How to find a mentor


I just graduated in May and started working at a hospital in Sept working nights on a very heavy med-surg unit. Even the experienced nurses on the unit say they've "never seen it like this." :sour: There are basically zero resources at night, we're constantly understaffed and I'm continuously overwhelmed and frustrated. Now don't get me wrong, I'm grateful to have a job and I'm nice, professional and dedicated while at work; I would never take my misery out on my patients or coworkers. If you saw me on the unit, you'd never know I was so disenchanted with this career.

I would love to find a mentor, but someone unbiased (aka someone not affiliated with the hospital) because I'm not sure hospital nursing is even for me. I want to talk to someone who can help me find other avenues to pursue, while still learning how to be a safe nurse while on the floor. I'm not looking for someone to do all the work for me, just someone who can point me in the right direction & be willing to cultivate a mentor relationship. Does anyone know how I would even go about doing this or finding one? Is it possible to find a mentor outside of your place of employment? I'm at a loss.

Sorry I'm kind of just rambling here, but any help/guidance/advice would go a long way. Thanks for taking the time to read all of this! :)


547 Posts

Has 3 years experience.

Do you still keep in contact with any of your nursing school colleagues? I find it very satisfying to talk with some of the people I graduated with because they work on different units and can understand and appreciate what nurses go through, but at the same time they are removed from the situation so they can not only offer an unbiased opinion but it is also confidential and I don't have to worry about things I say getting back to others on my unit or to management.


67 Posts

Specializes in med, surg,trauma, triage, research. Has 30+ years experience.

ah miamiabean , I'm sorry for you, I like sslamsters sound advice, but I would also say, that one if the things that school will never teach you is when to draw the line, that is get out, leave. Only you can decide if it is a good place to be and it may be that this area you're in has no chance of changing, in which case you might be disappointed in who ever you find as a mentor 'cos they'll not be able to fix zero resources, only money can do that. So check your expectations first, also just a suggestion, try a tutor that you got on with, maybe they'll know of the whereabouts of your fellow nurses - tis true though keep in touch with each other, only other nurses will understand where you're coming from...good luck

Has 33 years experience.

I like the above suggestions that you try to stay in contact with some of your nursing classmates so that you have a support group you can go to who is not biased. You could also perhaps try one of your favorite nursing instructors, if there was someone you felt close to as an instructor, one who really helped you. I don't know if we provide mentoring here, but I certainly use this as a sounding board and it does help to have multiple nursing input. I am interpreting from your entry that this is your first nursing job. Please know that there is a period of "reality shock" that every new nurse goes through. It is true night shift is usually always short-staffed, although it really should not be that way. The patients are the same level of sickness on nights as they are during the day. Most likely your facility staffs by census not by acuity. So, you can have very sick patients but a low census and you will be staffed with less nurses because of the census. I started on night shift years ago as a new graduate. I used those hours to my benefit, as with there being less "traffic" at night I was able to really learn physical assessment skills, how to prioritize what was important and what needed to be called to the MD etc. Night shift does have its benefits. If you are on a floor with a high turnover, be aware, it could be this floor has a reputation for burning out its nurses. That can happen anywhere. To rise above this situation it is important for you to recognize the benefits. Yes, there are benefits. IF this is your first job, you do not have enough experience to really just quit unless there is another job that you have already accepted. Try to figure out who is a reliable resource for you Who has the most experience on your unit on nights?? Ask this person if they mind you using them for guidance. Someone to ask questions. You do not have to discuss the political stuff that is going on with the unit, just someone who can assist you in learning how to accomplish your goals. You should have a Nursing Policy and Procedure Book or on-line reference to refer to with any procedure you need to perform. You can use your nursing college books for references, keep them in your locker. Use the pharmacy at night if you have questions about medications. There are resources there, just knowing how to tap into them can be a little daunting. You have the power!!! The patient population is always changing, there are ebbs and flows. Sometimes you will have a floor of CHF, sometimes COPD, then it seems most are diabetics. Learn how to put the pieces of the puzzle together to see how the medications affect/relate to the medical diagnosis of the patients. You can learn this one case at a time. Assess your lab values and how they reflect the symptoms of the patient etc. You are in the massive learning arena of your career. It is not a time to get all wrapped up in the politics of your unit. Try to look beyond and above that and use this time to put together what you are seeing. It will benefit you in the long run. After you have about a year or two behind you then look into transferring into another unit or another facility. Believe in yourself, you have the power!!! You do make a difference Don't sweat the small stuff!! I find that in most cases "it usually gets worse before it gets better" applies. The heaviest time for in patients is just beginning with the approaching of the winter months there will be increase respiratory issues etc, so get your rollar skates on!!! The fun is just beginning. The feelings of being over whelmed are natural at this time of your career, you will get over them but it will take time.


16 Posts

Thanks so much for the help and advice! And firstinfamily- thank you so much for the inspiration. It's just so hard to learn when it's so crazy at night. I rush through assessments and wonder if I missed anything later on, and I usually do but by then it's 3am and I feel terrible going in to wake them up. And by the time I finally finish medicating, it's the middle of the night and I try to document quickly before the next dose of medications are due. So far, I think I left work on time only twice. :down:

I feel like I can't even give my patients the time they deserve. And this floor does have a massively high turnover rate and now I completely understand why. Each shift I try to find a new "system" to be more time efficient, but I simply have so much trouble juggling 7 patients...most of whom are VERY sick. I have no idea how nurses took care of 10-12 patients, but I applaud them and am amazed. I'm not sure what I'm going to do about a mentor, but I think I'll try an old professor. I like that idea. Thanks for listening and replying! :D