According to a 2014 study in Policy, Politics, & Nursing Practice, nearly one in five nurses leave the field within their first year. A primary way to retain nurses is through professional development and specifically finding a nurse mentor.
We see examples of mentorship in popular culture from Sherlock Holmes’ relationship with Dr. Watson to Batman and Robin.
Mentorship’s relevance for nursing can’t go understated. Working as a nurse comes with a learning curve and provides a never-ending opportunity to grow and develop.
Moreover, mentorship can provide a nurse with an ability to move forward in their careers as well. When a mentor takes a mentee under their wing, they can elevate them to levels that the mentee couldn’t accomplish on their own.
Now, finding a mentor isn’t only applicable for first-year nurses. Nurses can engage in mentorship opportunities anytime.
What Does a Nurse Mentor Do Exactly?
A nurse mentor is a nurse within the field who has ample experience and is willing to impart their knowledge and time to help you achieve your aspirations. They can serve as a guide, encouragement, and champion in your defense to help you acclimate to the field.
These nurse mentors facilitate formal and informal support to help nurses in a multitude of capacities.
Some of these include:
- Guiding the mentee: Your mentor has a wealth of knowledge to dispense to you. One of the more difficult transitions for a new nurse involves understanding an organization’s practices and culture. A nurse mentor can help a mentee better understand the practices and succeed.
- Career Aims: When a new nurse starts with an organization, they exhaust a lot of energy trying to figure out the job. However, what often gets lost in the weeds is developing a vision for their specific career goals. A nurse mentor can help provide a roadmap for success within the field.
- Mental Health: Starting as a new nurse can be stressful. From the long hours to dealing with intense patient trauma, nurses can feel overwhelmed easily. Nurses can look to their mentors for emotional support to offset the potential for exhaustion, stress, and nursing burnout.
Altogether, nurse mentors act as great advocates to help ease the transition within a new company or the nursing field in general.
What to Look for in a Nurse Mentor
One of the more important elements of a mentor-mentee relationship is trust and respect. These two pillars should underly the dynamic. However, what about qualities that a mentor should possess?
We have outlined qualities that a nursing mentor should possess.
Compassionate Leader: An obvious attribute for nurse mentors to have is compassion. A compassionate leader understands and empathizes with a mentee’s needs to figure out ways to instruct with care and concern.
Organizational Skills: The dynamic of a nursing mentorship needs structure. You don’t want to work with someone who doesn’t have time for you. Alternatively, you don’t want someone who invests too much time and neglects their other duties. You want a structured leader who can work within a schedule to accommodate your and their needs.
Future-Oriented: A nursing mentorship should center on goals and steps to achieving those goals. A mentor needs to work with the mentee to develop a cohesive and structured plan for the future.
Approachable Yet Direct: You want to respect your nurse mentor. However, you don’t want to feel their personality is intimidating or off-putting in a way that doesn’t allow you to work with them effectively. Also, having a mentor that can provide direct feedback is crucial in helping you develop.
Encouraging: Nurse mentors provide a lot of feedback to their nurses. It is crucial for them to encourage even with their criticisms. That said, they also need a willingness to accept new ideas and see things from other perspectives.
How to Find a Nurse Mentor
Find a formal nurse mentoring program
Most healthcare facilities have a framework in place to connect experienced nurse mentors with mentees. Within these programs, the nurse mentor receives compensation, which provides more accountability within the role.
The new nurse will find a mentor that they want to work with, and both parties will sign a contract outlining the mentee’s goals.
Search for a nurse mentor online
A lot of nurses find mentors through social media. Whether it’s Facebook, LinkedIn, or Instagram, there are many ways for a nurse to connect with a mentor.
With Facebook specifically, nurses can connect to other nurses within Facebook Groups.
The only downside of looking to social media for a mentor is that there isn’t a contract outlining the relationship. Also, the mentor doesn’t receive compensation.
Watch nurses on the job
Another great way to find a nursing mentor is by observing another, a more experienced nurse on the job.
The human resources or education departments can help facilitate these interactions, so you can spend time directly engaging with a more seasoned nurse.
After developing a relationship with that nurse, you can ask if they want to become your mentor.
Our Last Words on Nurse Mentors
Overall, finding a great nursing mentor can go a long way in helping you advance within the field. Don’t let shyness or an aversion to asking for help deter you from finding a mentor. This could provide you with a great opportunity for continued career growth as a nurse.