5 The importance of your relationships with others
Nurses may engage in two very different types of mentoring relationship.
The first is often found among more experienced members of the nursing profession, who seek out another experienced colleague to act as a support and sounding board for their career development. These informal relationships may last for a year or longer, but typically reach a natural point of conclusion when one or both members of the relationship feel that there is no further gain to be achieved.
The second is the relationship between mentor and nursing student. This has defined start and finish points, and typically lasts for considerably less than a year. Whether you are in a mentoring relationship with a colleague or with nursing students or both, each will open you to new experiences and learning of your own. Whether you are inexperienced as a mentor or have some experience in the role, you will continue to benefit from the support and guidance of more masterly colleagues, so do seek out your own support networks.
Activity 7 Identifying and building your own support network
Watch the interview with Charlie Austin, a practice development nurse at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital. She describes the types of support for mentors that her own organisation has already put in place along with ideas for other types of support that might also prove useful.
Now develop an action plan for yourself that shows how you plan to address your own ongoing need for guidance. This could include identification of a personal mentor, who will continue to offer you support and feedback as your mentor role develops.
If you have identified a personal mentor, you could share your action plan with them and seek advice about other useful contacts within your organisation. Add these to your plan if they sound useful to you.
There is an increasing awareness of the support that is needed by mentors to enable them to deliver their mentoring role effectively, so you may be surprised by the opportunities that are available to assist you in forming your own supportive relationships.
You will continue to develop and refine your mentoring skills through practice and experience. At some point it is likely that your manager, a continuing professional development nurse, a clinical educator or another colleague with responsibility for organising and supporting students’ practice learning experiences, will feel that you are ready to become a sign-off mentor.
In preparation for this role you might find it useful to read through the following sections ofin order to understand the purpose of the role and the criteria that must be met before undertaking this role:
- Page 12: revisions to the standards relating to the sign-off mentor role
- Page 16: roles to support learning and assessing in practice
- Page 17: fitness for practice
- Pages 27–8: criteria for a sign-off mentor.
Talk to your mentor if you have one and find out how the process of becoming a sign-off mentor is delivered within your organisation. You should add the contact details of the relevant individuals or team responsible for supporting sign-off mentor preparation to your action plan for future reference.