Benefits of Mentoring in Nursing
Nursing is an evolving profession with an aging work force. Newer nurses are entering a challenging and, at times, thankless profession. The need to train new staff in order to promote desired entry into the profession and increase retention in the field and workplace is dire. The adage that nurses eat their young is a common well-known phrase. It is unlikely in today’s world, where career choices are vast, that pressure and verbal abuse will yield a professional nurse who will be engaged and committed. This type of training does not benefit the new nurse or the experienced nurse attempting a new role. Nor, does it behoove the patient who, ultimately, is to be championed by the nurse. In the terms of the employers, staff attrition is costly, creating the need for the additional dollars to be spent on recruitment and orientation (Greene and Puetzer, 2002, p. 68). Low morale and burnout are a consequence of attrition rates, as well. The purpose of this paper is to explore such needs for mentoring in the nursing profession, the role of the mentor, and the benefits of mentoring.
Inability to retain nursing staff has a devastating impact on the profession and employers. According to Bally (2007, p. 143) “nurses are leaving professional nursing practice due to feelings of stress, inadequacy, anxiety, oppression, and disempowerment”. Nurses are the frontline of patient care and steps must be taken to safeguard effective health care and produce positive patient outcomes. Higher patient acuity, heavier workloads, low morale, and reduced resources could lead to risking positive patient health outcomes (Bally, 2007). If colleagues are not able to extract support and inspiration from each other then nurses are at risk for feeling apathetic toward their professions. A basic premise in nursing that enriches our profession is that of a shared responsibility between colleagues. Nursing must foster this shared responsibility to encourage the individual’s growth. According to Bastable, Gramet, Jacobs, and Sopczyk (2011, p. 208), “only rarely does motivation occur without extrinsic influence.” Therefore, costly short term responses will not be successful to enhance recruitment and retention without focusing on “fostering collegial relationships, enhancing nurses’ sense of self, promoting professional development, and encouraging feelings of professional worth” (Bally, 2007, p. 143). Lack of interest and concern in one’s profession is counterproductive to establishing solid basis for promotion of patient care. Nurse attrition is costly for an organization, and can lead to mistakes by the nurse, which directly impacts patient outcomes. Poor patient outcomes further affect the organization as reimbursement rates by insurance companies and consumer driven care is paramount in driving today’s health care settings fiscal success. The personal benefit for the patient to have a motivated, resourceful, knowledgeable nurse with expertise garnered from the benefit of not only their experience, but also from the experience of those who have influenced their practice is immeasurable. It can mean the difference between life and death, in some cases. The aforementioned issues “demand that efforts be made to support and encourage new and senior nurses in order to retain competent nursing staff (Bally, 2007, p. 144).
One of the ways to achieve this professional promotion and encouragement is through mentoring. It is recognized in much research as a highly valuable evidence based strategy. According to Bastable, et al., evidence based practice is the use of current best evidence in making decisions about care (2011, p. 543). “Nurses value the use of scientific evidence to guide practice and improve the quality of health care” (Cullen and Titler, 2004, p. 215). The question then is what are the roles of the mentor, how...