Top 5 Tips for Graduate School Success

Top 5 Tips for Graduate School Success

Top 5 Tips for Graduate school

So, you are thinking about completing your Master’s degree.  You may be just graduating with your bachelor’s, established in your career, seeking career advancement, or an overall career change.  You should commend yourself wherever you currently are in your professional journey.  Graduate school is essential for career progression and as daunting as the challenge may be it is feasible and worthwhile.  However, there are certain things that I wish I had known previously to enrolling in my first graduate courses that would have saved me a ton of grief on this grad school journey.

Learn the APA Manual

Do you briefly remember being introduced to this in your undergraduate English and Research classes?  You know, the blue book that you couldn’t wait to toss as soon as you completed those courses!  Well, don’t get too excited and toss that manual out just yet.  The APA manual will be your bible at the graduate level.  It is best to not only familiarize yourself with it but read it cover to cover.  In all seriousness, there will be no mercy for APA formatting issues at the graduate level, and failure to comply will hinder your ability to graduate.  Let’s be honest; graduate school is very expensive so do not lose points over APA errors and get your bang for your bucks when it’s time to cash in on that top G.P.A.

Proofread

Grad school will push your writing capabilities to the maximum.  When I first started, I went in under the false pretenses that I was a decent writer.  After all, my highest scores were always in English and Language Arts.  However, never underestimate the power of proofreading your document, or having someone else review it.  It is important to remember that you are not supposed to be writing as if you are talking in scholarly writing.  Read every single thing you submit out loud at least two times before turning it in.  You will be surprised at some errors you will find in your documents once you hear it out loud. I swear by Owlet Purdue, Grammarly, and PERRLA to assist with the completion of my papers.

Don’t Break

One of the biggest mistakes that I made during my Grad school journey was “taking a break”.  Apparently, life happens to everybody, but if you can help it, you should stay on the course to graduate on time.  While taking a leave of absence is certainly an option, there are some universities have a time limit on the amount of time you can spend on the completion of your master’s degree.  Taking a leave of absence sounds a nice break until you return and you are under even more pressure to complete your degree.  Stay on track and graduate on time.  Put yourself out of grad school misery.  Try not to prolong it.

Find Balance

My zodiac sign of a Libra makes finding balance very high on my priority list.  Regardless of your sign, it is essential to find a way to balance everything you have going on in life.  Many of us are career focused, have spouses or partners, children, and community obligations.  There are going to be some times that you will simply have to say no to others as well as avoid taking on too many additional duties.  You have to be able to take care of yourself before you can take care of others.  Do not feel guilty about taking a step back or going on a much need hiatus to keep everything together.  Remember that this is temporary, and there will always be opportunities to restock your plate once you have graduated.

Cost vs. Reputation

This has been an ongoing debate for such a long time.  I will give you my honest opinion and say that it is best to go for value in regards to selecting a school to attend.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with investing yourself, but please do not break the bank along the way.  Try your very best to avoid debt, save up, and develop a reasonable budget that you can use to finance your educational goals.  If you are shelling out a ton of money, ensure that the institution has a reputation that fits your tuition bill.  Student loan debt is a serious problem.  Remember that you will need to pay that money back, and if this degree does not make a high paying job seem promising to you it may be necessary to scale back.  Remember, grad school isn’t cheap!

Wrapping it All Up

I hope that you avoid the pitfalls that I incurred during my grad school journey and that these tips will help ease you in your transition and prepare you for entry into grad school.  A graduate degree is totally obtainable; it’s just a different academic dynamic.  I’ll see you on the other side!

graduation photo

 

 

 

GPS Navigation to Success

GPS Navigation to Success

A law is defined as a system of rules that are enforced through social institutions to govern behaviors. As citizens of our respective countries we all try our best to abide by the laws that have been set forth by our government so we can avoid any havoc in our lives and remain in a state of freedom. But what about laws for success and or to navigate this thing called life…do we have a system of rules in these capacities? According to Deepak Chopra there is a system of rules that have been set-forth to govern our path to success and life. In the book titled “ The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success” we are presented with a set of laws that serve as a practical guide to the fulfillment of our dreams.

