Evaluation of a personal professional mentor scheme for newly qualified nurses
Newly qualified nurses are known to experience a range of feelings and fears in the first transitional 12 months post-qualifying, with absence and turnover among potential outcomes.
To evaluate the personal professional mentor role and scheme, a new pastoral support initiative, from the perspective of participating newly qualified nurses.
Newly qualified paediatric nurses (n=10), who had been assigned a personal professional mentor (an experienced nurse who worked elsewhere in their employing NHS Trust), completed a semi-structured interview. The data were analysed using thematic analysis.
The personal professional mentor counteracted some aspects of transition isolation for the newly qualified nurses. They were an independent, accessible, experienced confidant and a welcome new supportive role.
Pairing experienced nurses with newly qualified nurses provided a new type of workplace support during transition. Inexpensive to set up and run, it is an easy addition to any portfolio of support strategies.
Newly qualified nurse (NQN) ‘transition shock’ (Duchscher, 2009) or ‘reality shock’ (Kramer, 1974) are terms ascribed to a phenomenon of sometimes traumatic change over the first 12 months post-qualifying. The transition for these novice nurses is a complex process of socialisation, professionalisation and adaptation entwined with multiple work-related stressors (Halpin, 2015; Halpin et al, 2017).
A children's hospital within a large NHS Trust recruited more than 70 NQNs in 2017 and 100 NQNs in 2018 as part of an ambitious programme of expansion by the Trust. However, while a high proportion of NQNs is a recognised feature of acute hospitals in the UK, so is high turnover (Whitehead et al, 2013; Brook et al, 2019).
A wide range of strategies and interventions have been tried globally to support NQNs during transition, with the intention of positively affecting personal and organisational factors, such as confidence, competence, job satisfaction, retention and turnover, but none stand out as fully achieving such outcomes (Edwards et al, 2015). Preceptorship has been implemented widely across the UK as a structured approach to helping NQNs to develop both their competency and confidence during their first 12 months (Irwin et al, 2018). However, it does not have a clear pastoral role for the preceptor embedded within it to help an NQN during their transition. Equally, it does not directly assist with professional and organisational socialisation and a sense of belonging that can also promote confidence and retention of NQNs (van Rooyen et al, 2018; Devey Burry, 2020).
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