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HealthMay 31, 2021

Mentorship during the pandemic: A community-based hospital’s approach

By: Sarah Handzel, BSN, RN
Nursing retention continues to pose problems for nurse and healthcare organizational leaders.

Many facilities have already implemented new graduate nurse residency programs, but these and other retention efforts have largely been neglected during the Covid-19 pandemic. However, stressors associated with Covid-19 have increased rates of feelings such as hopelessness and helplessness, leading more nurses to leave the profession.

Since transitioning into nursing practice is already stressful, nurse leaders must take steps to help new graduates prosper, even during trying events like a worldwide infectious disease outbreak. This is especially true in units such as medical/surgical, where turnover is typically higher anyway. One small, community-based hospital implemented a new nurse mentorship program to help address the needs of newly hired nurses, described in a recent article in Nursing Administration Quarterly.

Establishing a nursing mentorship program

The new mentorship program took place on eight med/surg units in a 300-bed, non-for-profit community hospital located in the Midwestern United States. Beginning in May 2020, the organization hired groups newly registered nurses onto med/surg units, pairing each with a mentor with at least one to two years’ experience working on the unit.

During the first week of employment, each new graduate nurse received a mentee guide as well as an introduction to their mentor and a mentor background information sheet. Each mentee met with their mentor at least biweekly and, when possible, each week. Mentees were also paired with preceptors for the duration of the unit orientation period.

The study authors determined the effectiveness of the mentorship program using four separate measures:

  • An intent-to-stay survey
  • A job satisfaction scale
  • A mentor program satisfaction survey
  • A mentee program satisfaction survey

Each survey included multiple questions gauging each participant’s feelings, degree of satisfaction regarding working the mentor/mentee, satisfaction with communication during the process, and contentment in both personal and professional development.

Nursing mentorship program successes

After three months, mentee’s program satisfaction scores trended slightly higher than previously reported means for the same time period. Job satisfaction also trended higher, but intent to stay was slightly lower compared to previous results. The study authors and nursing leadership considered these results to be encouraging, especially when considering the influence of the pandemic on staff nurses and the working environment.

As nurse retention, especially new nurse retention, continues to be problematic for healthcare organizations, new strategies are needed to help foster relationships and improve skill sets so the best nursing care is provided. Mentorship programs can be beneficial interventions to boost the nursing workforce and promote longer commitment to a specific job.

Sarah Handzel, BSN, RN
Freelance Health and Medical Content Writer, Wolters Kluwer Health
Sarah has over nine years’ experience in various clinical areas, including surgery, endocrinology, family practice, and pharmaceuticals. She began writing professionally in 2016 as a way to use her medical knowledge beyond the bedside to help educate and inform healthcare consumers and providers.

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