A mentor can be an objective adviser, a teacher, and a trusted friend to turn to when questions or problems arise. Nurse mentors often help their mentees learn their duties and grow in their positions. Mentoring arrangements often go beyond day-to-day guidance. It is not uncommon for mentors to help their mentees along as they make important career decisions. In fact, there is no end to the possibilities that can come after the mentor-mentee relationship has been established. Unique mentoring opportunities foster important relationships that can last as long as both parties would like.
Many nurses and nurse practitioners may find mentors to be invaluable coaches as they navigate their professional lives. Below are some strategies for finding the right mentor for you.
Talk to the Preceptors of Your Clinical Internships
Clinical internships or rotations are a key part of most nursing degree programs. These internships will not only provide you with the hands-on experience needed to succeed as a professional nurse, but they will also introduce you to the preceptors, or teachers leading the rotations.
According to Scrubs Magazine, these preceptors can make great mentors. You will likely meet many over the course of your education, each who may focus on a different specialty and be able to provide a different perspective. It is important to take time to build a professional relationship with each preceptor. Having these relationships with others who understand the unique challenges you may face throughout your career as a nurse is invaluable. Learning how they personally acclimated to life as a nurse and how they built a successful career could provide helpful tips to accomplish your nursing goals.
Image via Flickr by COD Newsroom
Observe Nurses at Work
Your clinical internships are not the only opportunities nurses have to spend time in health care facilities. Many facilities allow nursing students to observe nursing professionals on the job.
Lynda Lampert, RN, a writer for Mighty Nurse, says you can arrange this observation with a facility’s education or human resources department. Observing a nurse working in a field you’re interested in could allow you to receive more one-on-one time than your clinical rotations in the specialty of your interest. When you find someone with whom you have a natural rapport, you could ask this nurse to mentor you.
Find a Mentor Online
The Internet is a popular networking tool for a range of industries, including nursing, and it can also be a source for locating a mentor. Professional social networks, such as LinkedIn, have groups for nurses with members who may like to mentor you, but you might also consider nurse-specific online resources, such as NurseTogether.com and allnurses.com. A virtual professional contact who offers advice can become a mentor in the real world after your online relationship develops.
While online correspondence can be helpful for nurses, this form of communication is not the only option. Person-to-person interactions are a helpful alternative. In fact, Emerging RN Leader suggests that nurses also seek mentors living close to them. This allows for real world communication that complements and enhances online interactions. Many sites allow you to search for local members with whom you can connect face-to-face.
Participate in a Mentoring Program
Some health care facilities or universities may have their own mentoring programs which connect mentees with experienced mentors. Mentorship programs create positive working environments for new nurses, as they create a formal structure where senior nurses look to support new hires.
The Cardiac Intensive Care Unit at Boston’s Children’s Hospital successfully implemented a mentorship program after calling for senior nurses to volunteer to mentor more junior nurses. American Nurse Today said these nurses were given formal mentorship training, touching on topics including effective communication, professionalism in the workplace, and lateral violence. The new nurses selected the mentors they felt most comfortable with and all parties signed a contract detailing their objectives and goals for the mentoring period. One year after participating in the mentoring program, all concerned felt positively about the experience.
According to American Nurse Today, research suggests new nurses feel more confident within six months of participating in a mentorship program. These schemes also improve job satisfaction and retention rates.
Speak to Key Personnel
Mentoring programs may not be always highly publicized. If you’re struggling to find a mentor, your health care facility’s lead nurse, education department employees, or human resources staff may be able to help. These key individuals may have information on formal mentoring arrangements or could refer you to a nursing professional who could serve as your mentor.
Several methods are available to find a mentor, and you may need to take several approaches to find the right one. However, once you do, your mentor is likely to be an invaluable contact throughout your nursing career and life.