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Department: Ask an Expert

Mentoring for success

Lockhart, Lisa MHA, MSN, RN, NE-BC

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doi: 10.1097/01.NME.0000489910.67788.93
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Q: Why do we need mentoring in nursing?

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A: With so much discussion about bullying in nursing and nurse burnout/turnover, we're left wondering: “How do we combat this trend?” One answer to aid in recruitment, retention, and the promotion of a healthy work environment is mentoring. A mentor is a role model and advocate who motivates the mentee and supports his or her career development by sharing experiences and knowledge. As mentors, seasoned nurses can pass along skills that enable their mentees to thrive in our profession, from novice to expert.

How does this differ from being a preceptor? The professional relationship between a preceptor and a newly hired employee may be temporary as he or she orients the new nurse to the clinical area. The preceptor teaches skill sets, techniques, and the necessary knowledge base to navigate the unit—all invaluable to new team members. The mentor provides a more supportive relationship as a sounding board, a coach, and a professional guide. A mentor bolsters the beginner in the development of critical-thinking skills, assisting him or her in seeing the bigger picture. “I see nurses moving along in their careers further faster, so a mentor can give them the tips they need to help them read between the lines and transition more smoothly into their new role,” said Angela McBride, PhD, RN, FAAN, author of The Growth and Development of Nurse Leaders.

There are several professional organizations that advocate for mentoring in nursing. The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses, the American Nurses Association, and the Emergency Nurses Association all provide tools to guide organizations in the development of a mentoring program. One key to success is education for the mentor and mentee to establish ground rules and expectations, and allow for the provision of resources. Additionally, a procedure for collecting participant feedback should be in place, including satisfaction with the process, perception of success and/or failure, and recommendations for program improvement.

With both partners engaged in the mentoring relationship, as well as executive support, a solid mentoring program can decrease turnover and set a positive cultural tone for the organization. This helps shape future organizational success and the professional achievement of its nurses. Participation in a mentoring program provides the mentor and mentee with an opportunity for growth and learning, both professionally and personally.

REFERENCES

American Nurses Association. Better prepared workforce, better retention. www.theamericannurse.org/index.php/2013/09/03/better-prepared-workforce-better-retention.
    Dracup K, Bryan-Brown CW. From novice to expert to mentor: shaping the future. Am J Crit Care. 2004;13(6):448–450.
    Kuhl L. Closing the revolving door: a look at mentoring. Chart, Journal of Illinois Nursing. 2005;102(2):9.
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