The REALLY underutilised secret to finding your niche.

The underutilised secret to finding your niche. Drum Roll…..

A nurse mentor!

When done properly a nurse mentor can be life and career-changing. This is especially true of new nurses as a mentor can be invaluable for their education and their preparation as a nurse in the real world (outside uni and pracs).  A nurse mentorship can be formal via your hospital or informal.  

Nurse mentorships aren’t overly common in Australia but they should be.  If there is none offered in your work what then? I am setting you a challenge.  Find someone who you want to be your mentor and ask them!  This shows you are forward-thinking and the person will be incredibly flattered. Yes, it can be nerve-racking BUT is that one moment of nerves not an amazing pay off for the many benefits which can come from a mentor? Yes, it is. 

What is a nurse mentor?

 A nurse mentor is an experienced nurse who volunteers to serve as a role model, advocate and motivator to help new nurses settle into their careers. Mentors serve to provide formal and informal training, support and counselling to new nurses within safe environments, in and out of clinical settings. This relationship can last from months to years depending on how much each party wants from it. 

What does a nurse mentor do?

After completing all your academic work and practical placements, nurses begin their journey into nursing. Once you are in the real-world health care workplace, you may be struck by the pressures and intensity of the nursing profession. This is where nurse mentors are needed to provide guidance and share their clinical experiences to help new nurses gain confidence in their roles.

Who can use a mentor?

Anyone! At any stage of your career really. Mentorships have been found to be a really successful way to achieve professional growth and personal development of new grad nurses but also other nurses who are transitioning into new roles. If you are a nurse you should consider getting yourself a mentor. 

So what makes a good mentor?

Here are 8 key points that help to foster an effective mentorship.

  1. Commitment

Mentoring is an ongoing active process. A mentor needs to be willing to invest time and energy in a one-on-one relationship.

If you make a commitment to do it, you must fully commit to it, please. It is not fair for either party if you start letting it taper off. Think of it as a contribution to advancing the future of nursing. 

If we really want to retain good nurses we need to all be giving back when we can and supporting other nurses. 

It is a real privilege to be a mentor- you get to watch someone new grow in their career and in their personal achievements. Amazing!

  1. Supportive

A mentor’s role is primarily to support and encourage other nurses to manage their own learning in order to develop their skills.

Mentors need to be approachable, reasonable and competent nurses themselves. They need to be committed to helping mentees achieve the success of which they are capable of. A good mentor not only strengthens the mentee as a nurse but also as a person as well.

  1. Role Model

The mentor is the guide, expert and role model who helps develop a new or less experienced mentee. Mentors need to use experience and insights that helped them to help others. The mentor needs to be walking their talk. They should role model the desired behaviours of a successful nurse. 

  1. Realistic expectations

It is vital that mentors and mentees have realistic expectations of their joint goals. Set limits for how often to meet and what needs to happen at each meeting. When I say meeting I mean coffee in the cafeteria, this doesn’t have to be formal and stuffy! Patience, honesty and collaboration with each other will help foster stronger relationships.

  1. The right fit

Mentoring is an ongoing relationship between a mentor and mentee for as long as both find meaning and value in it. It is really important that you click with the person. Trust your gut, don’t pick someone who you know isn’t right for you but think they will help you get where you want. If it’s not working once you start, then cut your losses sooner rather than later. 

  1. Appropriate mentor

It is crucial that the mentor knows what it is like to be in the position of the mentee. They should know the role and therefore be able to guide you with insider info. They can help you by sharing their personal pitfalls and experiences.

  1. Positivity

Ideally, a mentor should be someone who is passionate about their career and passionate about sharing knowledge. You really need someone who is positive and enthusiastic. They should have the right motivation for being a mentor. It shouldn’t be something for their CV only. Look for genuine interest in both parties. 

  1. Know your own limitations

It’s important to be willing to know your limits as a mentor. Admit when you don’t know something and work together to find out the answer. This is great role modelling and shows how to work within your scope of practice.

Action point:

  • Think about if getting a mentor may be the right thing for you. If it is then JUMP IN! Ask someone and let me know it turns out.

Email me at beth@autonomic.com.au if you have any questions or hit me up on the socials. 

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