The further I go on in life, the more convinced I am that every Christian is a struggling Christian dependent on help from brothers and sisters who know their needs and vulnerabilities. Lungs don't work without hearts, or legs without feet. We're simply not designed for solo flight."
Rebecca McLaughlin - Confronting Christianity
Tuakana Support Guidelines
Regular Catch-ups Whether you meet together monthly or fortnightly, it's best to aim to catch up regularly. At your first catch up with, discuss what shape you'd like your time together to take. You may decide to meet for a coffee at a local cafe, church, at the hospital or your flat. At times, due to placements or time pressures, the best way to make it work may be to connect via Zoom from time-to-time. You're both busy people, and need to respect each other's time: keep your catch-ups to an hour. Plan ahead, and put dates in the diary. Moving a catch-up if need be, or connecting with a phone call, is better than finding two months have passed since you last spoke.
Prayer Come prayerfully to your time together, and make time between catch-ups to remember one another in prayer. Be alert to the Lord's work in your lives, and to the ways in which he is working and answering prayer. Whenever you meet, spend some time in prayer together. Commit the things you talk about together to the Lord in prayer, and pray for the concerns and pressures that you each are facing.
Different Approaches There will be occasions when you will simply spend time together sharing about what's 'on top' and in prayer for each other. Other times you'll dip into Scripture together, reading a Psalm, a gospel passage or an epistle together and considering the challenge and the invitation that it presents. Sometimes you'll appreciate having some resources to work through and discuss together: articles or devotionals written by Christian medical students or doctors, or Bible studies designed for medical students. See below for more on this.
Openness & Vulnerability Your sharing sets the tone for your time together: it is your vulnerability which will 'set the table' for the other to share honestly with you. You don't need to have it all together! Sharing your story and the challenges you have faced or are wrestling with invites openness and God’s grace: 'If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.' (1 John 1:7)
Laughter & Trust Remember that your time together doesn't need to be heavy and serious to be meaningful! Laughter and humour can build connection and bring much needed relief in the middle of your training. What is vital is a sense of trust and safety between you. Be clear that what is shared is shared in confidence.
Consider Wellbeing One framework for sharing together that may be helpful to you is the Māori model of hauora, or wellbeing, through the concept of te whare tapa whā. Encompassing four dimensions of health and wellbeing: taha tinana (physical wellbeing), taha hinengaro (mental and emotional wellbeing), taha whānau (social well-being) and taha wairua (spiritual wellbeing), it is a reminder of the importance of taking care of all aspects of our well-being.
A suggested structure for a mentoring session.
- Make sure your meeting place is quiet and somewhere you are unlikely to be disturbed. A glass of water and tissues may be useful.
- Give each other time to settle. Open with prayer, asking for wisdom.
If it is the first session, you could each share a little about yourselves.
- Discuss expectations and goals of mentoring if it is the first session.
- What you are hoping to get out of the sessions: e.g. fellowship, difficult situations discussion, career advice, going through and discussing a book together etc.
- Frequency of meetings and time: usually one hour, once every month
- Confidentiality: an exception is if there is a risk of harm to self or others
- Who is responsible for what: e.g. initiating meetings
- Timely notification if cancelling a session and respect for each other’s time
- Ask what teina/mentee would like to discuss in the session.
If there is some hesitancy, some prompts can be helpful.
- What have been opportunities and challenges to living out your faith in the everyday life as a medical student/doctor since we last met?
- Are there any situations (e.g. a difficult patient interaction, a death, an interaction with a colleague) that you would like to talk about?
- Are there specific topics or issues you would like to talk through?
- You might also consider a different approach such as reading the Scripture together, or discussing a book or devotional together.
- Listen well and ask appropriate questions.
- Keep to time where possible.
- As the meeting closes clarify goals and objectives for the next meeting. Consider presenting tasks to complete. Consider booking in a time for the next meeting before finishing.
- Finish with prayer. You could ask ‘How can I be praying for you?’
- Make a few notes after the session such as goals or other tasks.
- Remember each other in between meetings and pray for each other and for the next meeting. Consider encouraging each other with messaging.
Tuakana Support Resources
CMFnz is a member organisation of the ICMDA (the International Christian Medical and Dental Association) and we're grateful to be able to share with you resources prepared by the ICMDA and two other national movements: UK's Christian Medical Fellowship and the Christian Medical and Dental Fellowship of Australia. Have a look through the resources available and consider which may be useful to you.
Kindly shared with us by the Christian Medical and Dental Fellowship of Australia (CMDFA), SYNAPSE is a series of flexible Bible studies designed to spark discussion and personal reflection. Developed with medical students and graduates in mind, there are ten Synapse studies, in either a ‘mini’ 20 minute format, or a more detailed 60 minute format, to allow deeper exploration of the themes and Scriptures.
Highly accessible, topics include Dangers of being a healthcare student: drifting and entanglement; The opportunity that being a healthcare student provides; The Lordship of Jesus Christ over everything; Your goal as a healthcare student for the year ahead.