Cardiff Met's Senior Lecturer in Environmental & Public Health, Alastair Tomlinson, has led the development of a brand new mentoring scheme which was launched by the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) this week. The scheme will help Environmental Health Practitioners (EHPs) carry out robust research into the issues they face in their day-to-day practice, as well as teach them how best to promote it to their colleagues and professional partners.
Exclusively available to CIEH members, the new scheme aims to build capacity and confidence within the profession for evidence-based professional practice, and to support EHPs to disseminate the evaluation of their work.
The CIEH's Education and Research Special Interest Group launched the mentoring scheme on 12 November 2015 at the CIEH Research Practice Conference, held at Middlesex University.
Development of the mentoring scheme has been led by Cardiff Met's Alastair Tomlinson alongside members of the CIEH's Education & Research Special Interest Group.
The aim throughout the development stage has been to strengthen the evidence base for environmental health interventions and share best practice so EHPs can effectively influence and conduct activities which will ultimately improve public health.
Mentoring schemes are well-established in other professions and benefit the participant and their organisation, as well as the mentor themselves. For example, participants develop their learning and analytical skills, organisations can widen their skills base and help achieve their mission and aims, and mentors can improve their leadership skills.
The mentoring scheme is a key element of the CIEH's five-year research strategy and is based on recognised best practice, including extensive support resources via the CIEH website.
To be eligible to take up this opportunity, interested EHPs will have to be a CIEH member, have an outline idea for a research project when applying and most importantly, be enthusiastic and motivated.
Through the mentoring scheme, participants will be supported in turning their idea into reality, laying down the foundations for a research project, gathering and analysing data and presenting their research findings.
Applicants can expect to be matched with a mentor who will have experience in their chosen field of study, has a qualification related to environmental health, a proven track record in research and lives within a reasonable distance.
And once selected, participants and mentors will be able to decide amongst themselves how they want to work together, whether it is monthly meetings or phone calls using an internet service like Skype.
Alastair Tomlinson said: "Having a robust evidence base is extremely important for the environmental health profession and we have a rich source of intelligence from our members, the very people who are working on the front-line promoting and protecting public health. But not everyone is confident at turning an idea into a robust research project or how best to share their findings with the wider community.
"This new mentoring scheme will help the CIEH's members achieve exactly that by supporting them to research and evaluate their own practice effectively, as well as how to promote it to their colleagues and the wider public health community. That could be via a peer-reviewed research article, but also blog posts, or presentations at professional events and conferences."
Alastair added: "If you're an EHP interested in researching your area of work, but aren't sure where to start, get in touch with the scheme – we're here to help. If you think you could offer support and advice to a fellow professional in undertaking and writing up their research, we invite you to join the scheme as a mentor.
"There are benefits to all those involved from the participants and mentors to employers and the profession as a whole. CPD points will also be available."
For further information about how to apply to be a participant or a mentor click here.