How to Find the Right Nurse Mentor

Please enjoy this guest author post from friend of Aspen, Raquel Miller, RN, BSN aka “Nurse Rocky”. Raquel is an ICU travel nurse and founder of Hey Nurse Rocky, a platform that promotes creativity, community, and confidence building in nursing. 


“Generally speaking, there are two kinds of learning: experience, which is gained from your own mistakes, and wisdom, which is learned from the mistakes of others.” – John C. Maxwell

Navigating nursing school, your career as a nurse, and let’s be honest, adulting, in general, can be challenging. 

  • Do you worry about time management?
  • Are you nervous about how to move forward with your career post-COVID? 
  • Do you know how best to communicate with peers?
  • How do you balance work/life/family/school
  • Where are you in your nursing career, and where do you want to be in 1 year? Five years? Ten years?

You are not alone in this. It’s ok to need someone to guide you along the way. 

When it comes down to understanding things like which path to take to reach your goals, avoiding common mistakes, and acquiring necessary skills for the job you want, you want guidance from someone with shared experiences who knows how to advise you to move forward.

I know that meeting your ideal mentor can be intimidating, but you’ve got this! 

Here are my 5 Steps To Finding the Right Nurse Mentor:


1. Identify your Needs

Though there may be many things that you are anxiously unaware of, you need to identify areas in your life, academics, or career that may need improvement. Don’t worry. You don’t need to have it all figured out right now. This is just a starting point for you, and you can update this list over time. 

The acronym S.M.A.R.T.  is a common tool adapted over time for mapping out goals. Here’s my version: 

  • Be specific. Pinpoint the areas you want to improve (ie. “I need some tips on effectively communicating with doctors.” or “ I need help organizing my time and tasks.”

  • Make it measurable. Track progress so you know when you’ve reached your goal. (ie. “When I can create a template for all the information I need and consistently be prepared for clinical rounds during my shift, I know I’ve met my goal for effective communication with clinicians.”

  • Ask yourself if your goal is attainable. Is this something you can realistically accomplish? At this stage, your benchmarks may be unclear. Jot down these thoughts and discuss reasonable timeframes and actionable steps with your mentor.

  • Remember to stay relevant. Focus your mind on questions, needs, or goals that directly connect to your personal vision for your nursing career. If your goal is to manage your time as a new nurse better, then focusing on lofty goals like being an entrepreneur as a side hustle would be inappropriate. Keep your goals focused.

  • Commit to a timeframe. Do you want short-term or long-term support? Typical timeframes for mentorship programs range from 6-12 weeks.

Maybe, even with this tool’s help, you’re not 100% sure about the goals you want to create. Perhaps you have tons of questions about the process and need the guidance of a mentor to discover some goals along the way. That’s ok as well. Be sure to write down these questions and present them to your aspiring mentor.  


2. Do the Research

If I asked you to think of your ideal mentor, what kind of person would that be? Did you think of anyone specific? 

Ask yourself:

  • What personal attributes and career achievements do you feel are essential for your mentor to have? 
  • Would you appreciate knowing the path that person took to reach where they are today? 
  • What are their values? 

Now, where can you find your ideal mentor? 

I recommend using as many resources as you can, such as : 

  • University advisors
  • Google search
  • Facebook groups
  • Instagram search 
    • Instagram is saturated with nurses who offer mentorship services


3. Decide on Desired Learning Approach

Not all mentorships are created equally. There are many organizational strategies and program outlines. 

Do you prefer in-person coaching sessions?

  • University advisors
  • Certified consultants

Or online interactions?

  • Social media platforms
  • Virtual meeting spaces
  • Online courses  

In-person sessions offer a personal and tactile approach. Online platforms provide more convenience to both parties; however, it can create opportunities for communication barriers if technical issues arise. With COVID-19 still a significant problem in the US, it won’t be surprising that most nurses turn toward online mentorships. 

As a part of step 2 (Do the Research), you’ve discovered a mentorship website through Instagram, Google, or your local university. The next step is using that website and program outline to get a good understanding of how hands-on/interactive a program might be. 


4. Confirm Compatibility and Establish a Rapport

Sometimes we read articles or scroll through Instagram posts and immediately feel connected to people we’ve never met. When searching for a mentor, you want to make sure that you can feel comfortable speaking openly and honestly. Request an introductory call or meet for coffee to ensure that you two are a good fit for each other. 

Many online coaches and mentors include surveys with questions about where you are in your nursing journey and why you feel you may need a mentor as well as short 30-minute calls as a part of their screening process into their programs. This allows both the mentor and the mentee to test the chemistry, communication, and compatibility for a mentorship relationship.

Completing the previous steps equips you with an easy-to-use template for clearly communicating your goals and expectations for a mentorship program.


5. Be Consistent

As a nurse, it’s easy to get overwhelmed, busy, or distracted during this process!

Here is your half-time locker room pep talk:

Put in the work, be consistent, and crush your career goals!

Best of luck to you in your search for the right mentor. 


nurse mentor adviceRaquel Miller, RN, BSN is an ICU traveling nurse, content creator, and founder of Hey Nurse Rocky, a platform that promotes creativity, community, and confidence building in nursing. As a critical care nurse for over 5 years, Raquel realizes the importance of work-life balance and spends a lot of her free time crafting, playing the guitar, singing, and writing. She has purposed her influence and platform to empowering other nurses to find education, encouragement, confidence, and balance in their personal lives and careers as well. Check out her website and follow her on Instagram and Youtube for her latest.

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