Nurse Mentorships and How They Can Benefit You

Whether you’re a new nurse, a nurse transitioning to a specialty area, or a knowledgeable nurse seeking to share your wisdom, nurse mentorships are invaluable for both mentors and mentees.

When thinking about nurse mentorships, many may consider this term synonymous with preceptorship. While preceptorships share similarities with nurse mentorships, they’re vastly different.

Precepting is a method used to orient nurses into the work environment through teaching and clinical evaluation. These relationships are also for a limited time and during specific work hours.

Mentorships, on the other hand, are a collaborative effort intended to support nurses’ professional and personal development.

Nurse mentorships can also be formal or informal depending on the setting or relationship. Formal mentorships through a healthcare facility or other organization may match participants based on certain criteria, such as specialty area or license type, and include set objectives and guidelines (e.g., requirements for frequency of meetings or an outline of goals).

Informal mentorships can occur when a nurse approaches a senior colleague, leader, or friend to enter this partnership. Mentors and mentees can collaborate at any point without a formal program.

Becoming a Nurse Mentor

Trish Richardson, RN

Before becoming a nurse mentor, you can first assess if a mentorship is the right choice for you by asking yourself questions such as:

  • What do I hope to gain from a mentorship?
  • Do I have time in my schedule to commit to another person?
  • Am I empathetic with my colleagues?
  • Do others consider me a good leader?
  • Can I be transparent and open-minded?

As a mentor, you have to embody certain qualities and jump into different roles such as educator, supporter, and friend.

“Experience, enthusiasm, and a willing spirit are essential qualities of successful mentors,” said Trish Richardson, MSN, BSBA, RN, NE-BC, CMSRN, Director of Post-Acute Care Solutions at Relias and President-Elect of the North Carolina Nurses Association (NCNA).

In addition, she suggested that leadership experience, effective communication and listening skills, and a pay-it-forward mentality can play an important part in making the collaboration effective.

Nurse mentors also carry many responsibilities, including providing clinical education, offering career guidance, and supporting mentees through challenging situations. All functions of a nurse mentor are significant; however, Richardson added, in her experience, the most critical responsibility is role modeling professionalism and leadership.

Chris Recinos, RN

Mentors can shape and impact future nurse leaders, making this element even more pertinent.

At the start, you should set the goals both you and your mentee want to achieve and commit to a regular cadence of meetings or contact. By identifying these objectives, you may find that you share similar insights, or you have aspirations that align.

Your mentor targets could be coaching an early career nurse, nurturing leadership skills in new nurse leaders, or giving back to the profession. It’s important for you as well to be able to learn and grow from this experience.

Chris Recinos, PhD, RN, FNP, NEA-BC, a nurse mentor based in Los Angeles, California, …read more

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