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
The AORN Journal identifies several benefits of creating mentoring relationships with less experienced nurses:
- Mentoring can foster the leadership skills that will help nurses influence not only the delivery of healthcare but also the environment.
- Mentoring relationships can help healthcare organizations retain nurses, reducing the cost of turnover.
- Mentoring can help diversify the profession, thereby reducing health disparities.
- Positive mentoring relationships help strengthen the profession and improve patient outcomes.
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 in a two-way conversation 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.
Learn about UTA's online RN to BSN program.
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