Mentoring in your nursing career

How mentoring can be good for your nursing career

By Daniel Allard

Looking for ways to develop your career? In any nursing job, mentoring from a more experienced colleague can not only improve your professional practice. It can also help you take your nursing career to the next level. "Being mentored is believed to have an important influence on personal development, career guidance and career choice." That was the conclusion of a 2018 review by researchers at the Sydney Medical School, published by The Association for the Study of Medical Education. We're all well aware of the benefits of peer mentoring in helping nurses learn and embed high standards in their day-to-day work. What's not so much talked about is the vital role mentoring can play in giving you the skills and confidence to take on new nursing roles and responsibilities. With this in mind, we've put together a few tips to help you make sure your mentoring programme supports your career progression as well as your professional practice.

Embrace the potential

Be ready to take on board ideas and suggestions. Your mentor can help open doors to new learning and career opportunities. He or she can also help you identify your career goals and deal with any issues which might be holding you back from achieving them.

Share your dreams

Don't be too modest. If you're ambitious about your career, be confident and say exactly where you want to be in five years' time. Your mentor can only help you achieve your goals if he or she knows what they are. Honesty and openness are always important if you want to achieve a successful mentoring relationship.

Be prepared

Whenever you meet with your mentor, have an agenda. Prepare questions and discussion topics so that the meeting is focused and productive. If you're considering moving into a particular nursing specialisation or a management role, do some research into what's involved so that you know what to ask your mentor.

Listen to feedback

You don't have to accept everything your mentor has to say, but you should trust in their experience and at least hear them out. If he or she doesn't think a particular career move is right for you, listen to their reasons and take the time to think about them. If you still feel they're wrong, that's fine, but at least you've given their concerns due consideration.

Develop a wider network

Your mentor may not be an expert in the field you're keen to work in. However, he or she may know someone who is. Ask them to recommend or put you in contact with colleagues who can give you more information. Maybe they belong to a networking group or social media forum that you can also join? Or maybe they can suggest useful sources of information that you aren't aware of? Remember, developing your career successfully is often a matter of who you know as well as what you know.

We have written a selection of pieces around starting and navigating your nursing career.