My first thought when reading the title of the book was “ok so now I have another set of laws that I must adhere to if I want to be successful and have a fulfilling life, here we go with more rules and regulations”. However, after reading the statement “ Success is a journey, not a destination” and that “the law of success and life is the process by which the unmanifest becomes the manifest; it’s the process by which the observer becomes the observed; it’s the process by which the seer becomes the scenery; it’s the process through which the dreamer manifest the dream” in the introduction alone, I knew there was something different about these laws. I had a sense that these laws were getting ready to go into a deep spiritual space in which I honestly knew needed to be rattled up within me, so I dived in head first.

After being intrigued by the introduction, there laid the seven spiritual laws to success which were The Law of Pure Potentiality; The Law of Giving; The Law of “Karma” or Cause & Effect; The Law of Least Effort; The Law of Intention and Desire; The Law of Detachment; & The Law of “Dharma” or Purpose in Life. Each of these laws made me have a “ That’s Right ”moment as they went deeper and deeper into my spiritual space.
Psalm
The law of Pure Potentiality let me know that I need to be still! Often times with the daily hustle and bustle of life and all the different moving pieces of our lives we don’t have to time to just sit in stillness. God has an assignment for each one of us and wants to give us special spiritual instructions to carry out our divine assignments, to go in the direction he wants us to go, or operate in the capacity in which he wants us to operate in but we are not in a state of stillness to hear from him.

The law of giving impressed upon me that I am not given money, joy, peace, etc. to hoard it, but rather I am given these things to share with others and every time I encounter someone I must GIVE! I must give a prayer, a compliment, a word of encouragement, or a flower. My giving can be material or nonmaterial but the bottom line is I must give something.

The law of “Karma” or cause and effect made me realize that before I perform any action, I need to ask myself two important questions, which are “what are the consequences of this choice that I am getting ready to make? and will this choice bring fulfillment and happiness to me and those involved?” and if the answer to these questions are not favorable then I need to stop in my tracks and consciously rethink my actions.

The law of least effort made me aware that I am not obligated to defend my point of view to anyone, but rather take that energy and put it toward something more purposeful.

The law of intention and desire provided me with a sense of ease as it let me know that my attention needs to be in the present, then my intent for the future will manifest because my future state is being created in my present state, as I must accept the present as it is.

The law of detachment forced me to come out of my comfort zone and to go into the area of uncertainty which is where all possibilities are located. When we detach from the norm then we are no longer attached to the things in which we are truly fearful of because in attachment lies our fears and insecurities.

The law of dharma or purpose in life encouraged me find my divinity. I was created for a purpose that me on only me can fulfill. It doesn’t matter how many other people do what I do, only I can do it my way with the talents and gifts that I express only the way that I can express them. Once I had the courage to truly get to know thy self then I was able to serve humanity by living on purpose.

To sum up what these laws have done for me is simple, they are ensuring that I am a law-abiding citizen who lives on purpose!

Living Purposely,

Nicole Thomas

How to Study in Nursing School

How to Study in Nursing School

If there’s one question that I frequently get asked by nursing students, it is how to properly study to pass nursing tests and exams and make it out of nursing school alive. During nursing school I tried different ways to study and it took trial and error for me to finally find what worked best for me. Here are my top study habits to help you get those A’s and tackle nursing school exams.

Best Study Habits:

1. What type of learner are you?

First and foremost, determine what your learning style is. It’s imperative that you’re honest with yourself about the type of learner you are to get the best results from studying. Learning styles typically fall into 3 categories: visual, auditory or tactile/kinesthetic learning. Each learning style retains and processes information differently. So before signing up to be a part of that study group session find out if it works for you. Some students are able to study in only quiet places while others can concentrate around loud noise. Here are two educational websites that offer free learning assessments to help you determine which learning style fits you the best: https://www.how-to-study.com/learning-style-assessment/ and http://www.educationplanner.org/students/self-assessments/learning-styles-quiz.shtml

2. Be organized.

Before you begin studying collect all of your essential tools such as notecards, pens, highlighters, coffee, and wine (just kidding). There’s nothing worse than being in your groove when studying and you realize that you’ve forgotten your favorite pen or highlighter. Have a plan of what you want to study for each session and a realistic expectation of how long it will take to go over the material. Give yourself adequate time to review each subject and include break times for each study session. According to a study recently done by Microsoft the average adult has a concentration span of only 8 seconds. That is less than that of a goldfish! So studying straight for hours without any breaks will not help you retain the information more.

