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September 2011, Volume 41 Number 9 , p 53 - 55


  • Pamela Woodfine MSN, RN


THE FUTURE of the nursing profession relies on effectively recruiting and retaining novice nurses. According to Pellico and col-leagues, from 18% to 50% of new graduates leave the nursing pro-fession within their first year of employment.1The transition from nursing student to professional nurse is a culture change as well as a reality shock for most new nurses. Clinical instructors' support and guidance are no longer available; new nurses must now learn to navigate on their own. This can be a very emotional and stressful transition.It takes at least 12 months for new graduates to develop into comfortable and confident nurses, given support and opportunities for professional development.2 Effectively mentoring novice nurses one-on-one increases competency, patient safety, and commitment, which can in turn improve retention.2 This article des-cribes the mentoring process and the qualities a mentor needs. But first, consider the mentor's role.Although they're similar, preceptors and mentors have different roles. A preceptor acts as a coach and teacher in a limited time frame. In contrast, a mentor helps a nurse seeking professional growth to make transitions, provides ongoing advice and support, shares values, and models professionalism.3 Mentoring, as defined by Shelia Grossman, an author of a book on this topic, "is a guided experience, formally or informally assigned, that empowers the mentor and mentee to develop personally and professionally within the auspices of a caring, collaborative, culturally competent and respected environment."4Preceptors, on the other hand, are assigned for a defined period to orient new nurses and new graduates. Novice nurses have needs that extend beyond the orientation period and will benefit more from a mentor than from a preceptor in their overall professional growth.Experienced nurses who want to be mentors require orientation and training in the mentoring role, including the five core competencies. (See Getting to the core of competency.)The

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