Upon completion of this activity, participants should be able to:
- Define mentorship.
- Discuss the history of mentoring.
- Describe the important components of a mentor-mentee relationship.
- Identify the benefits of and barriers to mentoring.
- Briefly list additional mentoring resources for the learner.
The purpose of this course is to provide nurses with information and current evidence-based best practices for mentoring in nursing.
Remember what it was like for you to be a new nurse? Did you have more experienced nurses to turn to for mentoring and support with decision making as you navigated the healthcare organization and began your career as a novice nurse? Clark (2013) defines mentoring as:
A relationship between an individual with potential (mentee) and an individual with expertise (mentor), The role of the mentor is to guide the professional development of the mentee by sharing knowledge, experience, wisdom and perspective within the context of mutual respect. (p. 87)
Mentoring can have a positive influence on career success and job satisfaction, both for the mentee and the mentor. The mentee gains self confidence as his or her knowledge, skills and abilities in the chosen nursing specialty advances along Benner’s (1991) continuum from novice to advanced beginner to competent to proficient and eventually to expert.
Dr. Patricia Benner (1991) developed the novice to expert theoretical framework for nursing practice. According to Benner, both new nurses and experienced nurses who take on a new role or nursing specialty are considered to be novices. The nurse, throughout the course of his or her career journey, progresses along a continuum from novice to expert. Successfully navigating this journey is facilitated by a solid mentor-mentee relationship (Garbutt, 2014). It is important to note that the nurse may have one or more mentors in his or her career (Jakubik, Weese, Elaides & Huth, 2017).
The Miller-Keane Dictionary of Medicine, Nursing and Allied Health (2003) defines mentorship as “a type of preparation for a professional role, in which a mentor works closely with another person to teach, guide and support; it differs from preceptorship in being more intense and of longer duration”.
According to Gruber-Page (2016), Posluszny (2014), and Potter & Tolson (2014), there is a continual need to develop and grow nurses with clinical expertise, nurse faculty, and nurse researchers. Mentoring, where the nurse initiates and maintains an ongoing mentor-mentee relationship, is critical to paying it forward and developing the next generation of nurse experts. Mentoring can occur in the workplace or in an academic setting. Nurse faculty are often sought out by undergraduate or graduate nursing students as mentors. Graduate students and/or senior nursing students may actively mentor junior nursing students or undergraduate students who have a goal of earning a graduate degree in nursing (pursuing a career as an advanced practice nurse, nurse educator and/or nurse researcher) (Gruber-Page, 2016; Posluszny, 2017; Potter & Tolson, 2014).
Posluszny (2014) asserts that “mentoring is a key ingredient to building successful graduate nurses who may choose to enter the perioperative profession” (p. 568). In this instance, mentoring occurs when a nurse in clinical practice mentors an undergraduate nursing student who has shown an aptitude for or expressed an interest in a specific clinical specialty.
When a novice or an experienced nurse begins a new job in a hospital or other healthcare setting, that nurse is required to participate in and complete a new employee orientation. The length of the orientation will vary, depending upon the individual nurse’s level of experience. Orientation typically includes classroom and clinical components with the purpose of equipping that nurse with the knowledge and skills to function safely and autonomously in that healthcare setting (Jakubik, et al., 2017).
A new graduate nurse, will often transition from new employee orientation to a nurse residency program, where he or she works with an assigned preceptor. The purpose of the nurse residency program is to transition the new nurse from the utopia of the academic learning environment to the reality of the hospital or healthcare setting. The nurse residency program can last as long as twelve to eighteen months and is geared towards easing the role transition from nursing student to employee/novice nurse, increase job satisfaction, and positively impact retention of the nursing workforce (André, 2018; Gruber-Page, 2016; Jakubik, et al, 2017).
The mentoring phase should follow the orientation and nurse residency/preceptor phases of a nurse’s career, especially for new graduate nurses. Mentorship places an emphasis on career development and life-long learning which can be tailored to accommodate where that nurse is in his or her career journey, and the expertise of the mentor(s). For example, a nurse who is pursuing a new clinical specialty, such a critical care, would seek out an experienced critical are nurse as a mentor. Whereas a nurse who has decided to pursue a career in nursing administration would look for a mentor who is a seasoned nurse leader, manager or nurse executive (Jakubik, et al., 2017).
The History of Mentorship in Nursing and the Healthcare Professions
Florence Nightingale wrote her influential book Notes on Nursingin the nineteenth century. In the chapter on Observation of the Sick, Nightingale (1860) stated:
The most practical lesson that can be given to nurses is to teach them what to observe -- how to observe—what symptoms indicate improvement—what the reverse—which are of importance—which are of none……. all of this is ……an essential part of the training of every nurse (Chapter XIII, para. 2).
While best known for her pioneering work on infection prevention in early hospitals, Nightingale has also been viewed as one of the earliest mentors in nursing. Referred to in the literature as the “mentor of matrons”, she provided ongoing advice and positively contributed to nurses’ professional growth. (McDonald, 2013, p. 542;Olaolorunpo, 2019, p. 142).
