Mentorship in the nursing profession occurs both formally and informally, and your career as a nurse can be significantly impacted by engaging with a skilled mentor.
The power of mentoring
The word “mentor” has Greek roots, dating back to Homer. A mentor is a wise and trusted adviser, and mentorship occurs in many professional and non-professional contexts.
Formal mentoring relationships may be created to support the development of any individual or group. In nursing, an institution may create a mentoring program to facilitate the onboarding, learning and enculturation of new employees.
Nurse mentors can have an enormous impact on their mentees. For those nurses lucky enough to encounter a skilled mentor, the results can be powerful indeed.
A mentor can impart knowledge, teach skills, offer expert guidance, and be a collegial and objective sounding board for the mentee. The mentoring relationship may be brief and time-limited, or it may take place over months or years.
What can a nurse mentor do?
In the context of your nursing career, you may have encountered an individual you cannot help but respect and admire. This person may mentor you without knowing it, simply because you observe them closely, learn from their words or actions and emulate them.
Your workplace may indeed already have a formal mentoring program that pairs novice nurses with mentors in order to facilitate learning, professional growth and the acquisition of skills.
A nurse mentor may teach hard clinical skills. He or she also may offer guidance regarding your professional development and career trajectory. As you enter a new nursing specialty or explore a novel area of practice, a mentor can grease the wheels, introduce you to salient resources or otherwise coach you along your chosen path.
Formal and informal nurse mentors have the capacity to influence your career in extraordinary ways.
Finding a mentor
You may already have identified colleagues who mentor you without knowing they’re doing so. Meanwhile, your workplace may offer mentoring as an option for employees interested in engaging in such a relationship. Mentoring also occurs naturally between trusted colleagues.
There is an evidence base for mentoring in nursing. The Nurse Mentoring Institute is a forward-thinking organization that teaches healthcare organizations and individual nurses how to utilize scientifically proven techniques for effective nurse mentoring.
Mentoring is a science and an art, and while some informal mentors may intuitively provide stellar mentoring, there is even greater potential for mentors who receive training in evidence-based skills that are grounded in science.
Mentor and be mentored
Whether you find an informal nursing mentor, serve as a mentor yourself or launch a mentoring program within your workplace, mentoring is a powerful method for moving the nursing profession forward by supporting individuals and strengthening the nursing collective.
Consider how mentoring can positively impact your nursing career and the careers of other nurses around the globe.