Magazine article American Nurse Today

Mentoring 101: What You Need to Know about Nurturing New Nurses

Magazine article American Nurse Today

Mentoring 101: What You Need to Know about Nurturing New Nurses

Article excerpt

"I will be your mentor." I was fortunate to hear these five words early in my career. As nursing becomes more complex, patients more critical, and students more challenging to teach, mentoring becomes more essential for clinicians and educators.

Here are answers to common questions about mentoring and how it works.

What is mentoring?

According to the Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses, mentoring is a reciprocal and collaborative learning relationship between two, sometimes more, individuals with mutual goals and shared accountability for the outcomes and success of the relationship.

Why do we need mentors?

The shortage of nurses in both academia and the clinical setting, the hectic practice environment, and statistics on the numbers of new graduate nurses who leave their first nursing position within the first year all demonstrate the need for mentors. In addition, the 2010 Future of Nursing report from the Institute of Medicine noted that mentoring is a good way to strengthen the nursing workforce and, in turn, improve the quality of care and patient outcomes.

What are the benefits of mentoring?

Mentoring has many benefits. The mentor helps the less-experienced nurse mature and grow in the field; the mentor benefits from the satisfaction of helping a younger colleague. In the mentoring relationship you will be giving back to the profession and learn from the fresh perspective of your mentee.

Mentoring helps nurses 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 healthcare system. Mentoring also helps healthcare organizations and academic institutions retain nurses and nurse educators, which can curb a shortage of nurses and nurse faculty. Nurses should emulate Florence Nightingale, who acted as a mentor; new nurses are a direct reflection of seasoned nurses who taught and mentored them.

How do we mentor?

Many organizations have formal mentoring programs; however, mentoring can be informal too. Most new nurses are assigned a preceptor in their first position, and although preceptors have a somewhat distinct role, a preceptor can evolve into a mentor.

Whether a preceptor or a mentor, experienced nurses need to nurture the beginning nurse. When new nurses graduate and pass their state licensing exam, they are considered safe, competent practitioners. …

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