Mentoring Strengthens Nursing

Since the days of Florence Nightingale, nurses have continuously mentored new nursing graduates from all educational degree levels. Presently, as nurses continue to achieve higher levels of education, conduct research, serve as leaders and administrators and practice in various health care settings, we have to recognize that the act of mentoring is the vital link to the success and continuation of our profession. In the near future, there will be new graduate registered nurses seeking employment and as experienced professional nurses, we need to share our wealth of knowledge and expertise in mentoring our new graduates.

The term mentor can be identified as any individual who educates, guides, assists, supports and advises another individual (mentee). The mentor is one whom is more experienced and knowledgeable than the other person regarding a skill, procedure or practice that is being learned or mastered. The process of mentoring is a developing relationship that is collaborative and continuous between two persons. There are several professional roles a mentor acquires. Mentors can accept the role of educator, leader, socializer, communicator and role model. 1

Boosting the Workforce
A report by the Institute of Medicine (IOM), found that mentoring is the good way to strengthen the nursing workforce and, in turn, improve the quality of care and patient outcomes. Nurses have unique insights to share in debates and discussions about health care reform. Also, according to the IOM report, mentoring assists nurses to develop into the kind of leaders who can play a larger part in the development, design and delivery of health care, which will ultimately strengthen the nation’s largest health care group and health care system.

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Another important strategy the report discusses is that mentoring has the capabilities to narrow health disparities within the profession. Nursing is a predominately white, female profession. In the process of reaching out to minority groups and the male population, mentoring has the ability to encourage other groups to consider studying nursing and entering the field. 1

Constructive Feedback in Academia
When mentoring is performed properly it can promote excellence in academia and assist in scholarly writing of professional articles, lesson plans and grants by adding to the body of knowledge for the profession.2 It can support in identifying and utilizing numerous resources effectively and efficiently. Proper mentoring should also consist of immediate feedback. Feedback should be from both mentor and mentee. It should involve verbal as well as active listening. Providing feedback is a vital aspect of supporting a student or new nurse in practice.Feedback must be immediate and constructive in context.

In mentoring, verbal communication is critical and a mentor must be available to communicate effectively over a specific length of time. The mentor must listen attentively to the mentee. Through these activities, future nurse leaders, educators, researchers and advanced practitioners are developed. It promotes an arena of collegiality and positive attitude. Experienced nurses who expand their role to mentor assist in retaining nurses. This has a strong financial component to administrators and human resources personnel.

Investing your time and exploring the vital role of mentoring a novice new nurse is a valuable experience. The entire nursing profession benefits from mentoring. Our good mentored and educated nurses of today will be the good mentors and educated nurses in the future.

Carlene McAleer is associate professor of nursing at Temple University in Philadelphia.

References

1. Institute of Medicine (2010). The future of nursing: Leading change, advancing health. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.Available at http://www.iom.edu/reports/2010/The-Future-of-Nursing-Leading_Change-Advancing-Health.aspx

2. Hall, K. (2014). Mentoring: Setting a Dynamic for Success. Kentucky Nurse, 62(2), 1.

3. Walsh, D. (2010). The Nurse Mentor’s Handbook: Supporting Students in Clinical Practice. Open University Press.

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