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The Who, What, Where, When, and Why of a Mentorship

Tuesday, September 3, 2019  
Posted by: Brandon Dominguez, MSN, RN, CHEP
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When following a career path, participating in a mentorship makes all the difference. A mentorship is a dynamic, reciprocal relationship in a work environment between an advanced-career incumbent (mentor) and a beginner (mentee), aimed at promoting the career development of both (Pillon & Osmun, 2013). Mentorships promote professional identity, motivation, and persistence (Hernandez et al., 2017). These are all critical characteristics of a nurse leader. 

The benefits of mentorship

Nurses at all levels can benefit from participating in a mentorship, both as a mentor and as a mentee. The career-long role of the nurse as a teacher and student are fundamental to the profession, and learning from peers can result in exponential professional and personal growth (Arntson, Rovertson & Robinson, 2019). 

Nurse leaders serving as mentors have the potential to gain insight into their organization and practice. Mentees offer a unique perspective into an organization’s clinical and administrative practices, and mentors report gaining insight into the strengths and weaknesses within their organizations' onboarding processes, practice changes, and daily workflows. 

Even organizations can benefit from mentorships. New nurses who have engaged in a mentorship report less burnout, and some organizations have experienced a 25% increase in nurse retention (Schroyer, Zellers & Abraham, 2016). Healthcare leaders should pursue the development and implementation of a mentorship program within their organization. 

How to start

The Association of California Nurse Leaders (ACNL) has an annual structured mentoring program designed to build leadership, collaboration, and mentoring skills with a focus on advancing the nursing profession. This six-month program includes aspiring nurse leaders (mentees) and experienced nurse leaders (mentors) in service or academia who are committed to the future of nursing. For more information on this program, visit

Another opportunity for nurses to engage in a mentorship is through social networking sites like LinkedIn and Facebook. There are many peer-supported groups and professional organizations that have improved visibility for user discovery. A search on Facebook and LinkedIn using the words "nurse mentor" resulted in pages of people, jobs, and groups that are directly related to mentoring nurses. Networks of nurse mentors create redundancies in skills and attributes that alleviate potential issues from a single mentor attempting to fulfill the role (MacLaren, 2018).

Organizations may choose to implement their own mentorship programs. Effective mentor training programs include online interactive webinars, in-person training, didactic instruction, and discussion (Spiva et al., 2017). Third-party companies such as LifeMoxie or Chronus offer mentorship software and planning tools designed to create and maintain your organization’s mentorship program. Some may prefer to start from scratch and want to learn more about the fundamentals and theory of mentoring. The book "Mentoring in Nursing and Healthcare: Supporting career and personal development" by Woolnough and Fielden (2017), is a great resource to facilitate self-directed learners.

Final Thoughts

These approaches are only a few examples of how nurse leaders can implement mentorship education to prepare a foundation to support evidence-based practice. Nurses across all levels of experience should participate in a mentorship. Whether you are an experienced nurse who wants to foster the profession's growth, or you are a new nurse seeking career guidance, engaging in mentorships has incredible potential to improve healthcare for all.


Arntson, N., Robertson, A., Robinson, C., & Segui, C. (2019). Peer advisory leaders: Exploring the benefits of peer mentorship.
Hernandez, P. R., Bloodhart, B., Barnes, R. T., Adams, A. S., Clinton, S. M., Pollack, I., ... & Fischer, E. V. (2017). Promoting professional identity, motivation, and persistence: Benefits of an informal mentoring program for female undergraduate students. PloS one, 12(11), e0187531.
MacLaren, J.-A. (2018). Supporting nurse mentor development: An exploration of developmental constellations in nursing mentorship practice. Nurse Education in Practice, 28, 66. Retrieved from
Pillon, S., & Osmun, W. E. (2013). Mentoring in a digital age. Canadian Family Physician, 59(4), 442-444.
Schroyer, C. C., Zellers, R., & Abraham, S. (2016). Increasing registered nurse retention using mentors in critical care services. The health care manager, 35(3), 251-265.
Spiva, L., Hart, P. L., Patrick, S., Waggoner, J., Jackson, C., & Threatt, J. L. (2017). Effectiveness of an Evidence-Based Practice Nurse Mentor Training Program. Worldviews on Evidence-Based Nursing, 14(3), 183–191.


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