Nurses Week:The Responsibility of Mentorship

by Angela Brooks

During Nurses Week 2011 let us rededicate ourselves as nurses who are passionate about what we do and passionate about the lives entrusted to us.  With those lives, those patients we serve, we have experiences to share and stories to tell.  That fact alone qualifies us and holds us responsible as educators and mentors to other nurses.

As a new grad, I was assigned a preceptor during my orientation to hospital nursing.  I relied on her to teach me everything she knew…which of course was an impossibility during my short six week orientation.  I watched her every move.  I asked questions and during our breaks I would encourage her to tell me stories of her nursing career. I would ask, “Who was your most difficult patient?” and “How do you deal with family members when they are upset?” I watched, I listened and I learned.  But it was not just my preceptor who taught me new skills.

Other nurses were invaluable to my education.  I quickly learned that everyone had their own tried and true routines. Every nurse danced her own dance and sang her own song, yet all performed their duties with protocol in mind and professionalism. I often watched their moves and techniques from afar and I respected each and every one of them for their dedication to the art of nursing.

Of course, some staff members were not as willing to fill in as additional teachers to me.  I learned which nurses were open to mentoring and which ones I needed to avoid.  Unfortunately, some of the nurses with the most experience and skills were the nurses who lacked the patience to share their wealth of knowledge with me.

Eventually, I gained respect from my team members.  We came to know and understand one another.  We became friends and true colleagues and yet I could not shake the memory of those who had helped me to become the nurses I was meant to be …and those who had not.

I learned a great lesson from my early years in nursing.  I learned that each and every nurse is a teacher in one way or another.  I learned that new grads (or nurses who are new to our nursing units) need our passion to be instilled within them so they, too, can become the nurses they were meant to be.  

During Nurses Week 2011, let us remember to be dedicated enough to educate those who cross our paths and let us be responsible enough to care for those people who enter our profession.  After all, nursing is about caring, and we’re all pretty good at that!

Janet Izzo RN Stained glass windowsAbout the Author Janet Izzo, RN, she is a registered nurse in the State of Minnesota and a member of the Minnesota Nurses Association. She is an inspirational speaker and author of "Hotel Hennepin" which chronicles her experiences working in a large county hospital in the heart of Minneapolis. The stories Janet relates in Hotel Hennepin are poignant, sad and hysterically funny, but all are amazingly true! She is passionate about the nursing profession and she now speaks to nurses and nursing students across the nation on the topic "Nurses Can Make the Difference."

Angela Brooks is a retired nurse after 25 years in mental health. She used her lunch breaks to build her business part time on the night shift. Her car became a mobile university as she listened to business training, coaching calls on CD and phone webinars. She blogged while she was at her sons' baseball practices.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Paul Crowson May 12, 2011 at 6:42 am

Reading Janets article on learning the ropes, brought my memories back. Being a male RN, it was a barrier in some scenarios. Fortunately in the beginning, it was a very large institution. But in other later settings over 25 years it wasn't so easy. Want to forget the negative ones. Now on the other end, I train new nurses, not forgetting those situations, so I can hopefully prepare new nurses well, we really need good new nurses with good attitudes!

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