Preceptorship and Mentorship
Preceptorship and mentorship are immensely valuable to nursing.
Preceptors and mentors provide life-long lessons to new graduates
and younger nurses that ensure the quality of knowledge within the
nursing profession will remain strong for years to come. Making
programs like preceptorship and mentorship available also demonstrates
an organizational commitment to nursing that provides a high level
of job satisfaction.
Nurses have a responsibility to constantly advance their abilities
and knowledge to be able to provide patient care that is increasingly
complex. This responsibility includes sharing their skills with
new nurses or students so that future generations of nurses are
also able to provide superior care. This professional development
can be provided through a comprehensive preceptorship program that
takes place with the support of employers.
Preceptors help guide the transition and integration of nursing
students into the nursing workforce. They support the development
of clinical competence and confidence in a way that allows the junior
nurse to grow professionally, but also provides immense rewards
for the preceptor. By sharing their knowledge with junior nurses,
preceptors help improve job satisfaction, decrease orientation time
and have a direct impact on how well the nurse will perform on the
Precepting occurs in patient care situations, allowing the preceptor
to guide the student or new nurse through the procedures required
to provide the best care. This role is crucial to ensuring future
nurses can perform at a high level and with confidence in a clinical
setting, but it cannot take place without the support of workplaces
that are committed to their nursing staffs.
Managers, administrators, educators and health team members all
need to support a preceptorship program for it to be successful.
Management must offer support by allowing a preceptor to balance
the role with patient responsibilities, and clinical team members
must also be involved so that the needs of patient continue to be
met. Education that presents principles of adult education and as
well as instruction on developing learning objectives, teaching-learning
styles and giving feedback and evaluation must also be provided
for the preceptor. Preceptors also need opportunities for informal
education by networking with each other to share stories and strategies.
It is important for the organization to recognize that the hard
work of preceptors is a determining factor in positive job satisfaction
and commitment to the role. Support can come from provision of resources
and education to carry out the role, assistance with workloads,
or it can be more overt through recognition at employee events or
in organizational newsletter.
Mentorship provides another avenue for younger nurses to
develop strong relationships with senior nurses that contribute
to the development of both individuals and plays a role in the retention
of nurses within an organization. Mentors provide information, advice
and support to less senior nurses over an indefinite period of time.
Both the mentor and mentee invest a significant amount in the relationship
emotionally, allowing for self-directed growth and learning. Mentoring
provides many benefits, it can:
- Bridge the gap between theory and nursing practice.
- Provide guidance for transformational leadership.
- Enhance critical thinking and career development.
- Increase self-esteem, job enrichment and willingness to take
- Enhance productivity, managerial skills and a sense of professionalism.
- Act as a recruitment and retention strategy. Nurses who are
mentored are more likely to remain in their current position.
Despite mentorship’s many benefits, it faces some major hurdles.
There are fewer nurses in leadership positions to act as mentors.
The high number of part-time and casual nurses does not provide
a supportive environment for mentoring, yet mentoring has never
been more important as the approaching retirements of many senior
nurses means new nurses must be recruited. The emotional demand
of mentorship also makes it more difficult to recruit a nurse into
a mentorship role, particularly when those nurses already face higher
levels of stress treating patients with higher acuity levels.
To overcome these challenges, mentorship should be a key recruitment
and retention strategy. Individuals can support mentorship programs
by advocating for funds to develop programs, supporting mentorship
through continuing education and staff recognition, and by individually
seeking out mentors through networking opportunities, developing
working relationships and learning from more experienced nurses.
Nurses who participate in mentorship programs will provide better
patient care while increasing their own knowledge and professional
growth; participating in mentorship provides the opportunity for
life-long learning and helps retain and develop the best nurses
for today and tomorrow.
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