3. Set goals.

You had a goal to get into nursing school and you have a goal to graduate, so why not set goals when studying? If there is a particular topic that is a weak area for you take out your planner and set a goal for when you want to fully master that material. Create a study outline with exact dates, time and even the location for when you will study each material. This will help you avoid having to cram for exams. Your class syllabus should have dates for when exams and texts will take place so don’t wait until you’re two weeks into the class to begin setting your study goals.

4. Less is more.

One of the biggest mistakes you can make when studying in nursing school is using too many books or resources at once. Determine which resources are necessary for each exam and study that content. Professors typically outline which books or resources are appropriate to use for each course so use that as a guide on what to use when studying. If not you may run the risk of studying information that contradicts what you were taught in the classroom. Seek guidance from your professor when choosing to use other resources aside from what is required.

Nursing school is probably one of the most stressful and rewarding things you’ll ever go through in life. Help make things easier for yourself with the four study tactics I listed above to help you prepare for every test and ace those exams. Always remain positive and remember to relax before an exam. You’ve got this!

Stay connected with other nurses just like you! Facebook: Fierce Expression and Instagram: @fierceexpression.

Goal Setting: Top five ways to make sure you are accomplishing your goals

Goal Setting: Top five ways to make sure you are accomplishing your goals

The beginning of a new year is a common time to reflect on the previous year, and deciding what goals you would like to accomplish in the next 365 days.  This is not a time to be shy about the things that you want in your life.  Be bold, intentional, and brave when setting goals for yourself.  The sky is not the limit; it is simply the view.  Although we tend to start out highly motivated and dedicated to the goals that we have set, we have got be honest with ourselves and realize that often that ambition can fade, and nothing gets accomplished!  I want to share with you five methods I utilize to keep myself grounded, motivated, and a realizer of my goals.

Find Yourself a GOAL MATE

What is a GOAL MATE?  A goal mate is someone that you have a great connection with that supports, motivates, encourages, and enables you to manifest all of your wildest dreams.  It does not matter how far-fetched they may seem, your GOAL MATE will not only hold you accountable but encourage you to jump in and get dirty neck first.  Whether you succeed or fail at accomplishing a goal they are there to pick you up if you break your neck for real (just kidding), brush you off, and send you on your awesomely merry way to attempt your next goal.  Keep in mind, that in order to be a good GOAL MATE, you need to reciprocate the same energy and tenacity that your partner(s) give to you.  It’s important to keep each other focused, interested, and motivated.

Make Clear, Objective, and Achievable goals

Be clear and intentional about the goals you are setting.  It is also important to be specific.  Think about where you want to be with your finances, health, career, and love life.  Self-love included. Be realistic with your timeline and remember that there are only 12 months in a year, but that is a valuable time that can be leveraged to generate a better you.

Make a Vision Board or Host a Vision Board Party

This is an annual tradition of mine.  Each year I invite my GOAL MATES, friends, neighbors, co-workers over to craft vision boards.  This is inexpensive and so much fun.  All you need is magazines, scissors, glue, posters, your imaginations, and perhaps some wine!

Set Mall Quarterly Milestones

Hold yourself accountable.  Think about where you want your progress to be after 3,6, and 9 months.  I like to review my goals monthly.  This keeps it relevant in my mind.  You should review your goals quarterly at a minimum.  Think about what is working for you, and what you can switch up.

Look at It

If you do not see your goals periodically, or place your vision board somewhere that you can see it every day. I have my goals on my vision board, iPhone, iPad, and posted in my locker at work.  Don’t forget the plans you have made for yourself.  Utilize these tools, go forth, and prosper!

Jazmin Nicole is a military officer, obstetrics nurse, advisory board member of Black Nurses Rock Inc., and the founder/CEO of Jazmin Nicole & Co.

www.iamjazminnicole.com

For more posts/blogs like this follow me on twitter (@jazminweb), Instagram (@therealjazminnicole_, and Facebook (Jazmin Nicole and Co.)

 

The Power of Partnerships

The Power of Partnerships

It all started with a conversation that took place in 1999 between the deans of two highly respected schools of nursing–one of them an Ivy League school, the other a historically black university. These two academic leaders shared a common, passionate goal: to introduce undergraduate nursing students from underrepresented minority populations to careers in advanced practice nursing and research. Today, their germ of an idea has blossomed into a highly successful collaboration that has been praised by the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR) for its leadership role in addressing racial and ethnic health disparities and has been recognized by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as a national model for nursing school health disparities partnership programs around the country.