When examining the history of mentorship in nursing and medical education, a discussion of some of the traditional teaching-learning methods used is pertinent. The concept of see one, do one, teach one has been used for decades in both medical and nursing education to teach psychomotor skills. The McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Modern Medicine (2002) defines see one, do one, teach one as “a traditional format for acquiring medical skills, based on a three-step process: visualize, perform, regurgitate.” The see one, do one, teach one method aligns with the internship, residency, or apprenticeship model used in healthcare education. However, in today’s fast-paced and ever-changing healthcare environment, a more comprehensive approach to career development for health care professionals is needed.
Mentoring encompasses more than skills mastery and knowledge acquisition, such as competently changing a sterile dressing or inserting an IV. In order for a nurse to provide safe, effective care to his or her patients, clinical judgement is needed too. When a nurse is new to the profession or has decided to be a novice in a new nursing specialty, the guidance, advice, and input from a mentor is critical (Gruber-Page, 2016; Posluszny, 2017; Potter & Tolson, 2014)
Finding the Right Fit: The Important Components of a Successful Mentor-Mentee Relationship
According to a concept analysis on mentoring in nursing completed by Olaolorunpo(2016) there are six attributes of mentoring that are supported in the literature: “role model, nurturing, friendship, experienced person, regular meeting(s), and endurance” (p. 145). The mentor often serves as a role model, a nurse with both clinical expertise, compassion and strong decision-making skills that the mentee would aspire to emulate. The mentor who is nurturing will encourage the mentee to ask questions, seek additional learning opportunities and to develop their knowledge, skills and abilities in a supportive environment. The mentor and mentee often develop a friendship, or long-lasting relationship based on trust and respect. The mentor needs to possess expertise in the nursing specialty in order to effectively coach and advise the mentee(s). A commitment to regular mentor-mentee meetings is a mentoring attribute which provides the time needed for ongoing mentoring to occur. The mentee can ask questions or seek additional information/resources during regular meetings. The mentor can review the mentee’s progress to date and work with the mentee to establish additional career goals. Lastly, the mentoring attribute of endurance means that both the mentor and the mentee are committed to the mentor-mentee relationship and the long-term professional benefits that can result. These professional benefits include increased proficiency in the chosen nursing specialty and job satisfaction. Nurses who have been mentored and consequently achieve professional success will often become mentors for less experienced nurse colleagues (Garbutt, 2014; Gruber-Page, 2016; Potter & Tolson, 2014).
Mentor and Mentee Characteristics
According to Gruber-Page (2016) “good mentors are kind, flexible, determined…. adapt to the learning preferences of their mentees, while sharing their expertise, time and insight’ (p. 422). Clark (2013) lists key characteristics that a mentee should possess: “demonstrate initiative and curiosity, a desire to learn, a commitment to improvement and willingness to seek guidance” (p. 87).
The Benefits of Mentoring
As the mentee embarks on their career journey, either as a new nurse, or in a new nursing specialty, the advice, support and guidance provided by a mentor is invaluable. Jakubik, Eliades, and Weese (2016) examined mentoring benefits for pediatric staff nurses and listed six mentoring benefits: “belonging, career optimism, competence, professional growth, security, and leadership readiness” (p. 38). Mentoring benefits are positive outcomes that result from the mentoring relationship that are experienced by the mentee, the mentor and/or the employer.
At first glance, it may seem that the mentee is the sole beneficiary of a mentoring relationship. However, the career benefits experienced by the mentor also need to be discussed. Mentors often find that mentoring less experienced colleagues can be rewarding. Norman (2011) addressed the key components of mentoring in a business or professional environment and noted that a mentor’s own career may reap benefits by having their career options expanded as the result of mentoring. This could come in the form of more leadership and management opportunities for the mentor.
Unfortunately, there are also barriers to mentoring. The healthcare organization or academic institution needs to adopt a culture that supports mentoring newer nurses or nurse faculty. Effective mentoring takes time and it is important for the mentor, the mentee, and the leadership in the academic setting or healthcare facility to be willing and able to commit to the time needed for effective mentoring. Nurse managers or academic deans can implement strategies such as allowing a percentage of the FTE (full time equivalent) or faculty workload to include mentoring. Another barrier to mentoring could be that the mentor may have a lack of experience as a mentor. One solution to a mentor’s lack of experience is a written resource such as a mentoring guide developed by their university (Potter & Tolson, 2014).
The healthcare organization can also benefit from mentoring. Research has shown that effective mentoring can positively impact the nurse’s work environment, decrease workplace incivility, and improve nurse retention (Clark, 2013; André, 2018). In addition, Friesen, Brady, Milligan and Christensen (2017) noted that combining continuing education with mentoring support can assist nurses with utilizing evidence-based practice to inform and guide their clinical practice. Using best evidence-based clinical practices in a healthcare organization can improve patient safety and clinical outcomes.
