Enhancing Nursing Through Mentorship
Dr. Jennifer Glendening had spent almost seven years away from education before deciding to pursue her doctoral degree. Her colleague and mentor, a Walden University doctoral graduate, inspired her to expand her educational horizons and strive for further excellence in her career.
“I was so encouraged by her determination,” says Dr. Glendening, a Walden PhD in Nursing graduate. “I feel that a great mentor helps you see value in your visions and goals for the future and allows you to explore creative growth. My mentor has been so valuable and precious to me because she focuses on me as a person, not only on my career goals.”
As Assistant Vice President of Professional Development at Cooper University Hospital in Camden, New Jersey, Dr. Glendening oversees nursing education and professional development, life support training and wound care. She has worked in leadership roles for about ten years, following more than 15 years as a bedside nurse.
“I think moving from peer to supervisor was the biggest challenge for me and many other new leaders I have worked with over the years,” says Dr. Glendening. “My mentor has helped me tremendously as I continue to grow and develop as a leader in the executive world of nursing.”
Dr. Glendening has used the knowledge she gained from her degree to enhance the nurse residency program, restructure new hire orientation, and implement a night shift resource role. Through it all, she has continued to keep front and center the professional development of bedside nurses, a group she sees as a driving force of positive social change.
She explores their unique challenges in her dissertation, “Learned Helplessness Among Acute Care Nurses and Its Influence on Inpatient Fall Incidence.” She sought to understand how to empower bedside nurses to balance complex patients and working environments to reduce fall rates and injury. Her study elevated attention to the psychosocial and behavioral needs of nurses who are subject to the negative consequences of such incidents. Many of her Cooper colleagues participated in her research and would ask how her education was progressing when passing her in the halls.
“I have a passion for the bedside nurse,” says Dr. Glendening. “They are some of the most skilled nurses out there, and I want them to know they are valued in the discipline of nursing. I spend a lot of time at Cooper guiding our new-to-practice nurses and experienced bedside nurses.”
During the past 18 months, Dr. Glendening has also devoted her time and expertise into mentoring five Walden nursing students within her organization. Walden University collaborates with a variety of organizations, like Cooper University Health Care, to provide educational opportunities and professional development to their staff.
“I love to mentor,” says Dr. Glendening. “I want to share with others. I want people to love nursing as much as I love nursing. This is a great career, and I’ve been able to do many things in my 30 years as a nurse. I’m proud of each role I’ve had.”
Most recently, Dr. Glendening mentored Catherine Long, a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) graduate and member of her team. They graduated from Walden together in 2020.
Long initially spent 14 years in the insurance industry, primarily reviewing medical records to determine if a claimant was eligible for payment. During that time, she worked with beside nurses who would review and advise on the insurance claims. Eventually, her love of health sciences drew her to the nursing field.
“I always found the nurses to be so compassionate and caring,” says Long. “You could see that they loved the work they did. I knew that I did not want to stay in the insurance field for the rest of my life, so I began to explore nursing programs for working adults.”
As a Wound, Ostomy and Continence (WOC) Nurse Educator, Long felt her Walden education better equipped her to look for opportunities to teach the staff and patients at Cooper.
“My final project at Walden focused on helping our ostomy patients make their transition from hospital to home smoother and to also prevent rehospitalization,” says Long. “I developed a new form for communicating to both the patient and their home healthcare nurse that we’re now using at Cooper.”
Long credits Dr. Glendening with providing the valuable guidance needed to help her complete her degree. In addition, Dr. Glendening ensured that Long had the time to complete her clinical hours, as they are also both full-time working parents.
“She provided feedback and guidance when I needed it, including on my final project,” says Long. “It was great having a mentor who was also pursuing a degree through Walden because she understood how rigorous the coursework was and how much time and support was needed. She was one of my biggest cheerleaders.”
“Mentors and mentees learn so much from each other,” says Dr. Glendening. “She was a new employee and mentoring her helped me get to know her personally and professionally. I’m proud of her accomplishments and admire her passionate commitment. Her MSN will, without a doubt, enhance her skills.”