Background: There is evidence that mentors can promote the retention of students in rigorous nursing education programs by promoting their professional integration, helping with skill acquisition, improving time management, enhancing real world expectations for students, and increasing student responsibility for learning. Research findings also document enhanced self-esteem and decreased anxiety and stress as well as a more positive environment and less confusion among nursing students in mentoring programs. The nature of the student-mentor relationship is fundamental to the quality of the learning experiences, and may influence the development of sound professional values in nursing students.
Conceptual Framework: The mentoring program was based on the Collaborative Partnerships Conceptual Framework of the School of Nursing. Collaborative partnership is a philosophical stance encompassing values, beliefs and attitudes that influence shared power and decision-making in all person-to-person encounters. Students and faculty cooperate in assuming shared power and decision-making for planning and implementing learning activities within the context of the curriculum. In the case of the mentor relationship, the mentor enters into an active, caring relationship with the student to identify and pursue mutually agreed-upon goals. The mentoring program was a voluntary program in which students self-selected to be paired with a faculty mentor (full-time SON faculty), a peer mentor (currently enrolled nursing student in the SON), a community mentor (registered nurses not affiliated with the SON), or no mentor.
Study Purpose: The purpose of the research was to examine the impact of the mentoring program on the academic progression and NCLEX success of students and determine factors that placed students at-risk for attrition or NCLEX-RN failure.
Method: Students voluntarily enrolled in the study on admission to the nursing program regardless of their intent with respect to the mentoring program. Initial data collection included demographic and admission data (including TEAS scores and GPA), learning style, nursing professional values, attitude toward nursing, and orientation to nursing. Subsequent data included HESI scores, course grades, attrition, graduation, and NCLEX success.
Results: A total of 374 students enrolled in the research between 2011 and 2015 (294 traditional and 80 accelerated). Ninety-one (24.33%) of the students in the study participated in the mentoring program. Overall attrition was 10.96% (academic = 6.95%; personal = 4.01%). Overall initial NCLEX pass rate was 92.6%. There was no significant correlation between participation in the mentoring program and either attrition or NCLEX failure. The single factor that influenced academic and NCLEX success was the TEAS Science score on admission to the program.
Conclusions: Students and mentors both believed that the mentor relationship was mutually beneficial. Although there was not a statistically significant relationship between mentoring and completion of the nursing program, it is interesting to note that none of the students who dropped out or left for personal reasons had a mentor. One the other hand, 40% of the students who failed academically had a mentor, a greater percentage than in the sample as a whole. It may be that these students are able early-on to identify themselves as at-risk. This voluntary mentor program continues to be offered in the SON.