According to a recent MGMA Stat poll, 60% of health care organizations offer an onboarding/mentorship program for new health care professionals.1 This process involves the transfer of knowledge from one clinician to another.2 While this premise sounds straightforward, it is more nuanced. Wound care professionals may struggle to meet the ever-increasing needs of patients while they focus on learning new technologies or knowledge in a rapidly evolving field.2 Mentorship programs allow for easier knowledge transfer to speed up the learning process.
A mentor is often confused with other terms, such as a role model, advisor, or preceptor. While these terms often describe a similar relationship, they are not the same as a mentor. Unlike a preceptorship, which orients individuals to a work environment through teaching and clinical evaluation, mentorship is a collaborative effort intended to support a clinician's professional and personal development.3 Mentors are also different from advisors, who primarily provide knowledge and monitor progress since mentors often play the role of teacher, guide, and advocate.4 Mentorships often benefit both parties and can be either formal or informal.1
Mentorship programs provide a venue for new clinicians to ask questions, making the transition from trainee to clinician much easier.1The benefits of mentorship programs for the mentee include1,3:
Mentorships are also beneficial for mentors. Among the benefits to mentors are3:
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As a field which consists of thousands of clinicians, the mentor relationship is vital in the field of wound care. While mentorship programs are extremely beneficial, particularly to employee satisfaction and retention, there is a high degree of variability across these programs in clinical settings. This variability may be found in the level of formality of the program, the frequency of meetings, and the structure of mentorship. However, it is still found that despite the variability, mentored faculty are found to spend more time on research and are more likely to obtain grants, in addition to the positive effects on retention and scholarship, career satisfaction, and personal development.5 Within wound care, it has been found that mentored wound care specialists perform better with surgical dressings. Mentorship programs may also enhance clinical practice and improve patients' clinical outcomes.6,7
While mentorships can be informal or formal, the most successful programs build in accountability for both the mentor and the mentee. This accountability usually includes the following components1:
Mentorship programs with these key elements can contribute to the development of more knowledgeable and skilled clinicians who may become mentors in the future.
Health care facilities often see quantifiable benefits when mentorship programs are in place, such as increased productivity and reduced organizational risk due to longer periods of provider observation.1 These programs can contribute to an organizational culture that emphasizes continuous learning, sharing, and collaboration. With many benefits for the mentors, the mentees, and the organization, these programs can contribute to better practice management.
The views and opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author, and do not represent the views of WoundSource, HMP Global, its affiliates, or subsidiary companies.