Catherine Gilliss, RN, DNSc, FAAN, dean of Yale University School of Nursing in New Haven, Conn., and Dorothy Powell, RN, EdD, FAAN, associate dean of Howard University’s Division of Nursing in Washington, D.C., wanted to change the face of nursing research by encouraging talented minority students at the baccalaureate level to develop an interest in research, go on to graduate school and pursue doctoral degrees. The most effective way to accomplish this, the deans agreed, would be to immerse the students in research to help them understand the process. Empowered by that understanding, they reasoned, the students would gain confidence in themselves and in their ability to make a difference by becoming nurse scientists.

So it was that the Yale-Howard Scholars Program was born. Each year, the program brings a small, select group of Howard BSN students to the Yale campus to receive mentorship, training and research opportunities. The project’s original design involved an intensive six-week summer internship in which each Howard scholar was matched with a mentor from Yale–a nursing faculty member conducting funded research–with whom they would work closely.

In the summer of 2000, the first group of nurse scholars traveled to Yale for their internship. Five students from Howard University were chosen to participate. During that inaugural year, Yale covered all of the students’ expenses.

“That first summer,” Powell recalls, “we had to convince the students that this was a good thing to do. We chose good students who were considering graduate school and had an interest in learning about research.”

The students stayed at Yale in campus housing facilities, attended seminars, performed some community service and worked on projects with their mentors. Within the context of the larger research project, the Howard scholars had to identify a research question that they could look at more closely, then use the data from the parent project and transform it into a research problem involving minority health disparities. The students were responsible for studying the data, analyzing it and presenting their results.

“An Incredible Experience”

Nicole Laing, RN, BSN, was one of the first Howard University scholars to attend the internship program at Yale. Her research project focused on type 2 diabetes in minority women.

“I originally wanted a clinical experience but was offered the opportunity to learn about research at Yale, so I went. I thought it would be a good experience and would prepare me for graduate school,” she says. “It was an incredible experience. I enjoyed my mentor’s approach. I was introduced to the research project and encouraged to just dive in. I appreciated being able to run with it.”

Laing graduated from the BSN program at Howard in spring 2001 and is now a graduate student at Yale, studying to become a Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner. “I love it!” she reports. “I’m having a good time and learning a lot. For minority nurses especially, the impact we can make on health care is so great. It’s worth the time and effort required to complete a graduate school education.

“Attending the Yale-Howard internship program definitely fueled my desire to go to graduate school and to attend Yale,” Laing adds. “The internship experience developed me both as a nurse and as a professional. It helped me prove to myself that I could do it, that I could attend an Ivy League school. Sure, it was challenging. But like anything else, I just had to make the commitment and do it.”

 

Making an Impression

At the end of their six-week internship, the inaugural group of Yale-Howard scholars presented their research at a symposium held at Yale. They had created PowerPoint presentations in which they demonstrated the application of statistics and their understanding of the research vocabulary to explain their findings. They fielded questions from doctorally prepared nurses in the audience. Everyone was very impressed at how well the scholars were able to articulate their research, says Powell. “Clearly, there was a transformation in these students,” she declares.

“Presenting my project was a challenge,” Laing remembers, “and it was wonderful! I actually understood the process and felt confident about what the numbers meant.”

But the research experience for the minority students didn’t stop when the six weeks were over and they returned to their own campus. To continue the process, the scholars were assigned Howard University mentors to work with them throughout their senior year. These faculty members attended Yale for three days to study the research being done by the Yale mentors so they could help the students continue their research during an independent study.

At the end of their senior year, the scholars presented their research findings to their own student body at the Howard University Carnegie Endowed Visiting Professorship and Research Day, an annual event where 350 people converge on campus to hear minority nurse scientists share their research. Here, too, the Yale-Howard scholars were very well received. “There was such pride and appreciation from their fellow students,” reports Powell. “The scholars did so well and it made a positive impact on their peers.”

One such peer was Angela McKnight, RN, BSN. “When I heard the scholars give their presentation, I felt encouraged. The following summer, I applied for the internship at Yale,” says McKnight, who participated in the Yale-Howard Scholars Program in summer 2001.

