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Hybrid Mentoring Solution to Nursing Shortage

A productive nurse mentoring program requires time, effort, and commitment - resources no registered nurse or healthcare-related organization can afford to waste these days. With web-based mentoring software, it cuts attrition in half in less than six months and streamlines the administration of nursing mentorship in direct care, education, administrative and research work environments. Mentoring new nurses helps acclimate them to their new job roles and corporate environment.

It boosts JCAHO compliance scores, nursing recruitment, nurse retention, staff nursing development, and ultimately, the quality of patient care. Also, a mentoring nursing program has a potential expense reduction of $50,000 per retained nurse (based on average turnover costs) according to a 1999 Nursing Economics financial implications analysis. In addition, a nurse mentoring program is an important criterion to attain Magnet Hospital status. Unfortunately, with the current nursing shortage, there aren't enough nurses to do patient care, let alone mentoring. A successful mentoring program has many positive benefits and outcomes.

In spite of that, it has its pitfalls. A blend of traditional face-to-face mentoring and eMentoring addresses two major issues found in mentoring situations - time constraints and distance constraints. This "hybrid" Mentoring in Healthcare Management System is "a personalized, on-demand collaborative mentoring experience that uses web-enabled technology and integrated knowledge sharing and management to quickly build knowledge, nursing skills, and capability to optimize human performance, anytime, anywhere, while providing the ability to track and measure results". Mentoring partners should use HIPAA compliant collaboration tools, such as e-mail, video conferencing, Instant Messenger and file transfer to discuss patient information, maintain patient confidentiality, and to carry out aspects of mentoring. Hospitals, long-term care facilities, home health agencies, associations, schools and other healthcare-related organizations need customized mentoring solutions precisely tailored to their requirements. This solution would be used enterprise-wide or for a small group to automate the process of filling out forms, templates, and reports typically used to coordinate time-consuming and antiquated paper-based nursing mentoring programs.

With a web-based system, after a nurse mentor or nurse preceptor completes a profile, a sophisticated matching algorithm will find a perfect match based upon such factors as skills, personality, personal information, and career background. The mentee or preceptee should choose his or her own nursing mentor or nursing preceptorship. Best-practice mentoring guidelines need to be based on nursing research gleaned from the most respected nursing journals and nursing articles. Also, nursing staff development and training to manage and close gaps in organizational knowledge, nursing competency, and skills across an enterprise needs to be provided. Ideally, mentoring partners would be able to pick and choose from thousands of web-based staff training courses such as "JCAHO regulations", "JCAHO inspection", and other nursing contact hours. A web-based platform needs to be easily adaptable and would also help administer a nursing preceptor program as well as a coaching, learnership, externship, internship, apprenticeship, residency, diversity, and tutoring program for nurses, new nurse graduates, nursing students, physicians, medical students, residents, pre-med students, and allied health professionals.

With a hosted, pay-as-you-go, and collaborative mentoring software solution, the system would need to be delivered on-demand from secure servers without any hardware, infrastructure or IT people necessary.

Tony Colon, RN-C is a Mentoring in Healthcare Specialist. Find out how a customized, web-assisted mentoring program in your organization boosts recruitment, development, retention, and patient care at

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