Academic journal article Contemporary Nurse : a Journal for the Australian Nursing Profession

Walking Alongside: A Qualitative Study of the Experiences and Perceptions of Academic Nurse Mentors Supporting Early Career Nurse Academics

Academic journal article Contemporary Nurse : a Journal for the Australian Nursing Profession

Walking Alongside: A Qualitative Study of the Experiences and Perceptions of Academic Nurse Mentors Supporting Early Career Nurse Academics

Article excerpt

Introduction

"Mentoring" describes a professional association that aims to develop someone through their relationship with another person who is more experienced (McCloughen, O'Brien, & Jackson, 2009). The benefits of effective mentoring in the tertiary sector include greater recruitment and retention of junior faculty (Louie, Campbell, Donaghy, Rice, & Sabatini, 2011; Nick et al., 2012), prevention of burnout in senior staff, improved teaching and student learning (Gerolamo & Roemer, 2011; Shirey, 2006; Smith & Zsohar, 2007) and increased scholarly output (Louie et al., 2011). Good mentoring enhances both career success and job satisfaction (Chung & Kowalski, 2012; Gerolamo & Roemer, 2011). This is significant as these factors have both been found to influence decisions regarding whether to remain in employment (Tourangeau, Cummings, Cranley, Ferron, & Harvey, 2010). This resonates with previous research which found that academics with mentors have greater socio-emotional support, greater job satisfaction and had less intention of leaving the faculty in the immediate future (Wasserstein, Quistberg, & Shea, 2007). However, despite the reported benefits of mentorship for faculty, many nurse academics do not have an identified mentor (Chung & Kowalski, 2012; Gerolamo & Roemer, 2011; Singh, Pilkington, & Patrick, 2014).

Much of the available literature reports perceptions of mentees in terms of ideal mentor attributes, and the availability and effectiveness of mentoring. There is a distinct paucity of literature available that addresses mentoring from the mentors' perspective. This paper provides insights into nurse academic mentors experiences and perceptions of supporting early career nurse academics (ECNAs).

Literature review

There are multiple and varying definitions of mentoring in academia, although it is commonly defined as "a top-down, one to one relationship in which an experienced faculty member guides and supports the career development of a new or early career faculty member" (Sorcinelli & Yun, 2007, p. 58). This alludes to the mentoring relationship being unidirectional and altruistic, however, and this is contested by Canter, Kessler, Odar, Aylward, and Roberts (2012) who acknowledge there are multiple reciprocal personal and professional benefits to mentoring relationships. This reciprocal nature is supported by Haggard, Dougherty, Turban, and Wilbanks (2011) who identify the core attributes of mentoring as being "reciprocity, developmental benefits and regular/consistent interaction" over time (p. 292).

The lack of mentorship for new nurse faculty is evident in the literature. In their phenomenological study, Cangelosi (2014) found that although participants were constantly seeking mentorship to assist them in their role development, this support was not forthcoming. Further, research by Singh et al. (2014) found that despite an identified need for mentoring only 44% of academics were in a mentoring relationship, and 49% of participants conveyed they did not receive adequate support to succeed in their roles. Similarly, in an American study by Chung and Kowalski (2012), only 40% of the nursing faculty surveyed reported having a current mentoring relationship. Positive outcomes were evident for those who were mentored in terms of greater job satisfaction (Singh et al., 2014), psychological empowerment and less overall jobrelated stress (Chung & Kowalski, 2012).

Although mentoring relationships have been found to offer substantial benefits for new nurse faculty, not all mentoring relationships are perceived as beneficial. In some studies up to 25% of participants who were mentored reported low levels of satisfaction with this relationship (Singh et al., 2014). Unsuccessful mentoring can have adverse effects on both individuals and their organisations (Driscoll, Parkes, Tilley-Lubbs, Brill, & Pitts-Bannistera, 2009; Green & Jackson, 2014). …

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