|International Society of Plastic and Aesthetic Nurses
Christian Howell, RN, CPSN
At some point in your career, you may be asked to become a mentor. You could be formally approached by someone looking for a mentor, also known as a protégé. You may find that a friendship with a colleague evolves over time to a mentoring relationship.
If you've benefited from a good relationship with a mentor, you know that mentoring can make a very positive impact in a nurse's career.
What is Mentoring?
Mentors are experienced, trusted advisors or counsellors who have successful careers and proven track records. As a mentor, your role will be to:
- Make a commitment to support and encourage your mentee.
- Encourage your mentee to develop career choices that reflect their skills, potential and goals.
- Offer wisdom knowledge, experience, constructive criticism, connections and resources.
- Focus on the overall career directions like advancement and training rather than on day-to-day concerns of your mentee.
- Set an example for the level of professional conduct and success your mentee hopes to achieve.
What's important is that some aspect of your approach to your career, such as personal skills or problem solving abilities, makes you worth learning from.
People become mentor for a variety of reasons. You may:
- Have benefited from a relationship with a mentor and want to pass that benefit on to others.
- Want to give back to your organization or profession.
- Want to build a reputation for developing a new talent or passion.
- Value the perspective you gain by seeing yourself, your profession and your career through your mentee’s eyes.
Mentoring can help you stay current, bring new energy to your professional career and expand your network in new directions, keeping it fresh.
Who will you Mentor?
You want a mentee who will demonstrate high standards of trustworthiness, professionalism, ethics and confidentiality. Your mentee should be a good listener, enthusiastic about self-improvement, able to accept constructive criticism and willing to make the most of the time and energy you offer. Remember, your mentee’s actions will reflect on you.
Be cautious before you agree to mentor someone:
- Don't agree to mentor someone you’ve never met.
- If your organization has a mentoring program, accept a mentee assigned to you only if you feel it is right.
Learn about your prospective mentee by asking people in your network, googling the mentee and checking out the mentee’s profile on business and social networking sites.
If you do not think you can effectively mentor an individual, tell that person so that neither of your wastes time.
How do you manage the mentoring process?
Expect a mentee to describe his or her:
- Strengths, weaknesses and goals.
- Ideas, conflicts and decisions.
- Reasons for wanting to learn from you.
Each mentoring relationship will be different. Typically, the process will involve you as the mentor.
- Talking about your mistakes as well as you successes.
- Sharing what you wish you’d known when you were starting out.
- Connecting your mentee to others who can be helpful and supportive.
- Offering insight into how you make decision, resolve conflicts and plan for the future.
- Seeing things from your mentee’s point of view while providing feedback form your perspective.
As a mentor, you decide when, where and how you want the mentoring process to continue. Think about these questions:
- Do you want to meet on an ad hoc basis or set specific times to meet?
- Will you guide your mentee by setting tasks and expecting outcome or by sharing your approaches through conversations?
- Will you evaluate the process formally on paper or informally by periodically checking to make sure the relationship continues to meet each other's needs?
Over time, your mentee’s career will evolve and he or she may no longer need you as a mentor. At that point you can congratulate yourself on having been an effective mentor. Your relationship may evolve into a friendship.
Rewards on mentoring
Becoming a mentor can be a rewarding outcome of your own successful career. Be wise about who you choose to mentor. Set clear boundaries about what you expect. If you are open, ethical and supportive, you will establish a relationship with your mentee that will continue to be a source of inspiration for both of you.
Christian Howell, RN CPSN
Nurse Clinician & Cosmetic Nurse Injector
Columbia Facial Plastic Surgery
Journal for Nurses in staff development.
Volume 23 Number 5, 201-211.
A Model of Caring Mentorship for Nursing. September/October 2007.
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