Travel Nursing March 22, 2017

Can Travel RNs Have Nurse Mentors?

Do you remember the nervousness you felt in those first few days as a new nurse?

Hopefully, your employer included you in a nurse mentoring program with an experienced nurse who could show you the ropes. Or you may have formed a good working relationship with a colleague who was willing to share his or her expertise.

Either way, your nurse mentor likely helped answer your questions and offered the support you needed to gain proficiency in your clinical skills and gain confidence as a nurse.

But mentoring isn’t just for new nurses; the fact is, nurse mentors can help you throughout all the stages of your nursing career. Even when you work as a travel nurse.

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Can Travel Nurses have Mentors?

What Is a Nurse Mentor?

The Massachusetts chapter of the American Nurses Association (ANA) defines nurse mentoring as: “a broad caring role that encompasses formal or informal supporting, guiding, coaching, teaching, role modeling, counseling, advocating, networking, and sharing.” They go on to say that nurse mentoring can occur within and/or outside the clinical setting.

Typically, the new, less experienced nurse (the mentee) is paired with a more experienced nurse (the mentor) to help them learn a new position, develop in the role, and become successful in his/her career. The relationship can last for a few months, or even a few years.

As adult learners, nurse mentees are responsible for their own learning and behaviors, while mentors act as guides or facilitators of learning.

The Role of Nurse Mentors for Travel RNs

Nurse mentors can help mentees learn the ropes of their new job and the culture of the new environment. When it comes to travel RN jobs, this means the nurse mentor could be someone at their assignment facility or an experienced travel nurse who agrees to help you adapt to your new traveler lifestyle.

Mentors at your travel assignment facility:

  • Formal mentors. Each travel nursing assignment will begin with a traveler orientation. During this time, you might be assigned a nurse mentor at the facility who will show you around and serve as a guide if you have any questions. This pairing might or might not turn into a long-term relationship.
  • Experienced travel nurse mentors. Before you arrive at a travel RN assignment, ask your AMN Healthcare recruiter if he or she can connect you with experienced travelers. These may be travel nurses who are already working at your assignment facility, somewhere else in your assignment city, or even in other locations who could provide you with some general guidance about travel nursing.
  • Professional nurse mentors across the country. New nurses with less than five years of experience can sign up to be assigned a nurse mentor through ANA’s Mentoring Program; you must be an ANA member to participate in this virtual program. Many nurse specialty organizations have mentoring programs, as well, so be sure to investigate what’s available in your field.
  • Informal mentors. Most travel nursing assignments are around three months long, which gives you plenty of time to connect with an experienced nurse in a less official capacity while you are working there. Be on the lookout for nurse mentors who are approachable, patient, personable and willing to commit some time to answer your questions, sharing advice and help you achieve success.

Helpful Tips for Nurse Mentees

One nurse specialty organization that offers a comprehensive mentoring program is the Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses (AMSN). Any nurse can download the AMSN mentoring guides for nurse mentors, nurse mentees and program site coordinators.

In a 2012 article in Minority Nurse, AMSN’s CEO, Cynthia Nowicki Hnatiuk, EdD, RN, CAE, FAAN, talked about the mentoring relationship and advised nurse mentees to:

  • Assume responsibility for their own learning
  • Seek challenging assignments and responsibilities
  • Be receptive to and ask for feedback
  • Live up to promises and commitments
  • Articulate learning needs to their mentor
  • Ask questions and share concerns
  • Be prepared for mentoring meetings
  • Discuss long-range career planning
  • Ask for advice on handling difficult situations
  • Discuss clinical decisions that are made
  • Progressively increase their independence
  • Honor the confidentiality of the relationship
  • Agree to a no-fault termination of the relationship when the time is right

A great mentor can help you keep your career on track, and doing your best to be a great mentee will help both of you get the most out of the relationship.

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