In a nursing mentorship, a more experienced nurse acts as a guide, expert and role model for a new or less-experienced nurse. Whether you are a new graduate from a BSN program or a seasoned pro, a mentoring relationship can help you develop new skills and advance your career.
According to the Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses, “Mentoring is a reciprocal and collaborative learning relationship between two, sometimes more, individuals with mutual goals and shared accountability for the outcomes and success of the relationship.” The Academy states that mentoring can guide nurses in their professional, personal and interpersonal growth.
Mentoring is especially useful in helping orient new nurses in the healthcare world, improve their self-confidence, understand moral and ethical issues and develop real-world skills not covered in nursing school. Mentoring helps more experienced nurses move into leadership positions and shift the focus of their careers.
Mentorship Is Good for the Profession
According to The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, “Mentoring helps cultivate nurse leaders, retain nurses, and diversify the nursing workforce.” By strengthening the nursing workforce, nursing mentorship improves the quality of patient care and outcomes. The Foundation identifies three specific benefits:
- Mentoring can foster the leadership skills that nurses need to secure larger roles in developing, designing and delivering health care.
- Mentoring relationships inside healthcare organizations and academic institutions can help those organizations retain nurses and nurse educators, reducing the cost of turnover.
- Mentoring can help diversify the mostly white and female profession by supporting minority and male nurses. This diversification can lead to fewer health disparities within the population by providing diverse role models.
Successful Nursing Mentorship
According to mentoring guidelines from the Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses, “Successful mentoring relationships must be built on trust, openness to self-disclosure, affirmation, and willingness and skill in giving and receiving feedback.” The guidelines state the following:
- The mentor and mentee must trust each other.
- They both must be willing to share information about themselves, including unpleasant experiences they have had.
- They both must give constructive feedback — positive and negative.
- Mentors need to let mentees know regularly that they believe the mentee will succeed.
Finding a Nursing Mentor
Some organizations offer formal mentorship programs. Some mentorships arise spontaneously. If you want to set up your own nursing mentorship, here are some questions to ask yourself:
- What do you want from a mentor? Personal development and new skills? Networking opportunities? Guidance dealing with difficult professional situations?
- What are your strengths and weaknesses? Which new skills do you want to develop?
- What qualities do you want in a mentor?
- How do you want to interact with the mentor, and how will you meet? Do you want a mentor from the organization where you currently work or an outsider?
Based on your answers to these questions, make a list of potential mentors who match your requirements. If you need suggestions, ask your colleagues for recommendations.
When you ask someone to be your mentor, do so either in person or on the phone so you can monitor the initial response. Explain what you want out of the mentorship and why you are asking this individual in particular. If the first person you ask is hesitant — nursing mentorship can be time-consuming for the mentor — do not push. Move on to other options.
After completing an online BSN program, your career development becomes your responsibility. Consider the value of a nursing mentorship, first as a mentee and later as the mentor. By participating in mentor-mentee relationships, you will help improve the nursing profession.
Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses (2012). AMSN Mentoring Program Mentor Guide. AMSN Mentoring Program
Henry, A. (2014, August 25). How Do I Ask Someone to Be My Mentor? LifeHacker.com
Hnatiuk, C.N. (2013, March 30). Mentoring Nurses Toward Success. MinorityNurse.com
Institute of Medicine (2010). The Future of Nursing. National Academies Press
NurseTogether.com (2013, October 29). 5 Steps to Finding a Nurse Mentor Who Will Lead You to Success.
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (2013, January 10). Mentoring: A Boon to Nurses, the Nursing Profession, and Patients, Too.
Trossman, S. (2013, September 3). Better prepared workforce, better retention. TheAmericanNurse.org
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