The Role of Peer Mentors in Nursing Leadership
The U.S. needs healthcare leaders like nurse managers who excel at functions like strategic planning, finance, staff management, and efficiency.1 But recruiting nurse leaders is just the start. Without retention strategies, healthcare organizations may lose the nurse managers they work hard to recruit.
Research conducted by a Walden University doctoral candidate suggests that peer mentorship programs are an effective way to increase job satisfaction and retain nurse managers (NMs).2
Tonya Roth, who earned her Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree from Walden in 2019, designed a doctoral research project to measure the impact of a peer mentor program on nurse manager retention. She shared the results of her doctoral study in an article for the Journal of Excellence in Nursing and Healthcare Practice, which she co-authored with Diane Whitehead, a Walden senior faculty member and Roth’s DNP mentor.
“The main purpose of this project was to develop an evidence-based formal mentorship program for NMs in an effort to impact retention rates at two hospitals in the Pacific Northwest. A secondary purpose was to evaluate the impact that a formal mentorship program has on NMs’ job satisfaction and intent to stay,” they write in “Impact of a Nurse Manager Peer Mentorship Program on Job Satisfaction and Intent to Stay.”2
According to the article, 15 nurse managers volunteered for and completed a six-month program. The majority of the participants had between 12 and 28 years of nursing experience. The mentees selected their own peer mentors.
“Frontline NMs need a unique mentorship relationship to support and guide them in their nurse leadership practice and skills development. This relationship requires that the mentor had a previous successful NM experience and was willing to serve as a mentor. For both the mentor and mentee, trust is critical, as well as the understanding that the relationship may evolve or resolve depending on the needs of the NM,” Roth and Whitehead say.
Over the six months, the nurse mentors and mentees met monthly as a group and in pairs.
“Participants were given the most current edition of The Leadership Challenge (Kouzes & Posner, 2017) to use throughout the program. Each session was focused on one exemplary leadership behavior. The session designs began with an executive leader joining the cohort for 20 minutes to share his or her leadership journey and describe how he or she has demonstrated a particular behavior,” Whitehead and Roth say.
“The action-packed agenda then included various group and mentorship activities designed to allow self-reflection on that session’s behavior focus. Each session also focused on the mentorship cycle and helpful strategies to support the mentor-mentee relationship.”
Mentorship Program Has Positive Results
The project measured results using two assessment tools: the Leadership Practices Inventory, based on The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership by Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner,3 and the Nurse Manager Practice Environment Scale. Job satisfaction, intent to stay in a job, and transformational leadership behaviors were assessed before and after the program.
“The results demonstrated a significant increase in job satisfaction, intent to stay, and transformational leadership behaviors,” Roth and Whitehead write. “Implementation of this pilot program supported positive social change through reduced NM turnover, resulting in a reduction of healthcare spending on replacement costs in addition to improved patient outcomes.”
Why NM Retention Is Critical
“Nurse managers (NMs) play a pivotal role within a hospital,” the authors say. “Studies have shown a positive correlation between transformational leaders and a variety of patient outcomes (Wong, 2015), and turnover in this role has been shown to have an impact on nurse-sensitive indicators such as falls and pressure ulcers (Warshawsky, Rayens, Stefaniak, & Rahman, 2013).”
Retaining nurse managers also saves recruiting time and reduces the financial cost of turnover.
“Within the state of Oregon, the NM role in a hospital was cited to be the most challenging role to fill when vacant: 61.9% of employers ranked it very difficult to fill in 2016 (Oregon Center for Nursing, 2016),” they say. “Furthermore, the cost to replace a NM was estimated to be anywhere between $132,000 and $228,000 (Sherman, Patterson, Avitable, & Dahle, 2014).”
Choosing a Nurse Leadership Master’s Program
Earning a master’s degree in nursing can provide the knowledge and training you need to meet the growing demand for healthcare leaders. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says employment of medical and health services managers is projected to grow 28% between 2021 and 2031.1
To prepare for a nurse executive role, choose a master’s program that’s accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). Walden University’s online Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree program has CCNE accreditation and offers a Nurse Executive specialization to help you tailor your studies to your career goals. Walden’s Nurse Executive specialization is also aligned with the Nurse Executive Competencies established by the Association of Nurse Leaders.
Walden also offers five nurse practitioner specializations that can help prepare you to pursue certification and credentialing in fields like pediatric primary care. Or, you may opt for online degree programs that can help prepare you for careers in nursing education, nursing informatics, and public health nursing.
And all of Walden’s online nursing programs let you advance your education while staying active in your nursing career and personal life. You can log in to your coursework anywhere you have an internet connection.
Developing your nurse leadership skills can help prepare you for a nurse executive job where you can make a difference in your healthcare organization—and in the lives of those you serve.
Walden University is an accredited institution offering a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) online degree program. Expand your career options and earn your degree in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.
Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.
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