The issue of new graduate nurse retention remains a challenge in many healthcare facilities. More than 50% of new graduate nurses leave their first employment in less than a year (North, Johnson, Knotts & Whelan 2006). Because new recruits are often faced with a variety of stressors in their beginning practice it is clear that a structured mentoring program could be of immense value. Such a program would provide technical and emotional support to nurses and so ease their transition into the unit culture. This article provides a critical review of the literature on mentoring, especially the impact that structured mentoring programs have on the retention rates of new graduate nurses. In the first section I will explore the nature of mentorship within the nursing discipline. I will discuss the functions of a formal mentoring program and the chief characteristics of the mentor: mentee relationship. In the second section I will provide a critical review of the literature concerning the relationship between mentoring programs and increased nurse retention rates. The third section explores common pitfalls that subsume in a dysfunctional mentoring program. Finally recommendations to organisations are proposed based on the review findings.
Graduating from a nursing school is a considerable achievement. New graduates eagerly anticipate their first position in the ‘real world’. The issue however of new graduate nurse retention continues to be a grave concern in many healthcare facilities. It was reported that more than 50% of new graduate nurses leave their first employment in less than a year (North, Johnson, Knotts & Whelan 2006). New recruits are often faced with a variety of stressors associated with beginning practice. It is clear therefore, that a structured mentoring program which provides technical and emotional support to new nurses may be one of the best retention strategies for nurse administrators. This article provides a critical review of the literature on mentoring, with an emphasis on the impact that structured mentoring programs have on nursing retention rates. The first section sets up mentoring concepts and processes as identified in the literature. The second section will provide a critical review of the literature on the relationship between structured mentoring programs and the nursing retention rate. The third section explores common pitfalls that subsume in a dysfunctional mentoring program. The final section makes recommendations to organisations regarding a successful mentoring program.
New nurse graduates have many employment options. They can choose not to work in settings where they are not supported and often they take that option. Common themes emerging from the literature show that many new nurses lack both confidence and a sense of competence (Oermann & Garvin 2002). They are afraid of making mistakes; they complain of an unsupportive environment; and of being obliged to work with ‘difficult’ colleagues (Oermann & Garvin 2002). A lack of recognition of their work as well as difficult shift-work schedules have also been identified as sources of distress (McVicar 2003). It is a sad fact that one out of every three nurses under 30 years plans to leave during his or her first year of employment (Nelson, Godfrey & Purdy 2004). The cost of such high levels of unnecessary nurse turnover is significant (Halfer, Graf & Sullivan 2008). More significantly the resulting deficit of nursing personnel inevitably affects the quality of patient care in hospitals and can compromise patient safety (Leners, Wilson, Connor & Fenton 2006). In response to the critical issue of nursing retention, hospital managements have been urged to address the issue...