Mentoring: It's About Relationship

Mentoring is a means of professional development, both for the newer nurse being mentored and the more experienced nurse serving as a mentor. Mary, a retired RN and former NCF staff member, and Lindsey, two years post-BSN graduation, agreed to provide a window into their mentoring relationship.

Pre-COVID, Mary and Lindsey, who initially connected at an NCF group, met in person for Bible study and conversation. During the pandemic, they’ve interacted regularly online or talked by phone.

Lindsey speaks highly of the encouragement and insights Mary offers. They’ve discussed nursing and co-worker topics Lindsey has encountered, as well as personal concerns. This mentoring has helped Lindsey positively manage nursing challenges, such as the death of a patient.

“I was working on the COVID unit, and was initially filled with so much guilt and shame that the patient didn't survive. The Holy Spirit worked powerfully through Mary as she reminded me that I had taken care of the patient to the best of my ability and there was nothing I could have done differently. Throughout the days (and weeks) of processing that situation, I continuously repeated those words: ‘There is nothing I could have done differently.’ I still find this message so powerful in my daily work.”

Lindsey commends Mary’s listening and insight related to burdens she was carrying, such as needing “to be a perfect nurse, a perfect preceptor to a nursing student, and perfect at administering chemotherapy.” Mary’s reminders to give up each of those burdens to God (Matthew 11:28-30) prompted Lindsey to “write down the burdens I carry and throw them in the trash!” She’s had much less anxiety on her days off, knowing that she’s given all the patient situations up to God.

Mary considers encouragement a focus of her communication with Lindsey. She’s intentional in her questions about Lindsey’s nursing situations, presenting biblical truth that Lindsey can incorporate into her life and work.

“Be vulnerable as a mentor and share about yourself, too,” Mary suggests to potential mentors. “This helps the mentee to also be vulnerable. Share prayer concerns and pray together.” Mary’s offering of Scripture that relates to topics the two discuss has benefitted Lindsey: “It reminds me that God is present and in control.”

“Being able to encourage someone in the next generation of nursing has been enriching. Passing on what we’ve learned is very important (2 Timothy 2:1-2),” Mary added.

Mary offered other insightful suggestions for mentors:

  • Know that it’s helpful for a new nurse to talk to someone who’s been in his/her shoes.
  • It’s vital to help process things that are happening (professionally and personally).
  • Expect God to speak through you.
  • Mentoring others is an avenue for one’s own growth. Our own daily time with God will come alive as we share it with others.
  • Pray for each other; then at the next meeting, ask how God has answered, and praise his faithfulness.

Resources

Biblical references regarding God’s call to disciple (mentor), foundations for mentorship in nursing from NCF, and an overview of NCF resources for mentorship are on the NCF website.

NCF Mentor Guide: Basics of mentoring to help you get started.

NCF has various Bible study discussion guides to encourage you and the person you will mentor to receive direction from God’s Word. Here’s one example: “Who Do We Follow?” Based on Matthew 11:28-30, listen to Jesus’ invitation to us in our ongoing journey to represent him in nursing.

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