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Immediate Openings: Role Models and Mentors

Immediate Openings: Role Models and Mentors

Laura Wisniewski RN, BS, CIC

After successfully leaping over the hurdles of nursing school acceptance, care plans, case studies, exams, clinical rotations, state boards and job interviews; graduate nurses may find themselves lost in the gap. The gap is the danger zone between theory taught in nursing school and the real world of nursing.

Nursing socialization can be very intimidating to a new nurse. The responsibilities are great and much is expected in a very short time. Think back for a moment, to your first job as a nurse; after the initial honeymoon phase, how long was it before reality shock set in? Role models and mentors can help navigate the rough waters of this transition process.

Unfortunately, there are still some nurses that sabotage, instead of nurture graduate nurses. These individuals serve as horrible examples of what not to do. In nursing literature the unpleasant stereotype; “nurses eat their young”, has been replaced with other terms such as lateral violence, horizontal violence or bullying. No matter the name, the behavior remains the same and poses a threat to retention. Exceptional role models and mentors are willing to intervene and serve as advocates.

A role model and mentor

I was a new ER nurse, eager and easily excitable. Each time a patient had a PVC on the cardiac monitor, I would have one too.

Trudy could handle anything that came through the door. She knew things. Doctors listened when she spoke. No matter how crazy busy it got, she treated every patient in the emergency room as if they were the only patient. Yet she still had the time, energy and patience to show me the ropes.

She could run a code on one of the nursing units while the doctor was busy with another cardiac arrest in the ER. She knew when a middle aged man complaining of a “funny feeling” was having a heart attack. Trudy could tell if a woman in labor would make it to the OB department or if she needed to set up for an emergent delivery. I witnessed her calming aggressive intoxicated patients with the tone of her voice. She held the hands of dying patients and hugged strangers who had just lost a loved one.

One evening a young father carried his ten month old, dusky colored daughter though the double doors of the department. As I started to rush toward them, Trudy stopped me before I had a chance to move. She quickly handed me a surgical mask and told me; “That baby has meningitis.” Her diagnosis was later confirmed. Trudy simultaneously cared for the child, the parents and her protégé.

I told myself, that one day I wanted to be just like her. I have spent my career attempting to keep that promise. I encourage every experienced nurse to become a Trudy for a generation of new nurses.

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