Nurses: What Can a Mentor Do for You?

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Mentorship in NursingWhether you’re a seasoned nurse or new to the field, finding a mentor is a great idea. Why? Mentors can provide career boosts and knowledge that you wouldn’t otherwise have access to. They can help you through rough patches, too.

Mentorship is more important in nursing today than ever before. It’s been shown that mentorships can help nurses feel a greater sense of meaning in their work. And, since there aren’t as many nurses joining the profession as needed, mentoring can help ensure that those who do thrive and grow, rather than flee. Mentoring can have a big impact on retention, by helping new nurses stick out the tough first years.

Role of a mentor in nursing

Each mentoring relationship is different, and there are a wide variety of associated benefits.

  • Mentors can provide new perspectives on challenges you’re facing, and can provide confidential, unbiased feedback to help you grow.
  • They can act as a safe sounding board for problems.
  • They can help you identify your professional goals, and give you related networking opportunities.
  • For newer nurses, they can help build much-needed confidence.
  • And for nurses at any stage, a mentor can help you see past the short term to your overall trajectory.

Mentorships can happen in an official or unofficial capacity, too — your facility may even already have a mentorship program underway.

What makes a good mentor in nursing?

To find a mentor, you’ll want to first consider what you want out of the experience. This may differ drastically depending on where you are, careerwise. Perhaps some guidance would help make your first years of practice smoother. Or, if you’re more experienced, you may be searching for new career paths. Or, maybe you’re in need of help working through some specific challenges.

To find a good match, think about what qualities are most important. You’ll want someone who’s more experienced than you, and it’s important that they have expertise in the areas you’re interested in. And, it’s extremely important that you find a mentor with whom you can have an open and honest rapport. Also consider how available you’ll need your mentor to be — are you looking for weekly check-ins, or quarterly meetings? You’ll also want to take into account geography, and where you and your mentor are located. This is especially important if travel nursing is a part of your career.

Once you’ve found someone who seems like a good fit, make sure you’re a good mentee.

Finding a mentor

Make a list of potential candidates, and start reaching out. The best way is to reach out personally, either by email or in person, and ask if you can take the potential mentor out for coffee or a meal. Then, ask questions — be very open about what you’re hoping to learn, and why you’d like to connect with them.

Once you’ve found someone who seems like a good fit, make sure you’re a good mentee. This means respecting their time, and their advice. Follow up with them regularly, and follow through on the commitments you’re making along the way to improve. This ensures you’ll get the most out of the relationship.

Finally, don’t be afraid to find a new mentor if yours isn’t working. Not all mentorships are meant to be, and you may need to do a trial run or two before you find one that’s right for you. And remember that a successful mentorship won’t last forever — part of the relationship is knowing that at some point, your professional needs won’t fit with your mentor anymore, and your relationship will likely change to that of colleague or informal contact.

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