Friends as Mentors? Mentors of Other Credentials? Answers to Your Questions on Mentorship

This is the second article in a three-part series on mentorship within the NP Profession. You can access the first article by clicking here

Finding a mentor is an important aspect to your success as a nurse practitioner, especially as a new graduate. You’ve entered into a brand new career and it’s important to have a mentor in your corner guiding and cheering you on. Mentorship is so important to me that I created The Nurse Practitioner Mentorship Project to guide and mentor future and current NPs. 

In this article I’ll be addressing several key points on how to find a mentor that’s the right fit for you. I say right fit because not all mentors are created equal, and it’s important to be able to determine who will best fit your needs. Below are a few questions to ask yourself when determining who should be a mentor.

Where can I find a mentor?

First things first, you need to find a mentor! But where should you begin to look? The majority of mentors that I’ve found have been in the workplace. However, they can also be former classmates, colleagues, or preceptors. I’ve had multiple mentors (sometimes at the same time) and have learned a great deal from each one of them. Typically my primary mentor is someone with whom I work, and my other mentors are those I consult with on occasion, for example in specialty practice. 

For me, the workplace is an ideal place to find a mentor because they will be working alongside you. If you have a challenging clinical case you can discuss it with them in person, or pull them in to the exam room for a second opinion. You can also get to know your mentor better by developing a working relationship with them. There’s also an added benefit to having your mentor in your place of work, which I’ll be discussing in the next article. 

What type of experience should my mentor have?

Your mentor should have more experience than you do as their role is to teach you and help you grow. They don’t necessarily have to be a nurse practitioner, but should generally be experienced in their practice. I’ve had NP, MD/DO, and PA mentors and have learned a great deal from each discipline. 

You’ll also want to have a mentor who is in the same specialty as you. For example, if you work in primary care then you’ll want a primary care mentor etc. However, if you see a lot of specialties in your practice (for example dermatology), then perhaps you’d like to find an additional mentor such as a dermatologist with whom you can discuss clinical cases. 

Can my mentor be a friend or family member?

If you’re lucky enough to have a close family member or friend in the profession to consult with, it can be a huge bonus. I have multiple friends in the profession and it’s made consulting much easier and faster, and oftentimes the answer is only a text message away. However, I would suggest you avoid a friend or family member as your mentor. 

You want your mentor to be objective, someone who will give it to you straight, especially when there’s something that you need to improve on. Sometimes our loved ones are biased and can’t be as objective as we need them to be. Having a mentor who is not in your immediate circle will help to avoid this issue, as well as help you grow to your full potential. 

Finding a mentor who supports you in your clinical practice is invaluable. A mentor will also help ease your transition from student to clinician if you’re a new graduate. I’ve had mentors my entire NP career and can’t imagine where I’d be without them. 

I hope that from these last two articles you’ve learned about the importance of mentorship and how to find a mentor. In the third and final article of this series I’ll be discussing ways to have a great mentor/mentee relationship.

Nadia Santana, DNP, FNP-BC is a nurse practitioner, author, and business owner. She founded The Nurse Practitioner Mentorship Project which is an online non-clinical mentoring business for future and current NPs. She is also a published author of “The Ultimate Nurse Practitioner Guidebook.” Visit her online at www.nadiasantana.com  on Instagram @soulofsantana and on Facebook @NPMentorship

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