Ask the expert: Mentors for nurse orientation programs

Nurse Leader Insider, June 4, 2012

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This week, Adrianne E. Avillion, D.Ed, RN, and Debbie Buchwach, BSN, RN-BC, define the role of mentors in the nursing profession and explain how mentors assist their mentees.

Q: What role do mentors have in my organization's nurse orientation program?

A: Mentors are leaders within the nursing profession, able to guide others in compassionate and respectful ways while sharing relevant views and experiences. For example, they may discuss the organization's political climate, support strategizing decisions for successful outcomes, and/or establish support for various organizational positions.

Mentors help and inspire mentees, embracing their presence and wondrous possibilities. As role models, mentors support and encourage mentees. They help shape critical-thinking and decision-making skills by sharing their experiences. They write letters of support, provide invaluable counsel, and introduce the mentee to a wider network of professionals, frequently recommending them for projects, committees, advancements, and honors. Mentors also:

  • Role-model and facilitate evolving professional knowledge, skills, attitudes, and accurate clinical judgments
  • Help them build their professional portfolios
  • Give and accept constructive criticism and feedback on strengths and weaknesses with suggestions for improvement
  • Manage time, organize commitments and responsibilities, prioritize projects, and delegate appropriately
  • Teach how to handle new responsibilities and take acceptable risks
  • Balance personal and professional commitments
  • Encourage and facilitate stress management
  • Direct coaching and precepting at change points and learning opportunities
  • Listen and communicate with empathy, insight, experience, compassion, and wisdom
  • Provide professional and career counseling and information
  • Follow through on all commitments

By acting as a source of intellectual stimulation and encouragement, mentors teach mentees to trust their own abilities and skills. At the same time, they urge their mentee to search out and seek professional avenues he or she might not have known about or would have taken much longer to discover otherwise.

To read more expert advice, click here.

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