Ask the expert: What is the best way to initiate a mentor program?

Staff Development Weekly: Insight on Evidence-Based Practice in Education, December 18, 2009

This week, Adrianne E. Avillion, DEd, RN, discusses how to begin planning a new mentor program.

Q: I would like to start a new mentorship program. How can I demonstrate that there is a need for this kind of program at my hospital and how to I know which departments it would be best for?

A: Start, as always, armed with analysis data. Remember, you are an evidence-based practitioner. You need to be able to demonstrate how a mentor program will enhance job satisfaction, improve job performance, and decrease turnover. If this is a new initiative, you will need to present research findings from the literature as well as statistics concerning you organization: its turnover rate, the cost of orientation, and the job performance and job satisfaction of new nurses.

Mentors must be chosen carefully. They must not only want to fulfill the role but must be qualified to do so. It is probably not practical to initiate the mentor program throughout all nursing units. Instead, identify a unit that has nurses who are both willing and qualified to become mentors—and that does not have to be the unit with the lowest turnover rate. You want to be able to demonstrate success, and that would be difficult on a unit with almost no turnover. Choose units that need to decrease turnover and improve both job performance and job satisfaction.

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