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The Importance of Mentoring Nurse Practitioners

This is the first article in a three-part series on mentorship within the NP Profession

Do you remember what is was like to be a brand new nurse practitioner? You just graduated from NP school, passed your boards, and you finally accepted that long awaited job offer. I imagine that you were both thrilled and scared at the same time. Excited to no longer have to attend long lectures coupled with hours of studying. But also fearful about no longer having your preceptor to consult with, and now your patients were ultimately under your care.  

I remember my early days as a nurse practitioner which were filled with a lot of anxiety, self-doubt, and learning the hard way. I still remember clearly one of the first clinics that I worked for, and how challenging it was. The clinic management was incredibly unsupportive, and often put me in a position that I didn’t feel comfortable with. I didn’t understand how to advocate for myself, or that this was even an option. Relatively early on in my career I began to experience symptoms of burnout, which unfortunately is incredibly common across medical professionals, regardless of discipline. It’s imperative that we as healthcare providers address these challenges early on, as burnout can have disastrous results. 

As a new NP I’d often wish that I had a mentor or resource to help me through the many challenges that I faced. Unfortunately, when I was applying to NP school and even when I graduated, I wasn’t able to find this sort of resource that I really needed. As there wasn’t a text out there,  I created “The Ultimate Nurse Practitioner Guidebook” to help other NPs along their path and to help them avoid the errors that I made. This book was the genesis for my current business, The Nurse Practitioner Mentorship Project, which I created due to what I felt was a lack of mentorship within the profession. 

In my opinion, mentorship is one of the most important aspects to the success of the new graduate nurse practitioner. Once your NP program is finished, you’re basically left on your own. When you graduate and start your job there is no continued guidance and support. We do not have mandatory residencies like physicians do, though there have been more and more residencies and fellowships pop up over the years.  We also do we have enough formal mentoring programs to ensure a smooth transition from student to clinician

A mentor is someone who is there for you to answer your clinical questions, bounce ideas off of, and support you as you grow in your practice. Mentors are not only there to guide you clinically, but can also help answer your non-clinical questions as well.  Non-clinical mentorship is what I focus on in my business as there are many subjects that aren’t taught in school which are also incredibly valuable. Topics such as negotiating a contract, dealing with challenges in the workplace, and self-care, are examples of a few of the subjects that I teach within my mentorship. 

I’d love to see more nurse practitioner residencies as well as more mentoring programs within the profession. This would ensure that all new graduate NPs have the opportunity to benefit from them. However, until this is commonplace, we need to find ways to mentor our NPs so that they are supported in their practice. In my next article I’ll be offering suggestions on how to find a mentor that’s right for you.

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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