot update

The tele-mentoring pilot is carried out by the Estonian Society of Family Doctors (ESFD). The University of Tartu, Faculty of Medicine, Chair of Polyclinic and Family Medicine, is providing support through guided teaching and the Technical University of Tallinn through know-how in eHealth. The participants in the pilot are four experienced mentors who have supervised many young colleagues during their residency. The four mentees are novices in the profession and have a few years' experience in working in a rural area. The mentors and mentees participating in the pilot have no previous experience in tele-mentoring. The pilot is running in two family medicine centres that are at least over 20 km away from the main hospitals in Estonia. The kick-off meeting was in December 2012, where tele-mentoring tools were introduced to the participants. The tools used in the pilot are Skype (whiteboard, desktop sharing) and the Svoog eLearning environment (mail, forum, event calendar, video presentations, chat), as well as Moodle for courses (mail, forum and Personal Development Planning calendar).

Many different methods of communication are tested in the new eLearning environment. First, the communication between colleagues in the family doctors' email list (discussing different cases, interesting findings, analysing these, exchanging experience, asking questions from colleagues etc.). The new web based environment enables one-on-one communication (chat) as well as communication in a community (mentors and mentees).
Secondly, we have created a forum for discussing different clinical subjects and also operational subjects. We are glad to witness that mentors and mentees in our pilot are using the forum successfully and quite many topics have already been discussed, for example whether elevated high cholesterol (HDL) needs treatment. We have asked the people involved to fill in a questionnaire about every topic that is discussed, to find out how the info was exchanged and if the participants were satisfied with the result and with the means of communication. The third test is linked to the eLearning environment that has been built on the basis of Moodle courses. Nowadays, many universities are using Moodle as an eLearning platform. The first course that was created in Moodle is called Professional Development Planning. This course is meant to identify personal learning needs by pinpointing the events in practice that need reflection or activity and making a personal learning agenda. In our pilot the participants have to create a consultation diary using the Patient Unmet Needs & Doctors' Educational Needs / Patient Actual Met needs method. This course was created with the help of the University of Tartu, Faculty of Medicine, Chair of Polyclinic and Family Medicine. The course started at the beginning of May.

In addition to the opportunities already named, there is also a calendar that contains information about conferences and different training courses and there are links to useful sites, presentation slides and video presentations. The key points when creating a new environment are easy access, user-friendliness and handiness. All sorts of different functions should be together in one place so that later physicians will start to use it daily. Our environment wants to meet all these needs. It is characteristic of eLearning that, in addition to colleagues' support for lifelong learning, one also has the support of a social network and we are hoping that this is something that will help to decrease brain drain and professional isolation.