Mentoring is a relationship in which a more experienced or more knowledgeable person helps a less experienced or less knowledgeable person. A mentor serves as a wise and trusted guide, advisor and counselor. (Wikipedia 2010)
What is mentoring in nursing?
Byrne and Keefe 2002 say “mentoring involves a voluntary alliance between an experienced senior professional and a less advanced one, for the dual purposes of career development and the enhancement of the profession.” They explain that the purpose of mentoring is to “develop expertise and leadership within the profession.”
In their “Coaching in Nursing Workbook” (available for free on the Sigma Theta Tau website) Donner and Wheeler define mentoring as a long term relationship in which someone with more experience and wisdom (mentor) supports and encourages another (mentee/protégé) as that individual grows and develops professionally and personally.
Seven benefits of mentoring
Jargoura, a member of the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario, suggests mentoring:
1. Bridges the gap between theory and nursing practice
2. Provides guidance for leadership
3. Enhances critical thinking and career development
4. Increases risk taking, self-esteem, and job enrichment
5. Improves quality of patient care
6. Enhances productivity, managerial skills and a sense of professionalism
7. Helps recruit and retain nurses
Five situations when might you need a mentor
Donner and Wheeler say nurses might want mentoring in these situations:
1. At the very beginning of your career when you need help navigating the work environment, clarifying your priorities and learning how to adapt to new situations.
2. Mid-career as you look for work-life balance and need help deciding whether to take on new responsibilities and/or shed old ones.
3. Later in your career if you want to reduce your workload or are contemplating retirement.
4. At any time in your nursing career when you are experiencing work stress, are uncertain of your next steps in your career or have career questions you want to explore.
5. If you are a nurse leader who wants support in developing and achieving your professional goals.