Novice nurses who participate in a nurse mentorship program experience more confidence in their professional development within six months of the program, according to a 2017 study by Nurse Today. Mentorship programs are designed to encourage growth within an organization and provide new nurses with a structured program to integrate them into their career. The benefits of these programs also extend to the mentor, who must sharpen their skill set to provide mentees with the necessary support.
Professionals who are looking to pursue an opportunity as a nurse mentor should consider an advanced degree in nursing.
What Is Nurse Mentorship?
Nurse mentorship is a synergetic relationship between a beginning nurse (the mentee) and a nurse with multiple years of experience (the mentor). Nurse mentorship programs are meant to encourage mutual professional growth between both the mentor and the mentee through a dynamic and supportive relationship.
The role of a mentor is to provide daily guidance to their mentee and to support them in the development of their nursing skills. This one-on-one experience should provide a safe space for novice nurses to ask questions and learn the social and professional inner workings of their industry. The overall goal for the mentor is to teach, coach and inspire their mentee.
There are a variety of ways in which nurses can enroll or participate in mentorship programs. Students who are enrolled in nursing schools can develop professional relationships with professors or nurse educators. These relationships can potentially lead to internship opportunities. Moreover, students can ask a nursing educator or professor if they can shadow them while they are working in the lab or the hospital. If a student is unable to connect with a mentor or is hesitant to ask, they can contact their academic adviser to see if there are any internships available.
Another way novice nurses can join nurse mentorship programs is through their employer. In some healthcare facilities, the human resource department will match novice nurses with more experienced nurses who are willing to mentor and educate them. Alternatively, novice nurses may be allowed and encouraged to select a mentor they are comfortable with.
After a mentee is matched with a mentor, they will discuss the goals they both want to achieve from their working relationship. If a formal mentorship program does not exist, a beginning nurse can ask the HR department to connect them with an opportunity. They can also ask an experienced nurse if they can shadow them. Lastly, novice nurses can connect with other nurses online to seek further opportunities.
Why Nurse Mentorship Is Important
Novice nurses who participate in nurse mentorship programs are less likely to experience overwhelming workplace stress. Some organizations that have instituted these programs have experienced a “25% increase in nurse retention,” according to the Association of California Nurse Leaders. In addition to fostering higher job satisfaction, nurse mentorship programs can be beneficial to the financial stability of an organization. Furthermore, these programs can help organizations identify and groom novice nurses to become leaders, which saves time and money recruiting nurses for open senior positions.
These programs can often bring to light a novice nurse’s weaknesses and gaps in education that can then be addressed and remedied through a productive mentee/mentor partnership. This partnership can also help save the organization money, as less time is often spent on training new employees. Nurses will also feel more confident in performing their job duties because they have a mentor to call on in times of stress or uncertainty.
Both nurse educators and experienced nurses can benefit from the opportunity to become a mentor. Mentors are responsible for teaching new nurses the policies and procedures of the organization. Through this, mentors are able to gain further insight into the processes and procedures that exert a positive or negative influence on daily workflow. Based on this insight, mentors can institute new policies and procedures to manage and rework the overall workflow.
Finally, mentors can update and sharpen their own professional skills while training new employees. There may be policies and procedures they may have overlooked, or technical skills they may wish to hone through practice and teaching. Overall, the mentor-mentee relationship is meant to be mutually beneficial and foster growth.
Developing Nurse Mentorship Skills
Effective nurse mentors exhibit a variety of skills that equip them to provide new nurses with the support to excel. The key skills that make an excellent nurse mentor are knowledge of nursing principles, communication skills, problem-solving and decision-making tactics, as well as patience and empathy. These qualities encourage nurses to advance in their own careers and hopefully mentor the next generations of nurses.
- Knowledge of nursing: Nurse mentors must have a comprehensive knowledge of the medical field to effectively guide their mentees. Emergency room nurses and geriatric nurses have a different knowledge base, so novice nurses should choose a mentor with the knowledge base that aligns with their career path.
- Communication skills: Direct and open communication is necessary to develop a productive mentorship. Mentors should feel comfortable communicating with their mentees so they can convey organizational expectations and provide effective career guidance.
- Problem-solving/decision-making tactics: Mentors need problem-solving skills to effectively implement decision-making tactics that in some cases can result in the life or death of a patient. This skill set also enables mentors to develop a training system that will prepare new nurses for the real-world demands of the job.
- Patience and empathy: When working with a novice nurse, it’s important that a mentor exhibit patience and empathy. Many new nurses are both excited and nervous to begin their careers. It helps to remember that starting work in a new facility can be overwhelming.
Explore a Rewarding Career as a Nurse Mentor
Nurse educators and experienced nurses can advance their careers by pursuing opportunities to participate in nurse mentorship programs. To become leaders in the field, these professionals should consider an advanced degree in nursing that can prepare them to become mentors.
Duquesne University School of Nursing offers an online Master of Science in Nursing that can prepare students to care for patients as well as diagnose and develop treatment plans. Students who pursue this degree can choose a concentration in either Transcultural Nursing, Forensic Nursing, and Nursing Education and Faculty Role.
Students in the Nursing Education and Faculty Role concentration can expect to conduct research and work directly with nurse educators who will help them better understand the evolving healthcare landscape. Students who conduct research while in school are qualified to apply for certification as a Certified Nurse Educator granted by the National League of Nursing.
Explore Duquesne University’s online Master of Science in Nursing and learn how it can prepare you for a rewarding career as a nurse educator who is ready to mentor new nurses.
ACNL, “The Who, What, Where, When, and Why of a Mentorship”
American Nurse Journal, “Nurse Mentorships: A Two-Way Street”
BOS Medical, “The Benefits of Mentoring for New Nurses”
Johnson and Johnson, Nursing Mentorship
Nurse Choice, “Nurse Mentor: 5 Ways to Find a Nurse Mentor”
Nurse Education in Practice, “Supporting Nurse Mentor Development: An Exploration of Developmental Constellations in Nursing Mentorship Practice”
Nursing Management, “The Mentoring Relationship: Advantages for Both”