If you’re just starting out as a nurse, it’s never to early to look for a mentor. Finding a great mentor that will work for you and your needs can be difficult, but it is totally worth it in the long run. Finding your own mentor, as opposed to being assigned one by your manager, director, or other facility member, ensures that you’ll have the best experience possible. If you’re looking for a mentor to help you get off on the right foot to your career, keep reading.
Why a Mentor?
Before we get into how to find the perfect mentor, let’s discuss why you should have a mentor as a nurse in the first place. If you’ve finished nursing school, you may be thinking that you’ve got the whole nursing thing down and that you don’t need any assistance. But entering the world of healthcare as a working nurse is much different than simply learning about it. There are minefields of ethics, new skills, and personal growth that need to be navigated. Having a co-pilot to help is incredibly beneficial. A great mentor will be able to handle stress well (and share with you some stress management techniques), excel in their field with both knowledge and practice, be passionate about nursing, and be supportive and patient as you encounter new challenges.
So now you know why you need one, here’s how to find one. Just follow these simple steps:
- Figure out why you want one.
We just went over the benefits of having a mentor, but it’s also important to isolate your own personal reasons for wanting a mentoring experience. When you find the right person you would like to mentor you, you should be able to give specific things that you are looking to get out of the experience. Your focus may be on learning from the best to excel in nursing; you might want to learn how to develop yourself personally while working in such a demanding field; perhaps you are looking for networking opportunities to make good professional connections. Whatever your reasons are, there is a person out there who will suit your needs and mentor you to success.
- Understand what qualities you are looking for in a mentor.
A mentor is essentially a professional role model. They should exemplify the type of nurse that you would like to become one day, so look for qualities that you strive to develop within yourself. Aside from your own personal specific requirements, your mentor should also be a good listener and communicator who has an abundance of patience. They should also be a few years ahead of you career-wise, since they’ll have experience going through what you will face in the near future.
- Think about your own strengths and weaknesses.
To find the right mentor for you, you need to choose one that compliments your own work style and can help boost you where you are lacking. For example, if you struggle with managing work-related stress, you’ll want a mentor that has a consistently calm demeanor. If you’ve come to see that communicating with tact is troublesome for you, a good mentor for you will be someone who excels in positive communication.
- Think of convenience.
Choosing the right mentor isn’t as simple as just picking a person that would be a good match. You’ll need to consider if a mentorship is something that is realistic for both of you. Nurses have very busy schedules and the work is demanding. If you’ve got a nurse in mind that you would like to mentor you, make sure that they have the time to do it. You may also want to consider geographical issues. You’ll want to meet in person with your mentor occasionally to discuss work so you might want to think about approaching someone from your own facility or organization for mentorship.
- Find the one.
Once you’ve done all of the above steps, you should have a short list of potential mentors that you’d like to work with. If you’re having a hard time coming up with names, ask other nurses for suggestions and find out who has mentored nurses like you before. When you have your list, start approaching nurses that you’d like to ask. Don’t be afraid to ask anyone, even if they are powerful and important. The worst they can say is no, and that isn’t really so bad. What’s more likely is that you will find the right mentor for you that will bring you to success in nursing.