This is a guest post from one of our amazing NurseGrid Ambassadors, Lydia Tucker RN, BSN.
As a relatively new nurse who’s still finding her place, I spend a lot of time learning from those around me and thinking about who I want to be as I settle into my career. Despite the wealth of articles and academic research on the importance of mentorship in nursing and the significant downsides when nurses "eat their young," mentorship is often not assigned enough importance in the development of new talent when other priorities take over. Despite that, I’ve been fortunate to receive wonderful guidance from nurses who have valued the roles of teaching and mentorship enough to make a difference in my own journey. No matter what career you find yourself in, from corporate leadership and management to an entry-level role in an organization, setting an example as a leader and role model starts with displaying a willingness to develop and guide those around you.
I chose a career in Critical Care not only because of the passion I have for this area but also because of the value that’s placed on teamwork and collaboration among physicians and nurses at the bedside and in care planning. Working in a teaching hospital, I’m able to observe resident physicians round and participate with the staff and experience successes and failures alongside all of us. As nurses, we’re also tasked with the responsibility of orienting new staff and being preceptors to upcoming nursing students as they narrow down areas of interest after licensure. The experience and example provided can greatly influence the future of these budding talents.
A large part of setting a positive example is the quality of being authentic. Those who need support and guidance will often look to someone they view as being genuinely interested in their development and willing to offer constructive feedback. Another quality is the ability to learn from failures as much as, if not more than, touting successes. In nursing and medicine in general, mistakes happen, sometimes with life-threatening consequences. Resiliency and growing from mistakes is key to survival and becoming a respected clinician.
In addition, know when to ask for help and when to offer help. Whether you have twenty years of experience or two months, you’re going to encounter situations you’re unable to handle on your own. In the same way, don’t be intimidated to offer help to those you assume can manage anything thrown their way. Sometimes the best opportunities to make connections are found when you become someone they didn’t know they needed.
Guiding and developing those around you also means investing in yourself. Becoming a leader is not an end goal but a lifelong ladder. Show a willingness to learn from those who are learning from you. Ask them what you could be doing differently to make their experience a positive one. Encourage questions and ideas from those who come from the outside and see things through a different lens. Develop real connections on a human level that will enrich your relationship and encourage trust.
Finally, be grateful. We’ve all accomplished something in our lives that can be credited to someone along the way who encouraged and supported us in our dreams and goals. Ultimately, those people also provided an example of who we wanted to be some day. Everyone is a result of countless influences in their lives and we have the opportunity to have that same impact every day. Being a positive example is a choice we can make in our actions and a privilege of achieving a position of influence. Be grateful for the people who want to learn from you and give them something to aspire to.
How do you mentor new nurses on your unit or benefit from mentorship yourself? Let us know in the comments below!