Mentoring and the Early Career Nurse: A Critical Relationship

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Tracey L. Moroney, PhD, BN (Hons)
Levina Saad, BN
School of Nursing, University of Notre Dame, Darlinghurst, Australia


There has been significant attention to the role of mentoring in nursing with discussion focusing on defining the concept, the nature of the mentoring role and the characteristics of the mentor. There is however some tension in the literature around the role and functions of a mentor (Andrews and Wallis 1999) with conflicting opinions. This is compounded by the use of interchangeable terms, including preceptor and supervisor and a variety of definitions, which has created misinterpretation and confusion on the nature of mentoring.

Despite the variety of definitions to describe mentoring, mentoring in essence is the relationship between two individuals designed to achieve personal and professional growth. In the early career stage for new graduate nurses, this supportive relationship can be critical to assisting new graduates to consolidate knowledge and practice required of a registered nurse.  It is evident however that many early career nurses struggle with the beginning years of practice and it is this difficult adjustment that may be linked to increasing numbers of early career nurses who leave the profession.  


This research study, using a Grounded Theory methodology, explored the concept of mentoring in early career nurses. In particular the research explored the way in which early career nurses identified potential mentors and used these mentors to support their practice. This project has global significance, as the support of early career nurses is important to the development of a knowledgeable and effective nursing workforce (Ferguson 2011).


Mentoring was seen by early career nurses as important to surviving the new graduate transition however formal mentoring was found to be less successful than the informal mentoring structures that early career nurses adopted.


This poster presentation will explore the role of mentoring and in particular the way in which early career nurses identified and used mentors. Finally this poster presentation will recommend strategies for improving mentoring programs for early career nurses.