Mentoring throughout a nurse’s career, can occur several times, as that nurse changes his or her career specialty. The resources below are provided to give participants additional opportunities to network and seek out mentors.
- As a nurse continues their career journey, specific specialty organizations such as the Oncology Nurses Society or the American Association of Critical Care Nurses can also be a source of evidence-based information and opportunities to be mentored by more experienced nurses in that specialty.
- The American Nurses Association is a professional organization that supports nurses in the workforce and ongoing professional development.
- The National League for Nursing is a professional organization that supports nurse faculty and leaders in nursing education.
- Sigma Theta Tau Internationalis the international honor society for nurses which provides opportunities for networking and professional development locally, nationally, and globally.
A positive mentor-mentee relationship can positively impact the careers of the nurse being mentored (mentee) as well as the mentor. Mentoring can and should occur numerous times during a nurse’s career. Early career mentoring occurs as the nurse mentee navigates the complexities of his or her first nursing job. Mid-career mentoring occurs when an experienced nurse decides to pursue a new nursing specialty, become a nurse manager and/or pursue an advanced degree in nursing. Late-career mentoring would be appropriate for a nurse who may seek to reduce the number of hours worked or transition from a direct care role to a role in case management or staff development. Mentoring is life-long career success strategy that is a beneficial for the mentee, the mentor, and the employer (academia or health care organization). Gruber-Page (2016) notes that to be a mentor is an honor and to be mentored is a gift.
American Association of Critical Care Nurses. (2019). Retrieved from https://www.aacn.org/
American Nurses Association. (2019). Retrieved from https://www.nursingworld.org/ana/
André, S. (2018). Embracing generational diversity: reducing and managing workplace conflict. ORNAC Journal, 36(4), 13–35. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=ccm&AN=133410687&site=ehost-live
Benner, P. (2001). From Novice to expert: Excellence and power in clinical nursing practice. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Clark, C. (2013). Chapter 6: Principled leadership and the power of positive role-modeling and mentoring in Creating and sustaining civility in nursing education(pp. 79-94). Indianapolis, IN: Sigma Theta Tau International.
Friesen, M. A., Brady, J. M., Mulligan, R. & Christensen, P, (2017). Findings from a pilot study: bringing evidence-based practice to the bedside. Worldviews on Evidence-Based Nursing, 14 (1), 22-34. https://doi.org/10.1111/wvn.12195
Garbutt, S. (October 2014). Mentoring and networking in nursing: the career success connection. Paper presented at the University of New Mexico Mentoring Institute Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Gruber-Page, M. (2016). The value of mentoring in nursing: an honor and a gift. Oncology Nursing Forum, 43(4), 420-422. https://dio.org/10.1188/16.ONF.420-422
Jakubik, L. D., Elaides, A. B. & Weese, M. M. (2016). Leadership series: “how to” for mentoring. part 1: An overview of mentoring practices and mentoring benefits. Pediatric Nursing, 42(1), 37–38. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=ccm&AN=112911344&site=ehost-live
Jakubik, L. D., Weese. M. M., Elaides, A. B. & Huth. J. J. (2017). Leadership series: “how to” for mentoring. mentoring in the career continuum of a nurse: clarifying purpose and timing. Pediatric Nursing, 43(3), 149–152. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=ccm&AN=123430208&site=ehost-live
Mentorship. (n.d.) Miller-Keane Encyclopedia and dictionary of medicine, nursing, and allied health, (7th ed., 2003). Retrieved June 26 2019 from https://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/mentorship
McDonald, L. (2013). What would Florence Nightingale say? British Journal of Nursing. 22 (9). 542. Retrieved from http://nightingalesociety.com/published-articles/what-would-florence-nightingale-say/
National League for Nursing. (2019). Retrieved from http://www.nln.org/
Nightingale, F. (1860). Chapter 13 Observation of the sick in Notes on nursing. Retrieved from http://digital.library.upenn.edu/women/nightingale/nursing/nursing.html#XIII
Norman, H. A. (2011). The career compass: mentoring to point you toward maximum professional and personal growth. Tampa, FL: Gonzalez-Marin Publishing
Olaolorunpo, O. (2019). Mentoring in nursing: a concept analysis. International Journal of Caring Sciences, 12(1), 142–148. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=ccm&AN=136698179&site=ehost-live
Oncology Nurses Society. (2019). Retrieved from https://www.ons.org/
Posluszny, L. (2014). Shaping undergraduate professional identities through mentoring and promoting the future of nursing. AORN Journal,100(6),566–569. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.aorn.2014.09.008
Potter, D. R. & Tolson, D. (2014). A mentoring guide for nursing faculty in higher education. International Journal of Caring Sciences, 7(3), 727–732. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=ccm&AN=103900081&site=ehost-live
See one, do one, teach one. (n.d.) McGraw-Hill concise dictionary of modern medicine. (2002). Retrieved from https://medicaldictionary.thefreedictionary.com/see+one%2c+do+one%2c+teach+one
Sigma Theta Tau International. (2019). Retrieved from https://www.sigmanursing.org/