When done right, mentoring helps impart IT wisdom to older docs

It's happening across the business spectrum and healthcare is part of the growing trend: Millennials coming into the workforce are often far more adept at using technology in the workplace than their more experienced colleagues.

But not all physicians are comfortable or experienced using technology as part of their practice. To help transfer knowledge between generations, some healthcare organizations are participating in reverse mentoring programs, American Medical News reports.

The catch: not many healthcare organizations are pushing structured reverse mentoring programs since giving advice to more senior physicians requires a "delicate touch." In fact, the article notes, many organizations don't even call it mentoring--reverse or otherwise.

Teaching older physicians how to use technology is challenging but not hopeless, notes FiercePracticeManagement. Newer physicians that have grown up with technology have a good deal of knowledge to impart. And as long as they employ best practices--such as dedicated meeting times and a regular schedule--mentoring can go smoothly. It might even be enjoyable.

According to Amednews, younger physicians should keep in mind several points when teaching their more seasoned counterparts about technology. They include understanding the cause of resistance, avoiding technical jargon, promoting dialogue and practicing mutual respect and listening skills.

The bottom line is that mentoring relationships work both ways. As younger physicians teach their older counterparts about social media, more seasoned professionals can pass on their knowledge on bedside manner or in-depth knowledge about a specific area of medicine.

Looking for best practices and successful programs? Look to the wider business world. As Kim Yong-seong, a professor at the Institute of Global Management points out in a commentary recently published in the Korea Times, younger colleagues teaching older ones has become standard practice across the corporate landscape--from IBM to Ogilvy and Mather.

One caveat from Yong-seong: "Reverse mentoring requires humility and a willingness to learn on the part of the experienced managers. Thus, in a culture that values respecting the elders, this approach may be harder to adopt." 

To learn more:
- read this amednews article
- here's the commentary from the Korea Times

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