The Power of Mentorship in Nursing

Mature female doctor discusses patient care with nurse - stock photo

The foundation of the nursing profession is working together toward a common goal. Very few nurses work solo, and even fewer get to where they are alone. Additionally, research shows that employees with a strong workplace mentorship report significantly higher job satisfaction than those without mentors.1

Let's dive into the different types of nursing mentorship and the benefits of having a nursing mentor.

In This Article:

What Is a Nurse Mentor?

A nurse mentor is an experienced healthcare professional, typically a registered nurse, who supports a nursing student or new graduate nurse in their academic and professional journey. A nurse mentor can take many forms — a teacher, a classmate or a colleague — and can be formal or informal.

  • Formal mentorship in nursing can also be called a preceptorship or internship, where a new nurse is paired with an experienced nurse by their employer or an organization for the duration of their job training, probationary period or membership.
  • Informal mentorships are often forged through social and professional connections and are more casual, but can be equally valuable and supportive for a new nurse.

The importance of having nursing mentors is to create a safe place to learn and grow. Once you join the professional nursing world, having a nurse mentor can help with career and educational advancement.1

Benefits of a Nursing Mentor

Having a nursing mentor can provide valuable guidance and support, helping novice nurses develop their clinical skills and adapt to the demands of the healthcare environment. Additionally, mentorship can help foster professional growth, enhancing confidence and job satisfaction while ensuring quality patient care.1

Here are a few benefits of a nursing mentor relationship:

1. Accelerated Learning: There are few shortcuts in nursing, but having a nursing mentor may help save headaches and sleepless nights worrying if you changed a bandage properly or started that IV correctly. A nurse mentor may be available to provide timely answers to your questions and offer prompt feedback on patient care. A mentor may also be able to better demonstrate crucial nursing skills than a YouTube video can, and for experienced nurses, mentorship may allow them to revisit nursing skills that have become routine and habit over time.

2. Career Guidance: Another opportunity for mentorship in nursing is when you apply for your first nursing job. A nurse mentor can help you identify what nursing skills you excel at and what nursing specialties you might enjoy the most. They can help identify future opportunities in nursing and help you decide on the best path to achieve those goals.

3. Emotional Support: Nurse mentors may also play a crucial role in providing emotional support. Nursing can be an emotional career, and it’s not until you experience it yourself that you know what to expect and how to cope. Speaking with a nurse mentor ahead of time may help prepare you for some of the unexpected challenges you may face while also building your confidence as a new nurse.

4. Networking: There is no rule saying you can only have one mentor. Networking can help you find and expand your group of mentors. According to Harvard Business Review, networking can also increase your job opportunities, enhance your knowledge and improve job satisfaction.2 According to a survey by Zippia, 85% of job opportunities come from your personal or professional network.3

But networking doesn’t always come easy. Some people are natural networkers, but for others, networking may need to be a more intentional process. Finding a nurse mentor may require additional legwork beyond attending nursing school clinicals. It requires patience, persistence and routine follow-up to find the right mentor who can help to guide you in achieving your nursing goals. 

How To Find a Nursing Mentor

Finding a nurse mentor can be a daunting task, especially while trying to navigate the busy schedule of a nurse. However, many resources are available to help you find a nurse mentor.

Here are a few of the top tips for finding a nursing mentor through networking:4

  • Connect on social media: Platforms like LinkedIn and nursing-specific forums can be great resources for finding mentors. You can contact experienced nurses who share your interests and seek their guidance. Going online can also allow you to connect with nursing professionals worldwide.
  • Volunteer: Local health clinics or athletic events like 5k races often need medical professionals. Nursing students may be able to help with simple tasks such as checking vitals and taking health histories.
  • Attend conferences: With hundreds of nurses under one roof, conferences can offer an opportunity to find potential mentors.
  • Join professional organizations: Nursing organizations, like the American Nurses Association (ANA) Mentoring Hub, U.S. Nurse Corps Scholarship Program and National Student Nurses Association (NSNA), offer nursing mentor programs specifically designed for recent graduates. These programs can pair you with a mentor based on your goals and interests and connect you with experienced nurse leaders who can guide career development and leadership skills.5,6,7
  • Local hospitals and healthcare facilities: Look into major healthcare providers in your area for opportunities at facilities where you may be doing clinical rotations or seeking employment. Many healthcare systems and hospitals have their own mentorship programs with experienced nurses working in these settings who are open to mentoring aspiring nurses.

Before reaching out to a potential nurse mentor, complete a self-assessment of what you hope to achieve from the mentorship relationship. Once you identify one or several potential mentors, be open and share your short and long-term nursing goals with your mentor.

Mentors Can Enhance Your Nursing Journey

Mentorship in nursing can be a great resource for those who earn an accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) degree. The guidance, support and wisdom gained from an experienced nurse mentor can make a difference in your academic and professional journey and can potentially increase your job satisfaction.1 

Remember that mentorship in nursing is a two-way street. Be proactive about mentorship opportunities and be willing to invest time and effort to pursue and maintain these professional connections. Your dedication to personal and professional growth, coupled with the guidance of a mentor, can potentially lead to a career in nursing that you find fulfilling.

Complete the form on this page to connect with a Grand Canyon University counselor and learn about the numerous nursing and healthcare degree opportunities available for aspiring nurses.

1 Wronski, L., & Cohen, J. (2019, July 16). Nine in 10 workers who have a career mentor say they are happy in their jobs. CNBC. Retrieved Oct 28, 2023.

2 Gino, F., Kouchaki, M., & Casciaro, T. (2023, Aug. 4). Learn to love networking. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved Oct 28, 2023.

3 Flynn, J. (2023, May 12). 25+ important networking statistics [2023]: The power of connections in the Workplace. Zippia. Retrieved Oct 28, 2023.

4 Walker, A. (2018, May 24). 10 networking tips for nurses who hate networking. Retrieved Oct 28, 2023.

5 Welcome to ANA’s Mentoring Program - ANA Community. (n.d.). American Nurses Association. Retrieved Oct. 28, 2023.

6Apply to the Nurse Corps Scholarship Program. (n.d.). Health Resources & Services Administration. Bureau of Health Workforce. Retrieved Oct 28, 2023.

National Student Nurses Association. (n.d.). NSNA. Retrieved Oct 28, 2023.

Approved by the associate dean of the College of Nursing and Health Care Professions on Jan. 29, 2024.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.