How to Mentor a First-Time Nurse

How to Mentor a First-Time Nurse

If you’re a seasoned nurse, you’ve probably dealt with your fair share of recent nursing school grads and new hires looking to find their way in the world of healthcare. In some cases, you may need to serve as a mentor to these younger nurses as they navigate the ins and outs of working as a RN. If you’re tasked with helping a young nurse, you have to find a way to challenge them while still giving them the support they need to succeed.  Learn more about mentoring a recent nursing school grad.

Let Them Find Their Way

You have to wear multiple hats when you’re mentoring a new nurse. You have to supervise them to make sure they don’t unintentionally harm a patient or cause irreparable damage, but you can’t simply hold their hand the whole time either. If this person is going to survive as a RN, they need to learn how to think for themselves. Otherwise, they might get too attached to your mentorship as they struggle to make decisions on their own.

It’s best to let your recent nursing school grad find their own way. Give them the space to figure out some things on their own. Ask questions instead of telling them what to do all day. Stay close by in case they make a mistake. New hires tend to ingest rules and procedures at face value without understanding the context of their actions. Help them understand the purpose of their actions to help them learn. They’re bound to get overwhelmed at a certain point, and that’s okay. Nursing is stressful, so let your mentee experience the job for what it is.

Praise Their Accomplishments, Large and Small

As tough as this training period can be for new hires, don’t forget to praise your mentee when they make the right decision. Even something as small as cleaning a piece of equipment or keeping their workspace organized demands praise. You can be hard on new hires without withholding praise entirely. Find the right balance between supervisor and mentor. If you praise certain behavior, your mentee will develop the right work habits.

Use a Sink-or-Swim Approach

At the end of the day, you will be one of the few people that decide if this person deserves a spot as a RN at your healthcare facility. If you believe, after observing and mentoring this person for some time, that they are not cut out to be a nurse, you’ll need to present plenty of examples to your supervisor to make your case. Sometimes, cutting someone loose is the best choice for your facility and the health of your patients.

But if your mentee is here to stay, your mentorship doesn’t have to end with the orientation period. Use your experience to turn them into an extraordinary nurse. Continue correcting them and improving their abilities on the job. Being a nurse means being on your toes and constantly dealing with the unexpected. But when times get tough and your mentee loses a patient, reach out to this younger nurse and give them the emotional and mental support they need to keep going.

Mentoring a recent nursing school grad can be a rewarding experience. Work with these new hires to help them realize their full potential.