What Are the Qualities of an Effective Mentor in Nursing?
In the world we have people working in different fields and one important aspect is that as an individual joins a particular field they need to be guided so as to easily adapt to their new environment. The people who provide the needed guidance or who make the transition to a new field possible are called mentors. The people or students joining the nursing field just as any other, need to have a mentor who is supportive and has experience. My interest for this research is to find out the qualities of an effective mentor as it is essential for any practice. A mentor is usually considered to have the knowledge, the skills and intelligence and is also an expert at what he or she does (Jokelainen et al, 2011). This means that as they mentor the new people in nursing field they will have the basic training for them and also help them learn what is expected of them. It is therefore important for nursing leadership as the new personnel can grasp the important skills or characteristics of leadership and be able to apply in their future practice (Ferguson, 2011). The findings of this paper can be used to enlighten the society point of view when a person is being recruited to any job. Mentoring enhances the quality of nursing leadership and it not only benefits the professionals but the patients and the society at large.
ANALYSIS OF LITERATUE
Over the years a lot of literature on mentorship has been published by various authors who give their perception about it. Some of their opinions are similar while others differ. Most of the authors base their opinions from researches they conducted while others provide a critical review of their work. One important characteristic of mentors is that they should be a source of motivation. In this literature analysis some theories considered were Abrahams Maslow motivational theory of 1987 and the Grounded theory by Glaser and Strauss (Chinn, Peace and Power, 2012).
In his theory Maslow explained that human beings have needs which should be met his focus was majorly in professional practice. He explained that needs are ranked in a hierarchy so that high order needs will only be fulfilled once the lower order needs have been met. He ranked physiological needs as the first followed by need for safety and security, belonging, self-esteem and at the top of it was self actualization. From this ranking of needs the effective mentor can be described as one who not only gives the students guidance on learning but enables them to get the sense of belonging in their field. A mentor will also takes into account that student may suffer from anxiety or low self esteem and it is their responsibility to support them and help boost their self-esteem (Ferguson, 2011). The mentor-student relationship should facilitate the transition to the profession practice for the student. A mentor should be willing to listen and reason with the students, provide a feedback on their progress and be able to widen the scope of students beyond just doing a job. He or she could assist them get to the point of self actualization by giving guidance or by encouraging them to generate new ideas to solve existing problems.
Grounded Theory is a methodology of developing a theory based on data that is collected and analysed through the use of constant comparative technique. It has also been important in explaining the role of mentorship on student nurses. In the book of Ferguson L., a research was conducted in Canada the researcher based his report on the experiences of new nurses and how the mentorship they received assists them in transitioning to their professional practice. The researcher used the Grounded Theory and applied qualitative process for data collection and analysis. The main aim was to explore the effect of both formal and informal mentorship on the new nurses’ professional integration and socialization. The research showed that entry into the professional practice is not easy as it is filled with uncertainties and most of the new professionals tend to lack confidence and have anxiety. This research uses the findings from nurses’ experiences and explains some of the factors that enable one to grow in professional practice. Some of the factors considered were work place aspects and the attributes and skills possessed by mentors. The author explains that these factors can help a student to grow as professional or inhibit their growth. The informal mentorship played a great role in enhancing the nurse’s transition into their new social environment. An important element of mentorship is the building of trust. This improves professional collaboration and the diversification of professional knowledge.
The new nurses preferred to be in a supportive learning environment that boosts their clinical judgment. They further explained that a mentor should posses some desirable characteristics that foster enable them make proper clinical judgment and professionalism and a good learning environment to. A mentor should be able to portray supportive behavior, be a strong role model with relational skills and most importantly a trust worthy individual.
A lot of research on mentorship for nurses has been carried out over the years. Some well known researchers included Darling (1984), Davies et al (1994) and Spouse (1996). Darling conducted a study by interviewing nurses and physicians to find out about each individuals experience with their mentors. Davies et al study was to investigate the impact of introducing the mentoring process in Common Foundation Program (CFP). His research involved four colleges in which 360 interviews were administered. A good mentor is someone who possesses appropriate professional attributes, knowledge, good communication skills and the motivation to teach and support students (Chinn, Peace and Power, 2012). He further explained that a mentor has the role of teaching, assessing performance of the students and be supportive. Spouse used a four year longitudinal study based on a purposive sample to describe the process of becoming a nurse and the experience an individual lived through. Spouse concluded the quality of the student-mentor association was vital. Some of the important elements of achieving this quality included befriending, coaching and planning.
The results of the research studies received mixed support where some people agree with the researcher’s findings while others criticize the results. Merriam (1983) reviewed the literature of research on mentorship and criticized the operation definitions used and also the process of data collection. She argued that definitions were biased and only reflected the researcher’s opinion. Another critic of the research findings was Hagerty (1986) who explained that the research methodology applied was questionable and the sample size used was inappropriate. However Gray & Smith (2010) explained that the student-mentor relationship is fundamental to the quality of learning experiences for students. This view received support from Spouses work.
