Why Mentorship is Important in Healthcare

In this article, we talk about what mentorships are, and how hospitals can use them to improve the work environment for everyone.

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There is something almost antiquated about the concept of mentorship. Two people sitting down to pass along wisdom and advice? What, was the WIFI down?

But these arrangements produce good results. It’s hard transitioning into life as a medical professional. Having a dependable mentor gives new hires the opportunity to bounce questions off of someone who gets it, or simply have someone they can vent to.

In this article, we talk about what mentorships are, and how hospitals can use them to improve the work environment for everyone.

Learning the Ropes

Doctors and nurses spend a lot of time in training before they are ever given any professional autonomy. Nevertheless, most agree that the job feels different when you are on your own without a supervisor looking over your shoulder.

A mentor can help make it easier to transition into life as an independent professional. The mentee can ask them questions, bounce ideas off, or simply share the stresses of the job with someone who understands.

And, of course, it’s also worth noting that all hospitals are a little different. The mentee may have learned how to do things one way during school only to find that expectations aren’t quite the same at the hospital where they eventually come to work.

Having a trusted friend with more experience can make it easier to transition into professional life with continuity.

Understanding the Community

Contrary to common belief, healthcare isn’t precisely the same wherever you go. Human bodies are the same. The things that hurt those bodies are largely the same. But the communities that hospitals serve are not.

Some of these intricacies are physical. For example, maybe the town has a factory with notoriously bad emissions. As a consequence, this particular hospital sees a lot of respiratory issues.

Maybe the community has high rates of obesity, and the hospital deals with an abnormally high number of diabetic or cardiovascular events.

The nuances could also be cultural. A strong religious sentiment that influences the way community members like to talk or think about their loved one’s healthcare needs.

Whatever the case, every town is different, and learning how to interact with the community in terms they are comfortable with can be helpful for healthcare workers.

This skill can’t be learned overnight, but through mentorship, it is possible to learn the nuances of the job faster.

Help Navigating the Emotional Challenges of the Work

The healthcare industry is uniquely difficult from an emotional perspective. Depending on what aspect of health your job addresses, it may be very possible that you are routinely dealing with people during the most difficult times in their life.

Patients struggle. They suffer. Sometimes, they don’t get to go home to their families. These aspects of the work never become easy, but they can be particularly challenging when you are in the early stages of your career.

Having a mentor, someone who gets it, can make the job easier. While they won’t be able to take the sting out of it when there is a bad patient outcome, they can help the new healthcare worker better understand the broader context of the work. True, bad things happen on the job, but wonderful things do as well.

Establishing a Promotion Track

Mentors are well-positioned to make recommendations for the promotion track. It can be difficult to evaluate employee competency in the hospital setting.

Sure, you can tell when someone does something very wrong, but when everything goes smoothly, it’s harder to see which of the many hardworking employees would be good candidates for management roles in the future.

Hospitals are so busy, there isn’t always the opportunity to make those assessments. Insert that catheter, won’t you? By the way, where do you see yourself in five years?

Mentors will usually have a better idea not just of what sort of outcomes an employee produces, but how they are on the job.

Using this information, they can recommend people for promotion, and help ensure that only the best employees are finding themselves in leadership roles.

Healthcare Work Is Just Hard

Finally, healthcare work is just difficult. People live and die based on the decisions you make. When you have an off day at other jobs, it doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things. At hospitals, it matters.

Mentorships help ensure that help is there for the people who need it. They are an organic and effective way to pass important information from one person to another. People involved in a mentorship-like relationship may feel more comfortable asking questions and getting help when they think they need it.

It’s a dynamic that can quite literally save lives depending on the situation.

Ok, So How Do You Get a Mentor?

Well, that’s just the question, isn’t it? These relationships can spring up organically in a Mr. Miyagi, Daniel-san, sort of way. Two people click and just begin to work well together. However, for hospitals that are hoping to benefit from mentorship relationships, this might not be the best approach.

Some healthcare systems have introduced optional mentorship programs in which new hires are specifically paired with more seasoned hospital employees.

These arrangements may vary from place to place, but usually, it involves regular meetings and check-ins so that the mentor can monitor the new hire’s progress, and provide advice where it is needed.

These programs usually work best with some form of incentivisation. After all, mentorships are more work for everyone involved.

They also may require some degree of oversight.

But isn’t a mentor there for oversight?

Look at you paying attention. It is. But all other things aside, what we are talking about here is an official, hospital-wide program. It costs money. It takes time. You want to make sure it is doing what it is supposed to. That means setting up benchmarks and establishing a way to evaluate if those benchmarks are being met.

Checks and balances also help to ensure that everything is kept above board as well. Earlier we mentioned that mentorships can be a good way to identify people who might be promotion material somewhere down the line. And that’s true, but if you are going to look at the arrangement that way, you need to make sure people aren’t just recommending their friends for better gigs.

By having clear, monitorable goals, you help ensure that your mentorship program does what it is supposed to. You also have the ability to tweak the arrangement easier if your benchmarks aren’t being met.

If you want to learn more about supporting healthcare workers through mentoring, book a free demonstration with PushFar today.

This article was guest written by Andrew Deen.

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