A Shining Example

From this early success, a ripple effect began. Students from Howard signed up for the next internship in droves. The program began to attract national attention. The Yale-Howard scholars became highly desired by some of the best graduate schools in the country; 75% of the students have gone on to pursue advanced degrees. The scholars were invited to present their research at the Howard University College of Medicine’s annual Biomedical Research Symposium. “The appreciation of the medical community on campus reflects the respect for the research culture developed in the nursing school,” Powell notes.

Deans Gilliss and Powell decided to bring their partnership program to the attention of the National Institutes of Health, in hopes of obtaining grant funding that would help them continue and expand the project. The agency was so impressed with the program that it agreed to provide funding for five years. In 2001, the NIH identified the Yale-Howard Scholars Program as a model partnership program for developing a pool of minority nurse scientists who can contribute to the elimination of health disparities. Since then, the program has provided a prototype for seven similar nursing school Partnership Center initiatives throughout the United States. (See page TK.)

The two deans agree that the benefits to both universities are great. “We have truly benefited from the relationship with faculty at Howard University, such as [learning from them] how to access [minority] participants for research studies and breach barriers in hard to reach populations,” Gilliss says. Adds Powell, “Yale’s influence helped us cultivate a research culture and a capacity for scientific education. We are experiencing an increase in applications to our undergraduate and graduate schools, attracting more students and faculty interested in research. And we are experiencing an increase in funding for research projects as well.”

Yale, which does not have an undergraduate nursing program, has also gained much from the fresh perspectives and cultural diversity that the BSN students from Howard bring to the campus. “Our faculty are more aware of how their scientific work can and should impact health disparities,” Gilliss explains. “It is exciting to have these extraordinary students on campus. There has been an increase in our graduate school admissions as well as an increase in faculty applications. Nationally, we are being recognized as an institution that values diversity in our faculty and student populations and that welcomes diversity of thought, culture and country of origin.”

Gilliss’ excitement is shared by the Howard scholars who have participated in the initiative, including the most recent group of four students who attended the summer 2002 program. The scholars are immersed in graduate- and doctoral-level culture. The seminars and networking events they attend pull them into the world of research and enable them to experience what happens at the higher levels of learning.

“I learned so much at Yale. It was an awesome experience,” recalls McKnight, who graduated from Howard University in 2002 and will be attending graduate school in the fall at George Mason University in Virginia. She wants to teach and, ultimately, become a nurse scientist conducting research in minority communities. “I am more critical of research studies now,” she says. “You can’t take the numbers at face value. You have to look at the sample used in the study.

“The partnership with Yale is opening doors for us,” McKnight continues. “We need more partnerships like this! This was a new experience for me as a person of color and as a student. I am excited to get involved so I can make sure that research is representative of and real for the minority population.”

McKnight says the hands-on research experience she acquired at Yale helped her truly understand what being a nurse scientist is all about. “The internship at Yale has opened my eyes to the possibilities,” she comments. “It has given me a greater understanding of how research works and how projects are determined worthy for funding. Research makes sense; without research, how will we know how new medicines, for example, impact our [minority] community if the members of our community are not involved in the research studies? Research is so important to our future and it is a critical part of nursing. We’re the ones who are on the front lines with the patient. Patients trust us. Our population needs us.”

Mentoring Nurses Toward Success

Mentoring Nurses Toward Success

Perhaps you are a newly graduated nurse. Maybe you’re an experienced nurse assuming a new position. Or perhaps you’re looking for a little guidance as you investigate new nursing roles. What all of these situations have in common is a need to learn the ropes of a new position. One effective avenue is mentoring.

Jill is a new RN who had been seeking a nurse position in her home state. With today’s wilting economy, she was unable to find a suitable position, so she ventured into a new territory and accepted a position in her chosen specialty, medical-surgical nursing. She felt fortunate to have found a position at a medical center about 200 miles from her family.

Jill is encountering many new things at once: a new home, new city, new hospital, and new job. Sounds overwhelming, doesn’t it?

One of the reasons Jill selected the medical-surgical unit at her new hospital is because her interview with the nurse manager and the unit staff went so well. She found them to be welcoming, caring, friendly, professional, and patient-centered. Also high on her list of positives about the job was the unit’s mentoring program. Jill had the opportunity to interview with a mentor and mentee in the program, and it was this interview that sealed the deal for her decision to accept the position.

