Nurse Mentor: How to Find a Good Mentor
By Allan Robinson
Are you looking for a nurse mentor to help you navigate through the ups and downs of your nursing career?
A nurse mentor may be anyone who can help you hone your nursing skills and develop your career, including a nurse educator, advisor or trusted friend.
Nurse mentors often provide more than daily guidance in nursing and can help you make important career decisions. The following strategies are the most common means of finding a good mentor:
- Participation in a formal mentoring program
- Talking to teachers
- Finding a mentor online
- Observing nurses at work
- Speaking to key personnel
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5 Ways to Find a Nurse Mentor
1. Participate in a formal nurse mentoring program
Healthcare facilities may have an official nurse mentorship program that connects experienced nurse mentors with mentees. These programs provide a formal structure for senior nurses to create a positive working environment for new hires.
A 2017 study published in American Nurse Today shows that a nurse mentoring program can help new nurses feel more confident in their professional abilities within six months.
For example, Boston Children’s Hospital has implemented a nurse mentoring program in which senior nurses volunteer to mentor junior nurses.
The new nurses select a mentor they’re comfortable with, and both parties sign a contract indicating their goals for the mentorship program.
The major topics covered in the program include workplace professionalism, effective communication and lateral violence, so it’s not just professionals helping each other with basic nursing skills.
2. Talk to teachers involved in clinical internships
Nursing degree programs include clinical internships that provide students with practical experience.
They also offer an opportunity for nursing students to introduce themselves to the teachers within the internships, who can serve as effective nurse mentors — especially if nurses are looking to build a career in a specialty.
“I met my mentor during an internship,” says Adam Daymude, who has worked as a registered nurse for more than 12 years. “We still keep in touch, and I still ask her for advice.”
3. Find a nurse mentor online
Many people use the internet as a networking tool for professional and personal purposes.
Social networking sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook have groups dedicated to nursing, and professional organizations such as the American Nurses Association offer membership networking benefits.
4. Observe nurses at work
Many healthcare facilities offer nursing students opportunities to observe nurses on the job.
The facility’s human resources or education department typically arranges these observations, which lets you spend more time directly interacting with senior nurses than in a clinical rotation.
Once you establish a natural rapport with a nurse, you can ask that person to become a nurse mentor.
Even if you don’t cement a formal mentor/mentee relationship, Daymude says observing seasoned pros is never a bad idea. “Some of the best tips I’ve ever learned came from a more experienced nurse during a shift. You just have to look for those opportunities.”
5. Speak to key personnel
New nurses may struggle to find a mentor on their own if the healthcare facility or university doesn’t offer a formal mentoring program.
If you’re not sure how to find a nurse mentor, ask other staff members, nurse managers or the human resources department.
These key personnel often have information on unofficial nurse mentoring programs that aren’t well publicized.