3 Examples of the Value of Mentoring in Healthcare

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Mentoring is key to the development of healthcare professionals and can play an important role in advancing the quality of care in the United States. Mentoring is defined as “a process whereby an experienced, highly regarded, empathetic person guides another individual in the development and reexamination of their own ideas, learning, and personal and professional developments,” according to a 2016 article in the Archives of International Surgery by Zayyan et al.

The following are three examples of how mentoring can help healthcare organizations develop clinical skills, improve care, and build better leaders.

Mentorship in the Nursing Profession

Mentorship offers many benefits and opportunities for the nursing profession, a critical component of the healthcare workforce. In a Nurses Week 2018 feature, Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) highlighted how mentorship impacted the careers of three nursing leaders. In this profession, mentors offer the following benefits:

  • Coaching: Mentors can function as coaches and cheerleaders throughout a nurse’s professional development. “A mentor’s positive attitude helps to inspire even when self-doubt creeps into one’s brain… the positive influence one experiences from an exceptional mentor will stay with that nurse forever,” states Michelle O’Neal, Clinical Faculty for Nursing Programs at SNHU.
  • Guidance: Mentors are excellent at providing thoughtful feedback, guidance, and support. “For me, a mentor has been the guiding light, a counselor, a teacher and another professional; who loves the nursing profession and has passion [to] see our profession grow,” explains Nicholas Carte, Graduate Lead Faculting Nursing and Health Professions at SNHU.
  • Inspiration: Mentors can inspire and influence a nurse’s career trajectory. “I have been fortunate enough to have mentors who have served as wonderful role models for the profession… emphasizing the importance of lifelong learning and continued leadership,” states Kristi Dalby, Lead Faculty for Undergraduate Nursing at SNHU.

Learning from Mentor Hospitals

Not only is mentorship beneficial in knowledge transfer within an organization or a department, but it is becoming a key tool in improving America’s healthcare as organizations learn from the success of others. Recognizing the unique value of learning from peers, the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) has identified more than 60 organizations to serve as Mentor Hospitals in the 100,000 Lives Campaign. These hospitals share a strong commitment to continuous improvement, success at making change, and an eagerness to share their insights. “They are high-achieving organizations with useful insights that can help others,” says Joe McCannon, 100,000 Lives Campaign Manager. “There is such a great spirit of sharing, whether it’s tools, protocols, forms, or ideas,” states Jo Ann Endo, IHI Communication Specialist. “There is enormous generosity, and the mentors seem to gain as much from the encounters as the people they are helping.”

Mentoring Tomorrow’s Healthcare Leaders

According to a 2010 article from the Journal of Healthcare Leadership, an important gift healthcare leaders can give to their profession is to serve as mentors for those who will lead healthcare organizations and institutions into the next decades. The literature demonstrates that mentoring programs can be very valuable to healthcare professionals assuming leadership roles. “Most important to the mentoring role is a passing of the torch, mentor to mentee, so that the mentee, in time, will take on the role of mentor to colleagues much younger in their professional lives,” researchers Joellen W Hawkins and Holly B Fontenot conclude in the article.

In conclusion, an effective mentorship program can help healthcare organizations prepare tomorrow’s workforce, share best practices across the industry, and develop healthcare leaders for success in the years to come.

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