So what exactly is mentoring?

Mentoring is a reciprocal and collaborative learning relationship between two individuals with mutual goals and shared accountability for the success of the relationship. The mentor is the guide, expert, and role model who helps develop a new or less experienced mentee.

In many instances, mentoring is a spontaneous relationship that develops between two people. However, mentoring can also be successful when the mentor and mentee are paired or matched intentionally. This is often the case in health care facilities when a mentee transitions into a new role. The mentee is paired with an experienced nurse to learn a new position and develop in the role.

Mentoring is more than orientation or preceptorship, which may last a few weeks or through a three-month probationary period. The duration isn’t cast in stone; it is an ongoing relationship that will last as long as the mentor and mentee find meaning and value in it.

A mentoring relationship can occur at any phase of an individual’s career, whether a new graduate, an experienced nurse assuming a nurse manager or clinical nurse specialist position, or an established clinician taking on a leadership position as the chairperson of a shared governance council. Some nurses may also become a mentor themselves one day, using their knowledge, wisdom, and experience to provide meaningful learning experiences for a mentee.

Mentoring is a partnership between the mentor as a teacher and the mentee as a learner. As adult learners, mentees are responsible for their own learning and behaviors. As teachers, mentors act as guides or facilitators of learning.

Each of us has numerous opportunities throughout our lives to be new at something, and it isn’t always a pleasant experience. There is fear of the unknown, uncertain confidence, fear of making a mistake, and just the uncomfortable feeling of not being in control. We’ve all been there and will be there again at some point. In the role of a mentor, it is very helpful to remember what it was like being new to a position or task. It helps to get in the frame of reference of the mentee.

Novice to expert continuum

Patricia Benner, Ph.D., R.N., in her book From Novice to Expert: Excellence and Power in Clinical Nursing Practice, says learning new skills requires a progression through stages or levels. These levels are novice, advanced beginner, competent, proficient, and expert.

When nurses take on new and unfamiliar roles, they often begin at the novice stage. Novices use rules and facts to guide their actions. They adhere to these rules without consideration for the context of the situation. It is difficult for a novice to put all of the parts together and see the whole picture. They are concerned with the tasks at hand and often cannot do more than one thing at a time.

Most novices want to feel and be seen as competent immediately upon taking on a new role. It is uncomfortable knowing one does not have a firm grasp of the position. Mentors and mentees must remember that learning new skills is a process that takes time. Both individuals must be patient during this formative time and realize what’s occurring is normal.

With time and experience, novice nurses continue to experience the real world and progress to the advanced beginner and higher levels of the continuum. Mentors can continue to play a significant role in the mentees’ progression.

Mentees

Mentees will become successful in their roles more quickly when they listen actively to what is going on and are willing to soak up as much learning as possible. Mentors are a rich source of knowledge—they’ve been there, done that, and learned the critical pieces to perform successfully. Thus, mentees can gain a tremendous amount from an effective mentoring relationship.

Successful mentoring relationships are built upon trust, openness to self-disclosure, affirmation, and willingness and skill in giving and receiving feedback. Mentoring involves a significant expenditure of time and energy on the part of the mentor and especially the mentee. Living up to promises and commitments to each other is extremely important to the relationship.

Mentees learn to achieve a balance between their own independence and reliance on the mentor. Over time, the independence will most likely dominate and the relationship will change.

After experiencing an effective mentoring relationship, mentees often feel refueled and inspired to make a difference in their practice. Other benefits of mentoring for the mentee include:

  • Increased self-confidence
  • Enhanced leadership skills
  • Accelerated acclimation to the culture of the unit/facility
  • Advancement opportunities
  • Enhanced communication skills, especially with the interdisciplinary team
  • Reduced stress
  • Improved networking ability
  • Political savvy
  • Legal and ethical insight

Mentors

Time seems to be the most precious commodity these days. Potential mentors may feel they don’t have the time to spend on a mentoring relationship, especially when they have a full workload themselves. However, the time invested in mentoring a nurse transitioning to a new role is time well spent for the mentor and mentee, as well as the unit and facility. It is a huge contribution to advancing the future of nursing.

Mentors help mentees learn the ropes, their role, the political environment, and the culture of the unit or organization in a formal—yet unstructured—way. They create a warm and accepting environment that allows mentees to control the relationship, while at the same time allowing mentees to be themselves and voice relevant needs and concerns. Mentors are personable, approachable, reasonable, and competent individuals committed to helping mentees achieve the success of which they are capable.