According to Kaihlanel, Lakanmaa and Ssalminene (2013), the transition from nursing student to nurse is characterized as unpredictable and challenging. The relationship between the mentor and student should be one that supports professional growth. The mentor is a role model who advises the student nurses that gives them the sense of belonging and desire to learn while still in practice. A research conducted in Finnish revealed that the student-mentor relationship greatly impacted on the self-confidence of the student which could be positive or negative and is reflected in his or working life. In this study a mentor is seen as a role model who the students emulate for their professional identity. The students describe a mentor as one who is understanding, patient and an expert in his field.
A journal on a systematic review of mentoring nursing students in clinical placements (2011) focused on developing and providing the understanding of mentorship. The systematic review was done to identify factors that influence the process of mentoring. The two essential factors identified were facilitating students learning and strengthening student’s professionalism. A supportive learning environment is considered crucial as it enables the nurses improve their skills and attain their goals. To facilitate this, the mentor should be available to provide guidance and proper training hence the learning environment has to be organized with the necessary equipment (Grossman and Valiga, 2013). When considering ways of strengthen a student’s professionalism, a mentor has to consider the desirable professional attributes. The attitudes of the students and their competence are key aspects to enabling them to create a professional identity. The mentorship process should enable new nurses acquire good communication skills, express their opinions confidently, guide them on how to interact with patients and also come up with ideas to better the profession as well as the health care system.
Jennifer Doering (2008-2011) a professor of nursing in her scholarly work conducted a study on the difficulties young nurses encounter in meeting their career and family demands. According to her research mentors play a crucial role in modeling their mentees and enabling them to succeed. They act as career counselors helping them identify and acquire necessary resources to attain their research goals.
According to McBride a nurse leader in her book “The Growth and Development of Nurse Leaders” she explains mentoring as a socialization experience (Gray & Smith, 2010). She further explains it as an ongoing, collaborative relationship between two individuals where one is senior to the other. This assists in nurturing the growth of the student nurses in their field.
The Institute of Medicine (IOM) in 2010 released a report on the future of nursing. According to the report it is essential for nurses to go through mentorship process as it strengthens the labor force and boosts the quality of care provided to patients ( Glass and Walter, 2000). Mentoring is important as it helps nurses develop leadership skills that can be used to bring about development. This is achieved if they participate in the designing and delivering of health care with the main goal of improving the nation’s health care system. It is also seen as a way to help health care organizations and nursing academic institutions manage and retain nurses.
RELEVANCE OF FINDINGS
The different research studies included in the literature analysis have all played a crucial role of explaining the importance of the mentoring process. The findings all depict that mentors are key players in developing a competent, skilled and knowledgeable nursing work force. The different studies portray mentors in the nursing field as qualified experts who provide support and who assist the new nurses to transition smoothly from students to professionals.
Mentors act as role models their mentees this means that their character will greatly impact on the attitudes and professional identities of the new nurses. They are therefore key players for enabling the new nurses to succeed in their careers. They act as career counselors helping them identify and acquire necessary resources to attain their research goals (Glass and Walter, 2000). A good mentor should lay the foundation of a proper working relationship between him and the trainees. A nursing mentor should encourage the students to gain interactive skills which are helpful in managing the patients.
The mentorship process should be participatory this means that the mentors challenge the young professionals to come up with ideas for various situations. Some level of consistency is also important so as to build on trust. Time spent between the two should not be limited or too much but maintained at a professional level (Grossman and Valiga, 2013). The mentor should be impartial without any prejudices. A mentor should always remain objective.
These studies have been relevant as they explain the importance of mentoring. In today’s society it is beneficial not only to the professionals but the society as a whole.
Chinn, P.L. Peace and Power (2012): New Directions for Building Community (8th ed)
Ferguson, L. (2011). From the perspective of new nurses: what do effective mentors look like in practice ?. Nurse Education In Practice, 11(2), 119-123. doi: 10.1016/j.nepr.2010.11.003
Gray, M. A., & Smith, L. N. (2010). The qualities of an effective mentor from the student nurse's perspective: findings from a longitudinal qualitative study. Journal of Advanced Nursing. doi:10.1046/j.1365-2648.2000.01606.x
Glass, N & Walter, R 2000, ‘An experience of peer mentoring with nurse students: enhancement of personal and professional growth’ , journal of nursing Education, vol 39
Grossman, S.C. & Valiga, T.M (2013). The New Leadership Challenge: Creating the future of Nursing (4th ed)
Jokelainen, M., Turunen, H., Tossavainen, K., Jamookeeah, D., & Coco, K. (2011). A systematic review of mentoring nursing students in clinical placements. Journal Of Clinical Nursing, 20(19/20), 2854-2867. doi: 10.1111/j. 1365-2702.2010.03571.x
Kaihlanen, A., Lakanmaa, R., & Salminene, L. (2013). The transition from nursing student to registered nurse: The mentor’s possibilities to act as a supporter. Nurse Education In Practice, 13(5), 418-422. doi: 10.1016/j.nepr.2013.01.001