Mentorship in Nursing: Why Good Guidance Matters

Each blog post is dated and contains accurate information as of that date. Certain information may have changed since the blog post publication date. If you would like to confirm the current accuracy of blog information, please visit our ABSN overview page or contact admissions at (866) 483-8705.

Mentorship in nursing happens throughout your career as a nurse. Nurse mentors and nurse mentee roles change and evolve as you gain more confidence and experience in nursing. There are many benefits to nursing mentorship programs, affecting both nurses and healthcare facilities.

two nurses review a tablet and clipboard

Nursing is a team sport. Ask any seasoned nurse, and they will tell you how much they depend on their coworkers to provide excellent nursing care. They can also likely name several nursing mentors who positively influenced their careers. Finding one or more nurse mentors while in nursing school can give you a head start on your nursing career.

Nursing students in Averett University’s Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program have many opportunities to connect with passionate nurse mentors while on their way to exciting nursing careers.

You may still wonder what a nurse mentor is and how to set up a nursing mentorship. Continue reading to learn more about nursing mentorships and why they’re important.

What is the Difference Between a Nursing Mentor and Nursing Mentee?

A nursing mentor is a more experienced nurse who provides guidance and advice to a less experienced nurse, called a mentee. The nurse mentor and the mentee often work as a team for several weeks or months until the mentee is comfortable providing patient care independently.

What Does a Nurse Mentor Do?

A nurse mentor has many roles. First and foremost is to serve as a reliable and trustworthy resource for the mentee to learn from. Nurse mentors must also make sure their mentee knows how to provide safe patient care.

Nurse mentors can bring structure to the mentor-mentee relationship by setting SMART goals, which are commonly used in nursing. SMART goals are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Realistic
  • Timely

The nurse mentor will continually assess whether the mentee is achieving their goals and provide feedback and additional learning opportunities as needed.

Benefits of a Nursing Mentorship

Nurse mentoring forms the foundation of the nursing profession and enables the transfer of clinical knowledge and experience from one generation to the next. Mentorships are especially important to healthcare facilities with a prestigious Magnet designation, which is awarded to centers of nursing excellence.

Magnet healthcare facilities are required to have strong nursing mentorship programs to maintain their designation.

nurse and patient making heart hands

Nurses experience many career benefits while working in Magnet hospitals. Read more to learn why nurses should work in Magnet hospitals.

Let’s take a deeper look at how mentorship in nursing benefits everyone.

How the Mentee Benefits

Most importantly, nursing mentees receive significant benefits. Nurse-mentor relationships help new nurses find their footing as they acclimate to working in healthcare environments for the first time. Here are a few ways in which a nurse-mentor relationship benefits the mentee:

  • Builds confidence
  • Improves problem-solving skills
  • Establishes career stability
  • Unlocks career opportunities
  • Reduces feelings of being overwhelmed
Averett ABSN student working with sim manikin

How the Mentor Benefits

Nurse mentoring relationships may seem like a one-way street, but there are also many advantages to being a nurse mentor. Nurse mentors take on a large amount of responsibility, but mentor-mentee relationships can have a positive impact on their careers. Below are a few examples of the benefits of becoming a nurse mentor:

  • Increases job satisfaction
  • Opens up other professional growth opportunities, including leadership roles
  • Provides new ways of solving common nursing problems

How Patients and Organizations Benefit

Obviously, a nursing mentorship positively affects both the nurse mentor and the mentee, but healthcare organizations and patients also benefit from strong mentoring in nursing.

A Gallup study provided good evidence that poor staff engagement can lead to more malpractice claims. In contrast, higher staff satisfaction results in better patient outcomes and fewer medical errors. Hospitals that have strong nursing mentor programs retain 25% more nurses, which leads to higher staff satisfaction, better patient outcomes and lower costs of recruiting and training new hires.

A strong nursing mentorship program helps new nurses find their footing, rewards experienced nurses for sharing their time and skills and helps healthcare organizations recruit and retain top talent, creating a positive and healthy workplace for all.

Averett nursing student working with instructor

Choosing the Right Nursing Mentor

When seeking a nurse mentor, the American Nurses Association recommends that you consider some of the following desirable traits:

  • Effective communicator
  • Accessible and easy to reach
  • Has a good rapport with colleagues
  • Trustworthy and respectful
  • Regarded as a role model

Before choosing a nursing mentor, you should consider both formal and informal types of mentorship.

A formal mentorship in nursing often occurs as part of a clinical experience in nursing school or a new-hire program at a healthcare facility. In these programs, the hospital assigns a nurse mentor, sometimes called a nurse preceptor, to a newly hired nurse.

A nurse preceptor will guide you through your orientation to the hospital, review the unit policies and procedures and assist with skills check-offs. They are there to help you get comfortable in your new role and guide you during your transition to being an independent nurse.

Informal mentorship in nursing occurs more organically and can take many forms. You may find mentorship from colleagues on your unit who, even if not your assigned preceptor, may take on a mentorship role and offer you help when needed. You might also maintain nursing mentorship relationships with your nursing classmates or professors long after you’ve graduated from nursing school.

Averett ABSN student smiling and standing outside

Initiatives of online nursing networks and professional organizations, like the American Nurses Association Mentorship Program, can connect new nurses with more experienced nurses for online or phone support.

Becoming a Nurse Mentor

Once you have settled into your new career as a nurse, you may feel compelled to give something back to the next generation of nurses. When you want to start mentoring in nursing, there are a few things you should consider, such as your nurse mentor goals and level of comfort with explaining topics to new nurses.

You don’t have to be an expert nurse to be a good mentor, but strong communication skills will help you excel. Most nurse mentors have at least 5 years of experience as a nurse before beginning formal mentoring. You may find opportunities for informal nurse mentorship sooner.

Ready to start your nursing career? Read more to learn how to succeed in nursing school.

nursing students sitting at desk

Embracing Nurse Mentorship in the Future

Finding mentorship in nursing can prepare you for a long and successful career as a nurse. One day, you will look back on those nurse mentors who made a difference while you built the foundation of your nursing career, and you will look forward to becoming a nurse mentor to the next group of aspiring nurses.

You can begin your nursing career with Averett’s ABSN program. If you have a non-nursing bachelor’s degree or at least 60 non-nursing credits from an accredited university, you can earn your Bachelor of Science in Nursing in as few as 16 months.

Contact an admissions advisor today to discuss whether Averett’s ABSN is right for you and to determine your next steps.