What's The Value Of Mentorship?
Having a mentor has the power to influence a nurse’s career right from the beginning. Depending on what a nursing student wants to get out of the relationship, a mentor can help the student academically, offer emotional support and guidance, and help the student grow and mature. Even during school, student mentorship has the power to create opportunities like:
- Introducing the student to wider networks
- Allowing the student to get involved with a project or research study
- Exposing the student to new experiences and learnings
- Offering the ability to present at or attend a conference
Types of Mentoring
According to Dr. DeWitty, there are 3 different types of mentorship. The first is the traditional one-to-one mentor and mentee relationship many people are familiar with. If you choose to pursue this type of mentorship, remember to set expectations. Discuss goals with your mentor and have an idea of what you’d like to get out of the relationship from start to finish. Establish a frequency of meeting. Get everything out on the table at your first meeting.
The second type of mentorship is one mentor to a group of mentees, which often occurs when there aren’t enough mentors to go around. Similar to the one-to-one mentorship, expectations should be established right away. How often will you meet? Does your group share common needs, so the mentor can meet with all of you at once? Or does the mentor have enough time to meet one-on-one with everyone in the group?
The third type is peer mentoring — when a fellow student helps to mentor another. Students can sometimes learn more easily and connect better with peers. They are sometimes less intimidated because these individuals are “at their level.” But in order for this mentorship to work, the mentor still needs to be able to facilitate conversation and provide additional knowledge and support. The ideal scenario is a higher seniority student mentoring a lower seniority one.
How Do You Find a Mentor?
It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been in (or out) of nursing school. There is never a bad time to find a mentor. The key is to look for someone you respect and admire.
“Once you’ve developed that respect at a distance, ask them to go for a cup of coffee, or pull them aside somehow,” said Dr. DeWitty. “Ask them if they would be willing to serve as your mentor, and tell them your goals for the relationship upfront.”
And with peer mentoring, you don’t have to wait to graduate from nursing school to become a mentor to someone else.
“One of the surefire ways to see if you know something is to try to teach it to someone else,” said Dr. DeWitty. “When you’re learning to guide someone else, you are growing. So, whenever the situation exists, no matter how early or late, mentorship is a great opportunity.”
A Two-Way Street
No matter if you decide to find a mentor or become a mentor, you’ll reap the rewards. On the surface, it may seem that mentors give more than they receive, but that’s hardly the case. Mentors gain:
- Growth opportunity
- Expanded leadership skills
- Communication skills through working with others
- Gratitude and appreciation from their mentee
“When you give back, that sense of helping and contributing, that does a lot for one’s own self,” said Dr. DeWitty.
There’s no doubt that having an advocate or being an advocate brings opportunity. The positive impact it has on a nurse’s career is clear.
Advocate. That’s the true definition of a student mentor. Your mentor advocates for you, and you can trust that you always have someone in your corner.
It’s an opportunity many nursing students hope and strive for, but it doesn’t always fall into place naturally. It takes patience, effort, and the right match. When it’s done right, it’s powerful. So, are you ready to find someone to stand in your corner? Share your thoughts on student mentorship in the discussion or on our Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Tag a nurse and us #HealthyNurse.
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