Mentorship is a gift that nurses can give to the profession. It is a contribution to not only the future generation, but also to nurses of all experience levels in the present moment.
Mentorship may involve a formal relationship or an informal one. Many excellent programs are available to guide nurses on how to become mentors and establish mentoring relationships. Some of the best mentors, however, may have never attended a formal class. The most important prerequisite is a sincere interest in supporting nurses on their professional journey.
Mentors need the ability to listen carefully without being critical, the integrity and character strength to maintain confidentiality, and the objectivity to offer sound feedback. The mentor's role is not to make choices for an individual, but to bring clarity to situations and to help the mentee explore options and viable solutions.
When considering a good mentor, look for the approachable, trustworthy colleague who is not only a nonjudgmental sounding board, but also someone who can willingly share honest feedback and provide valid, objective guidance. Mentors exist in all manner of nursing roles and titles, including coworkers past and present. They may be external to your workplace. Seek out those who have experience and perspective in the areas where advice is desired.
Mentors are often sought for guidance in navigating unit-based or organizational culture issues, making career-related decisions, or handling challenging situations. A nurse can have more than one mentor depending on the areas of professional need; each will bring a different type of expertise and life experience. Some exceptional mentor relationships survive the test of time and distance and live on even after work transitions occur. These connections can span a nursing career.
We are experiencing tumultuous times in nursing. Now more than ever, many nurses feel derailed and are seeking guidance to get back on track. Professional needs are evolving and changing. Being a mentor in these times, as well as having mentor connections to people you trust at any career stage, is of great value. When the mentor–mentee connection is strong, the relationship is mutually fulfilling.
Truthfully, not all mentor-mentee relationships are strong or viable, but when that connection is the right one, the results can foster growth and influence sound professional choices. It is never too late to engage mentors as you chart a course into the future—or to become a mentor yourself.
Until next time,
LINDA LASKOWSKI-JONES, MS, APRN, ACNS-BC, CEN, NEA-BC, FAWM, FAAN