A mentor is one who can share advice and guide you in advancing in your profession through their knowledge and prior experiences. As a new nurse, finding a mentor will help you as you progress from a novice nurse to eventually an expert. While some hospitals have formal programs that pair a new hire with a mentor during the on boarding process, other programs do not or perhaps the initial pairing was not ideal. In these situations, you may need to find a mentor yourself.
Identify Your Goals
When you are seeking out a mentor, you should consider what you hope to learn and accomplish in the future. Think about your immediate, 5-year and 10-year goals. You will want to select a nurse who has expertise in the area you are most interested in. Are you interested in clinical practice, research, management or leadership opportunities? If you are not sure now, a good mentor will be able to support you through this process over time. As a clinical nurse specialist, I have assisted many nurses in making decisions regarding where they best fit into the nursing field. Once I am able to identify the nurse’s strengths and weaknesses and really learn what they enjoy, I can help them find an area where they can be happy and successful.
Open Communication with Your Nursing Mentor
You must feel comfortable communicating with your mentor. You should be able to be completely honest and share any concerns or questions with your mentor. The mentor should be open and willing to discuss your issues and concerns, as well as stimulate conversations that will enhance your knowledge and abilities. Sometimes, when a mentor is assigned without first getting to know the new nurse, this process seems strained and neither participant has a positive experience.
Availability of Your Nursing Mentor
While choosing a famous leader to be your mentor would be exciting, one must consider whether the mentor will be readily available to assist you. Usually choosing a colleague or professor who you can see on a frequent basis is beneficial. Face to face interactions are very beneficial, especially in the current technologically-advancing era. If you do decide to have a mentor who is not local, discuss how you will communicate, the frequency, and how to best handle situations which arise that require immediate or additional guidance.
Reach Out and Ask
If you have identified a nurse that you feel would be a great mentor for you, ask them. Don’t be shy, you are probably going to make that nurses day. He or she will be honored that you think so highly of them. If they seem hesitant, try and be specific about what your needs might be and the time commitment required. Perhaps they will agree to a trial period if this is the first time they have mentored another nurse. Hopefully it will be a positive experience for both of you.
Follow Through with Your Nursing Mentor
Often times, a mentor will ask you to think about a situation, perhaps read an article or research a topic. Be sure to follow through and demonstrate that you are determined to succeed and advance in your nursing specialty. A strong nursing mentor can positively impact your career and provide you with countless opportunities to impact the future of the nursing field.