How to start a nurse mentoring program

Are you thinking about beginning a nurse mentoring program?Throughout your nursing career, you will likely have many clinical instructors (also know as preceptors). Whenever you being a new job, take on a new specialty or a different role within the hospital, there will be someone to guide you through your new duties. However, having a mentor to inspire and motivate you throughout your career can be equally important.1 If the institution for which you work doesn’t yet have a mentoring program in place, take these steps to start one of your own:

1. Generate interest

While there will likely be support for a mentorship program, it’s best to generate interest before you hit the ground running. Talk to people during orientation about the way that the nursing unit functions, and whether or not there have been problems with turnover. If anyone seems to be struggling, ask about their job satisfaction and if they think having a mentoring program would make a difference. You can also chat with your colleagues to create buzz around the idea and see if they would be interested.2

2. Make the announcement

Now that you have the support of your co-workers, it’s time to make the announcement that you intend to begin a mentorship program within your unit. While mentoring can be formal or informal, it’s best if there is some organization to the process. Mentors act as advisors, friends and confidants, and although they are not responsible for their mentee’s day-to-day activities, they can offer helpful guidance.3 During your announcement, ask for volunteers that can help get the ball rolling – you may even want to form a committee.

3. Organize training

Now that you have a group of nurses interested in being mentors, it’s time to start the training process. Whether you hire an outside professional or do some research and conduct the training sessions yourself, make sure that the mentors have a full understanding of their responsibilities and how the system will work.4

1 Kansas City Metropolitan Healthcare Council, KC Health Careers, ‘Nurse Mentoring Toolkit,’ 2010 – http://kchealthcareers.com/mentoring-toolkit/nurse-mentoring-toolkit/
2 Holland, Brittany, Yahoo! Voices, ‘Nurse Mentors: Necessity or Luxury?’ May 16, 2013 – http://voices.yahoo.com/nurse-mentors-necessity-luxury-12121813.html?cat=5
3 Kansas City Metropolitan Healthcare Council, KC Health Careers, ‘Nurse Mentoring Toolkit,’ 2010 – http://kchealthcareers.com/mentoring-toolkit/nurse-mentoring-toolkit/
4 Holland, Brittany, Yahoo! Voices, ‘Nurse Mentors: Necessity or Luxury?’ May 16, 2013 – http://voices.yahoo.com/nurse-mentors-necessity-luxury-12121813.html?cat=5

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