April 23, 2009
Mentoring is a multidimensional relationship that energizes personal and professional growth (Wagner and Seymour, 2007). The purpose of this paper is to explore the concept of mentoring and the key role it plays in the development of nurse managers.
Over the past 20 years the concept of mentoring has grown more popular in our workplaces. Many public service organizations, as well as, corporations have developed formal mentoring programs for both management and staff for the purpose of improving overall operations, productivity and overall commitment to the organizations goals. Mentoring is now being recognized in nursing and other healthcare fields. This concept analysis will attempt to clearly define the concept mentoring while differentiating it from precepting and clinical supervision. Finally, this article will discuss the importance of a mentoring program designed for developing managers.
While searching the literature, many articles regarding mentoring can be found in business and management journals but few are found in nursing and medical journals. In the nursing and medical journals the concept of mentoring appears murky. In some cases the terms mentoring, precepting and clinical supervision are used interchangeably. This leads to confusion and inaccuracy.
The word mentor dates back to Greek Mythology. Mentor was a friend of Odysseus entrusted with the education of Odysseus’ son Telemachus. The Webster dictionary defines mentor as a trusted and wise counselor or guide, a tutor or coach (Give, 1966). Other definitions include, “a learning relationship”, “a critical companionship” and a process in which two or more people create a connection in a safe environment that allows healing truth and wisdom to be discovered (Wagner and Seymour, 2007). For the purposes of this paper we will use the following definition: Mentoring occurs when a senior person in terms of experience not necessarily age provides information, advice and emotional support for the mentee or protégé in a relationship lasting over an extended period of time and marked by emotional commitment by both parties. If the opportunity presents itself the mentor uses both formal and informal forms of influence to further the career path of the protégé. (Bowen, 1985)
The mentoring process consists of four steps: initiation, cultivation, separation and redefinition (Kram, 1983). The first stage involves the mentor and the mentee becoming acquainted and setting goals. During the cultivation stage, information is shared, problem solving, decisions and exploration of alternatives occur. During the separation stage, the mentee is empowered to move towards their goal and enhance their career path. In the final stage of redefinition, the mentor/mentee relationship evolves to a mutual friendship or the relationship is terminated. (Wagner and Seymour, 2007)
As stated earlier mentoring should not be confused with the terms preceptor and clinical supervision. Clinical supervision is defined as the process whereby a practitioner reviews with another person his ongoing clinical work and relevant aspects of his own reactions to that work. It is also defines as a practice focused professional relationship involving a practitioner reflecting on practice while guided by a supervisor. (Lyth, 2000) Clinical supervision focuses on an individual situation. Once the goal is reached the process is complete.
Precepting is defined as teaching job responsibilities and related tasks (Grossman, 2009). The precepting relationship is similar to that of a teacher and student. Once the task is learned sufficiently, the relationship ends. The precepting relationship is time limited in that the task must be learned within a certain timeframe.
Attributes of Mentoring