The organisers of these tweeting communities regularly convene a group of nurses to share opinions on a chosen topic at a set time and date using the above hashtags to curate the conversation.
I enjoyed a particularly robust Nurseshift debate about nurse mentors last Wednesday. It was about students’ (and mentors’) experiences of mentorship. While I was delighted to discover that most students had enjoyed a great relationship and learnt a lot from their mentors on clinical placements, a few were disappointed.
Tales of being ignored or treated as a spare part, of not being shown anything new – or worse, being made fun of – emerged. Now I can hear qualified nurse mentors springing to their keyboards to write me a response in their defence. Relax those typing fingers. I know there will be fault on both sides – one too many indolent or insolent students can tip even the most generous-hearted mentor over the edge and spoil them for the next generation.
Nevertheless, Nurseshift did reveal a split between those mentors who view the task as a privilege and those who see it as a chore.
So should mentorship be obligatory for nurses who want to rise through the ranks? While the ability to inspire others and impart what you have learnt is undoubtedly a necessity in the nursing workforce, I’m not sure it is essential that everyone proves this skill or indeed that everyone can develop it.
If I think of my own career, it’s useful if editors can nourish junior writers with their wisdom, but I’ve met many brilliant editors who couldn’t get beyond the DCI Gene Hunt from Life on Mars school of management. They haven’t been penalised for this, instead they’ve been heralded as a success for what they have achieved.
Why should nurses who have phenomenal clinical and patient skills be made to spend their time doing something they are not so good at in order to gain promotion in their chosen career?
Isn’t it better that their employer recognises their strengths and makes the best use of those skills, rather than forcing them to conform to a notion of what nurses should be good at?
Such coercion makes for a lacklustre experience for the student too. If what we need is a culture of professional leadership, we need to immerse students in a world of enthusiasm and positivity from the get-go – expertise alone is not enough.