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10 essential tips for the nurse mentor

As a mentor, you make a promise to help guide a nurse, often a newer nurse, through the early stages of his or her career.

But what does that really mean? Where’s the tool box for teaching the finer points of nursing, the concepts that can take a nurse from great to truly exceptional?

How do we go beyond the usual, “How are things going?”

With these tips, you can take your mentoring to a whole new level. Your mentee isn’t the only one who will benefit. Many of these ideas are just as important for the experienced nurse to devote time and thought to.

Mentoring is a journey for both of you. Make the most of your trip.

10 Essential Tips for the Nurse Mentor

1.  Talk about self-worth

Especially as a new nurse, feedback is par for the course. But taking heed without taking criticism to heart can make the difference between throwing in the towel or lifting up your chin and plowing forward.

2.  Teach healthy detachment

Learning how to separate the self from negative or toxic emotions and behaviors comes all too late for many of us. Introduce the concept of healthy detachment to your mentee so that they can let go of the things that have nothing to do with them.

3.  Encourage self-care

So many nurses discover too late that not taking care of yourself leads to burnout and makes you a less effective caregiver. Start a self-care pact: share some self-care ideas and report back with some of the ways you have each found to cope with excess stress.

4.  Prepare for handling patients who’ve received bad news

Beyond managing a patient assignment competently, beyond nursing intervention, is a subject that is very difficult to teach, but bears discussion anyway. The newer nurse may begin to have confidence in certain areas of patient care, but have no idea how to handle a conversation after a patient has received bad news. Give your mentee the tools to start.

5.  Steer them away from perfectionism

Striving to be your best is a great character asset for a nurse. Setting standards that are unattainable can get in the way of career fulfillment. Talk about the difference and about the importance of avoiding perfectionism.

6.  Encourage boundary setting

Boundary setting is an essential, but often overlooked personal skill that can contribute to overall emotional well-being. Nurses in particular, who tend to do for others before themselves, can suffer tremendously without solid personal boundaries in place. Help your mentee determine their own boundary lines.

7.  Help hone time management skills

Time management typically improves greatly as a nurse heads into the competent phase and beyond. But it can never hurt to discuss a few time saving tips (and even review them yourself).

8.  Teach negotiation

Negotiation skills come in handy in all corners of healthcare, whether dealing with a physician who wants things done a certain way or a five-year-old patient who has no intention of letting a thermometer anywhere near her.

9.  Teach conflict resolution

Everywhere you turn in healthcare, there is the potential for conflict. When working alongside large numbers of people in multiple disciplines with varying goals, conflict is bound to arise. Help your mentee anticipate conflict as it arises and work through some effective ways of dealing with it.

10.  Recommend some good reads

You can’t possibly teach everything. But you can steer your mentee into the right direction. From learning how to protect their license to getting more comfortable with death and dying, these five books are a helpful adjunct to all of the wisdom and knowledge you’ve been imparting.

Your Turn!

Do you consider yourself a nurse mentor? What do you think are the most important tools to give the nurse you’re mentoring?


By | 2020-04-06T11:17:10-04:00 July 10th, 2014|Categories: Archived|5 Comments

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