The international shortage of qualified nursing faculty has been identified as a key factor in the inability to educate additional students to become registered nurses (Nardi & Gyurko, 2015) and was a focus of the 2010 Sigma Theta Tau International and International Council of Nurses summit (International Summit, 2010). Because the faculty shortage is the result of multiple, decades-old problems, solutions must be coordinated and comprehensive (Kowalski & Kelly, 2013).
One solution to the nurse faculty shortage is the recruitment, training, and mentoring of expert clinicians to become part-time clinical teachers (Hinderer, Jarosinski, Seldomridge, & Reid, 2015). The aim of this program, the Eastern Shore Faculty Academy and Mentorship Initiative (ES-FAMI), was to develop a diverse group of new clinical faculty and support them through the transition from clinician to educator. The Academy provided a foundation in educational theory, legal aspects of clinical teaching, methods of providing formative and summative feedback, and strategies for dealing with difficult students using a variety of face-to-face, online, and simulation activities. Upon completion of the Academy, a year-long structured one-to-one mentorship experience was offered to graduates. Mentoring opportunities that are laissez-faire provide little structure for the mentee, whereas formalized mentoring experiences with clearly defined goals are far more beneficial to novice educators (Cunningham, 2016; University of Melbourne, 2012). By pairing novice teachers with expert nursing faculty from one of the three area nursing programs, additional support and professional development was provided to assist the novices through their first teaching assignments. The purpose of this research was to evaluate various aspects of the structured, comprehensive, one-to-one mentorship experience.
A review of the literature was undertaken to identify best practices for structured mentorship programs. Using this information, the team developed a web-based Mentorship Resource site containing all training materials, survey instruments, and resources needed for the program. After approval by the University Committee on Human Research, prospective mentors and mentees completed several instruments to assist in the matching process. Mentors also completed an online training module and 2 hour face-to-face training. Mentees completed a 1/1/2 hour orientation to the mentorship program, expectations, and responsibilities. Mentor-mentee pairs completed a mentorship agreement stipulating their goals, meeting arrangements, and expectations for confidentiality and feedback. Data were collected on the focus and method of each contact. Information on mentor and mentee satisfaction with the mentorship experience were collected after 6 months and again at 1 year.
Data from 12 matches support a need for careful matching of mentors and mentees, separate training of mentors and mentees to prepare them for the mentorship experience, flexibility in meeting the expectation for twice per month contacts, development of separate resource websites for mentors and mentees, and open communication with program participants to problem-solve along the way.
A structured, comprehensive mentorship program is a necessary component of the preparation of expert clinicians as new nursing faculty and can be implemented in any nursing program regardless of geographic location. Since it takes one full-time faculty to produce six graduates per year who in turn provide $704,000 in annual health care services (Kowalski & Kelly, 2013), assuring a successful transition to the role of clinical teacher is a sensible investment. Though it requires time and effort to develop, implement, and evaluate, an extended mentorship experience may be the missing link in supporting new clinical teachers through their first teaching assignments. This new model for professional development can add to the number of available nursing faculty and enhance “nursing’s capacity to meet global healthcare needs” (Nardi & Gyurko, 2013, p. 324). The role of mentoring is vital in the advancement of individual nurses as well as the advancement of the profession as a whole (Institute of Medicine, 2010).