Nurses supporting nurses: creating a mentoring program for staff nurses to improve the workforce environment

Christine L Latham, Mikel Hogan, Karen Ringl
Nursing Administration Quarterly 2008, 32 (1): 27-39

BACKGROUND: The hospital workforce environment has been recognized as an important factor for nurse retention and patient safety, yet there is ongoing evidence that inadequate communication, intraprofessional oppression, and lack of collaboration and conflict resolution continue to disempower nurses and hinder improvement of workforce conditions.

PURPOSE: A 3-year academic-hospital partnership developed and used a registered nurse (RN) mentor and advocacy program to improve the RN work environment and selected patient outcomes.

METHOD: The partnership initiated mentor-mentee teams and a Workforce Environment Governance Board, and obtained preliminary data on outcomes related to mentor-mentee teamwork, changes in the level of support within each unit, and the impact of improved working conditions on nurse and patient satisfaction, nurse vacancy and turnover rates, and 3 patient safety outcomes related to fall and pressure ulcer prevention and use of restraints.

DISCUSSION: Dedicated mentors not only engaged in supporting fellow nurses but also assisted with enhancing the overall work environment for RNs. The partnership enhanced mutual respect between frontline RNs and managers, and allowed frontline RNs to improve the culture of support.

CONCLUSIONS: The comprehensive approach to incorporating mentor-mentee teams changes the way fellow nurses and others perceive nurses, augments support by managers and coworkers, and improves patient care outcomes.

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