Effective mentors are confident enough in their own knowledge, skills, and successes that they do not perceive mentees or their accomplishments as threatening. They are committed to seeking situations that will benefit the mentees’ development.

Mentors provide their mentees with insights that would otherwise have been gained only through trial and error. They ask a lot of questions—especially “Why?”—which encourages mentees to stop and reflect on situations and potential alternatives. Mentors are good at linking different bits and pieces of their mentees’ lives, such as work and home, thoughts and feelings, successes and failures. They try to look at the bigger picture and the future. Mentors help their mentees grow in their critical-thinking skills and progress along the novice to expert continuum.

Potential problems with mentoring

Not every relationship is successful. This can be true of a mentoring relationship as well. Sometimes the interpersonal dynamics or the match between mentor and mentee just doesn’t work. One partner might grow faster than the other or in a different direction, and a strain on the relationship may occur.

One common problem is the lack of follow-up and commitment to sustain the relationship. Mentors might overburden the mentee with work and responsibilities and vice versa. Mentees may become a clone of the mentor and lose their individuality. They may also become too dependent on their mentors. An unfavorable incident may occur in which the mentor or mentee feels let down or betrayed. Jealousy and personal or ethical disagreements can also strain the relationship.

There is also the case of toxic mentors who are detrimental to the success of their mentees. Toxic mentors may be unavailable or inaccessible to mentees or may throw the mentees to the wolves to either sink or swim. Toxic mentors may also block the mentees’ progress or criticize them in various non-constructive ways.

Both mentors and mentees can learn from the problems others have encountered in the mentoring relationship. If signs of these problems begin to develop, both individuals have a responsibility to confront the situation and actively plan a resolution or dissolution.

Prior to entering into a mentoring relationship, both parties should agree to a no-fault separation if one or both individuals realize the relationship is not working.

Mentoring facilitates professional growth

Mentoring has proven to be a successful way of facilitating the professional growth and development of recently graduated nurses and other nurses transitioning to a new role.

The Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses (AMSN) has long recognized the value of mentoring for nurses in the acute care setting. AMSN has recently evolved its long-standing Nurses Nurturing Nurses (N3) mentoring program into a self-directed format that provides the tools for designing a successful mentoring program of your own, whether you are a mentor, mentee, or a mentoring program coordinator.

The AMSN Mentoring Program is provided on a complimentary basis on the AMSN website. The program contains a Mentor Guide, Mentee Guide, Site Coordinator Guide, and an Introduction to Mentoring” article. You may use and customize the information and tools provided in any manner you deem appropriate for your facility or yourself.

Need-to-Know Advice for Mentors and Mentees

Tips for Mentors

  • Exhibit exemplary/role model behavior.
  • Recognize and encourage potential.
  • Monitor your mentee’s progress and provide helpful feedback.
  • Introduce your mentee to coworkers, physicians, and other significant individuals.
  • Offer guidance in the customs/culture of the unit/organization.
  • Build a relationship of trust.
  • Discuss the confidential basis of the relationship.
  • Live up to promises and commitments.
  • Publicly praise your mentee’s accomplishments and abilities.
  • Provide support in times of personal crises or problems.
  • Assist in making decisions through listening, support, and feedback. Ask “why?”
  • Share appropriate life experiences to personalize and enrich the mentoring experience.
  • Encourage your mentee to take risks and learn from mistakes.
  • Agree to a no-fault termination of the relationship if it isn’t working or when the time is right.

Tips for Mentees

  • Assume responsibility for your own learning and growth.
  • Seek challenging assignments and responsibilities.
  • Be receptive to and ask for feedback. Also, give constructive feedback to your mentor.
  • Live up to promises and commitments.
  • Articulate your professional and learning needs to your mentor.
  • Ask questions. Share concerns.
  • Be prepared for meetings with your mentor.
  • Discuss your long-range career planning with your mentor.
  • Ask for advice/feedback on handling difficult situations/behaviors.
  • Discuss clinical decisions that are made.
  • Progressively increase the independence in your role.
  • Honor the confidentiality of the relationship.
  • Agree to a no-fault termination of the relationship if it isn’t working or when the time is right.

© 2012 The Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses. All rights reserved.