Why Be a Mentor?

The following is the first in a three-part series on mentorship in nursing and health professions education. As faculty turnover increases due to retirement and other factors, many young professors need help making the transition from clinical practice to a life in academia. Mentorship is key to helping the next generation of educators get acclimated to their new role. Click these links to view part two and part three.

Mentoring allows individuals (professionals, students, et al.) to form purposeful relationships on a deeper level. In a mentoring relationship, the mentee and mentor develop plans for the mentee’s growth. They partner to address strengths and potential weaknesses that may arise, and continuously consider the integration of the evidence base into the mentee’s practice. Overall, the goal is professional development of the mentee and successful integration into the organizational community. This discussion focuses on the benefits faculty can reap from the mentoring process.

The benefits are many for the dedicated mentor. Mentors often experience an improvement in their own personal practice as a result of the mentorship. By consistently encouraging the mentee to pursue growth, the mentor is also challenged to reflect and develop as an educator. For example, as the mentor encourages the mentee to develop and nurture relationships with students, the mentee is more likely to do the same. This outcome helps build validity when one’s rhetoric matches their practice.

Another benefit is related to being a part of positive growth in another person. The positive feelings of accomplishment for the mentor will reduce stress and improve overall wellbeing and coping. An attitude of positivity and assuming the role of transformational leader promotes success in the mentor. Professionally, mentors develop skills not only needed to succeed as a mentor, but also as an educator and beyond. These skills become valuable assets.

Personally, the skills developed by the mentor help with life management. This relationship fosters problem-solving skills, coping skills, and also provides for a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. The wellbeing that comes from mentoring also aids in the pursuit of an ideal work-life balance. When individuals are managing life well (especially faculty), they are able to offer more to the organizational community.

Next, the mentor serves as a role model not only for the mentee, but also for other faculty. This role modeling helps others begin to visualize how they may contribute By observing the mentor-mentee relationship, others are empowered to pursue personal and professional growth. They may even decide that they would like to develop the skills needed to be a mentor and pursue that role.

When mentoring is valued by a program, there is an overall perception that faculty development is a priority. Many faculty connect their satisfaction (or lack thereof) with the program and administration to faculty development support. When faculty mentor others, they contribute positively to building the community of educators and fostering a culture of lifelong learning. Creating a positive community culture can affect outcomes and retention not only for students, but for faculty as well.

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Tim Bristol,


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