Acting as a mentor, coach, preceptor and/or resource to students, nursing colleagues and other members of the health-care team is a minimum expectation of registered nursing practice. This month we review what it means to be a mentor, why mentorship is important and how you can demonstrate accountability to this expectation in your practice.
What is mentorship?
The purpose of mentorship is to assist people to develop professionally. Mentorship can be informal or formal. Informal mentorship occurs when you voluntarily contribute to the professional growth of others. As an informal mentor you may contribute to a mentee’s self- directed goals for professional growth through a number of actions including leading by example, teaching new skills, sharing knowledge and experiences, and providing advice.
In contrast, formal mentorship occurs within a structured mentorship program, framework or process. Within this structure, matching of the mentor and mentee is formalized; clear goals and objectives of the mentorship are outlined and both mentor and mentee are held accountable to work towards those goals and objectives. Formal mentorship programs often have an added benefit of linking professional goals to organizational outcomes creating a return on investment for the organization.
What are the benefits?
The benefits of mentorship are multi-faceted effecting the mentor, the mentee, employers, the public and the profession.
Benefits to the mentor can include a personal sense of satisfaction for giving to others, the profession and organization, enhancement of the mentor’s knowledge and skill, career advancement and/or acknowledgements for service.
Benefits to the mentee can include improved career transitions and increased job satisfaction.
Benefits to employers can include improved retention and engagement of staff.
Benefits to the public can include enhanced quality of care and reduced cost of service.
Benefits to the profession can include enhancement of the image of the profession and improved recruitment and retention of individuals to the profession.
You can demonstrate accountability to act as a mentor through many actions:
- asking others about their professional goals and supporting their development;
- being approachable and open to providing colleagues and students with skills, knowledge and advice;
- increasing your knowledge of effective mentorship skills and processes;
- taking action to support and develop formal mentorship programs.
Take the practice expectation challenge: Be a Mentor; Thank a Mentor
Be a Mentor
Reflect on your own experiences as a mentor. Identify opportunities to increase mentorship in your practice or practice setting. Take action and share the impact of your actions with others.
Thank a Mentor
Take a moment to think of a nursing educator, another Registered Nurse or colleague who has had an impact on your nursing practice and reach out to thank them. Use the CRNM Facebook page to post a thank you note to a mentor who has made a difference in your practice.
Interested in exploring mentorship further? Checking out the resources below for more information.
Goodyear, Caryl PhD, RN, NEA-BC, CCRN-K; Goodyear, Marilu PhD. “Supporting successful mentoring, Nursing Management” (Springhouse): April 2018 – Volume 49 – Issue 4 – p 49-53 doi: 10.1097/01.NUMA.0000531173.00718.06