Mentorship in Nursing: Benefits & Why It's Essential
Starting your nursing career or advancing in the profession can be overwhelming. Textbooks only prepare you so much for the floor, classroom, or conference room. Once you're established in your nursing career, you may think, "If I only knew then what I know now."
The wisdom gained from years of nursing experience can't be easily defined. Rather than gaining proficiency through trial and error and lessons learned over the years, nursing mentorship can benefit the nurse mentor, the mentee, and the organization.
The Importance of Mentorship in Nursing
Whatever stage you're at in your nursing career, there are benefits to being or having a nurse mentor. As a mentor, you'll guide and oversee less experienced nurses and help facilitate their career development. This dynamic, supportive relationship provides tremendous growth opportunities and can be conducted formally or informally.
The importance of mentoring in nursing includes the opportunity to challenge the mentee and their mentor to think differently while considering areas for professional improvement. This one-on-one relationship sometimes lasts for years and benefits both the mentor and mentee.
How Mentoring Benefits the Mentee
• Enjoy more career satisfaction
• Receive ongoing direction, support, and advice
• Gain insight into a nursing role or specialty
• Expand your professional network
• Discover career development opportunities
• Refine problem-solving skills
• Reduce stress associated with transitioning roles
• Feel less overwhelmed on the job
• Get guidance from a role model
How Mentoring Benefits the Mentor
• Re-energize your passion for nursing
• Obtain honest feedback about current policies and procedures
• Gain a fresh perspective on the latest nursing trends
• Evaluate your communication skills to determine what's ineffective, confusing, or misleading
• Assist in developing another nurse's career while you develop your own
• Give back to the next generation of nurses
• Understand and learn from generational differences
• Contribute toward a positive work culture
How Mentoring Benefits the Organization
• Displays support for ongoing learning
• Conveys the organization's willingness to embrace change
• Improves nurse recruitment and retention
• Provides succession planning that ensures an understanding of a company's history and mission
• Promotes enhanced teamwork by emphasizing overall goals
• Contributes to high-quality patient care and better patient outcomes
• Identifies and nurtures future nurse leaders
What Makes an Effective Mentor-Mentee Relationship?
Mutual trust and respect form the basis of the nurse mentor-mentee relationship. Whether the relationship is formal or informal, clear goals and expectations of what each hope to achieve should be defined at the start.
Where Can I Find a Nursing Mentor?
Some professional networking sites offer Nurse Mentorship Programs that assist in matching experienced nurse mentors and novice nurse mentees, such as the American Nurses Association (ANA). You can also check with your facility's human resource department. They may have an internal program that matches mentors and mentees based on defined characteristics and a willingness to support and educate.
There are various ways to find a nursing mentor, such as:
• Asking other nurses in your workplace for recommendations
• Reaching out to a professor if you're a nursing student
• Shadowing a nurse working in the specialty or area you want to pursue
Choosing the Right Nurse Mentor
When selecting a nurse mentor, identify the goals you hope to achieve from the relationship. Certain characteristics can help you determine if your mentor is the correct fit for you. Admirable traits include:
• Effective communication
• Easy accessibility
• Excellent rapport
• Clear insight into the specialty, unit, or career path you're considering
• Trustworthiness and respect
• Positive role model
How to Become a Nurse Mentor
If you think you'd make a good nurse mentor, there are specific characteristics that will contribute to your success. These traits include:
• Strong knowledge of nursing principles
• Clear communication skills
• Excellent problem-solving and decision-making skills
• Empathy — remember, you were once in their shoes
Providing the high-quality care patients expect from their nurses requires a commitment to lifelong learning. The time you invest in becoming a nurse mentor is well worth the satisfaction you'll get from helping your mentee grow and succeed in their career. Explore the nursing leadership and excellence education materials available to grow your skills as a mentor. ANA members can enroll as either a mentor or mentee through the ANA Mentorship Program.