Finding your nurse mentor
Looking for a nurse mentor? Try these tips from Kati Kleber (aka Nurse Eye Roll).
When you’re learning the ropes as a newbie nurse, you’re typically assigned a preceptor who’s responsible for teaching you how to be a nurse on your unit. The preceptor is your teacher, encourager and person who holds you accountable. While it’s essential to have a preceptor, it’s also essential to have a nurse mentor.
What is a nurse mentor, you ask? It’s someone who is not your preceptor. Let me repeat that: It is someone who is not your preceptor.
The new nurse/preceptor relationship is important and can be delicate. You will be told you’re doing some things wrong. You’ll be in the midst of some tense situations as you learn how to navigate them independently. As you’re learning, you will want an outsider’s perspective on various situations, time management and relationship building, just to name a few. You want to establish a trusting relationship with one person as your mentor outside of the new nurse/preceptor relationship.
Your nurse mentor is someone you can talk to about the orientation process who can support you outside of your preceptor. They can encourage you; they can clarify things for you. They can say, “That’s how that doctor treats everyone—try not to take it personally” or “That nurse is usually grumpy in the morning. Give him an hour after report,” and all of those other little things you learn about the culture of a unit that aren’t in the handbook.
When trying to figure out who to ask to be your mentor, think of the following:
- Someone you hit it off with right away
- Someone you already know and have a relationship with (if you happen to already know someone!)
- Someone with whom you feel comfortable being open and honest
- Someone you respect around the unit and whose advice you trust
- Someone who is a good nurse and takes great care of their patients
- Someone who will make time for you and will check up on you to see how you’re doing
- Someone who is not a gossip and is a good professional role model
- Someone you will listen to and respect when/if they tell you that you’re wrong or could have handled a situation better
I want to encourage you to establish this relationship with someone. It doesn’t need to be facilitated by management or your preceptor, although many times it is. It can be as simple as identifying this person on your unit and asking them, “Would you mind being my mentor as I go through orientation and for a little while after?”
If you’re a seasoned nurse and had a nurse mentor, whether formally or informally, what do you remember most about them? What did you appreciate about them and what did they do that helped you develop as a new nurse? Share with us in the comments section.