Mentorship in Nursing: How to Find or Become a Nursing Mentor

Mentorship In Nursing

The benefits of mentoring in nursing can positively impact the mentor, mentee, and nursing industry as a whole. It’s no secret that nursing is a rewarding yet challenging profession; it has its own unique set of obstacles. Having a mentor to help new nurses navigate these experiences helps eliminate some of the uncertainty and build confidence.

However, one of the barriers to mentoring in nursing is learning how to find a nurse mentor — or how to become one. In this blog post, you’ll gain insight into how mentorship in nursing works, its purpose, and how to navigate finding or becoming a mentor.

Why Is Mentoring in Nursing Important?

Without the right support, new nurses may face difficulties in their role like stress, burnout, and job dissatisfaction. Ultimately, effective mentoring in nursing leads to better employee retention, improved engagement, increased academic success, and positive outcomes for patients. The communication and learning that occurs in mentoring programs may also lead to improved training and better processes.

5 Benefits of Mentoring in Nursing for the Mentees

When nurses and nursing students are able to connect with mentors, they may experience these five benefits.

  1. Increased confidence in nursing skills.
  2. Better resilience and ability to navigate stressful situations.
  3. Career guidance.
  4. Improved professional communication skills.
  5. Motivation to gain important skills to provide advanced care and support.
Benefits of Mentoring in Nursing for the Mentors

Mentors also benefit from participating in these programs. They develop leadership skills and make deeper connections with incoming nurses. Because nurse mentors are often in a position to influence policy, they can communicate with upper management about the struggles new nurses face and give suggestions for improvement.

Nurse mentors who are in leadership positions are also better able to identify and nurture nurses who have high potential. Additionally, mentors can take advantage of opportunities to help struggling nurses improve through positive role modeling and reinforcement of more productive behaviors.

What Does a Nurse Mentor Do?

A nurse mentor is someone who is an experienced practitioner. As a mentor, they provide guidance, advice, and support to nurses with less experience. They provide guidance to help less experienced nurses advance their careers.

A mentor’s role may be formal or informal — in an official nurse mentorship program or just simply acting as a mentor, for example. Where organization-run programs don’t exist, it’s still common for experienced nurses to act as mentors to others.

Here are some of the things a nurse mentor might do:

  • Meet regularly with the mentee.
  • Provide answers to clinical and career-related questions.
  • Help mentees connect with people to develop their professional networks.
  • Offer career insights.
  • Assist mentees with finding resources and training.
  • Give emotional and mental support.
  • Help with goal setting.
  • Review and give insight into resumes and other documents.
  • Provide coaching and advice.

In order to have effective mentoring in nursing, mentors should avoid:

  • Sharing information about their mentee with others. 
  • Taking too much control — mentees should still be able to make their own decisions.
  • Providing any advice or guidance that is self-serving.
  • Criticizing or judging the mentee.
  • Offering unsolicited advice.
  • Failing to listen effectively to the mentee’s goals, concerns, and plans.

How to Find a Nurse Mentor

First, see if your nursing program or employer has created a mentoring program. If yes, ask for information. You’ll want to know the requirements for taking part, how mentors and mentees are matched, and what activities are involved. Some mentorship programs focus solely on individual relationships, while others involve group activities and development programs.

If there is no formal mentorship program available, mentors and mentees can still establish a relationship. Sometimes, mentorship in nursing looks like giving advice, lending a helping hand, or just checking in with a new nurse to see how they’re adjusting.

4 Steps to Find a Nurse Mentor

  1. Write down what you want to get out of your relationship with your mentor
  2. Create a potential list of mentors along with the characteristics that stand out to you
  3. Request a meeting with your potential mentor to discuss what you are looking for
  4. Work with your mentor to create a plan for working together.

Consider working with a mentor who is involved in your specialty. For example, if you are in companion care nursing, another nurse in that niche will understand the challenges you face. 

Should You Give Nursing Mentor Gifts?

Mentees should never feel pressured to buy their current or potential mentor a gift. In fact, some formal programs may even ban the practice specifically to prevent potential ethics violations or favoritism. 

If you do wish to give your nursing mentor a gift, remember it’s the thought that counts. If you’re celebrating a special occasion like National Nurses Week, consider getting your mentor a card with a thoughtful note. 

How to Become a Nurse Mentor

If you are an experienced nurse who is interested in helping other nurses build successful careers, you could be an ideal nurse mentor. This is a rewarding way to give back to your profession.

If you believe this path is for you, these tips can help you learn how to become a nurse mentor:

  • Establish yourself as an approachable and non-judgmental resource for others
  • Inquire about formal mentorship programs at work 
  • List the attributes you have that will help you be an effective mentor
  • Communicate to others that you are interested in becoming a nurse mentor

Your first few times mentoring other nurses will be challenging. Don’t hesitate to reach out to your own network for advice on effective mentoring in nursing.

Barriers to Mentoring in Nursing

Unfortunately, there are barriers to mentoring in nursing that can lead to less-than-ideal outcomes. Here are just a few of the potential roadblocks that mentors and mentees should be aware of:

  • Career changes or relocation
  • Cultural differences
  • Personality clashes
  • Language barriers
  • Inability to meet regularly
  • Mismatched expectations

With open communication, it is possible to overcome some of these barriers. In fact, your differences may be what makes your relationship mutually beneficial — we often learn and grow as a result of working with different kinds of people. However, if one or both parties are unable to respectfully continue the mentorship, ending the mentorship may be necessary.

Nursing Careers for Experienced and Emerging Nurses

Are you a new or experienced nurse looking for a rewarding career as an in-home nurse? Advanced Nursing + Home Support is always looking for caring team members at every experience level. Our nurses enjoy working in a supportive environment with people who care about their career success.

Contact us online or by phone at 240-474-0884 to request more information!