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How Nurse Mentoring Impacts Career Progression

Mentorship is key as nurses navigate a changing healthcare landscape.

You might say that one of Dr. Jennifer L. Glendening’s first mentors was her father, a paramedic. As a child, she was inspired by his stories of caring for patients and saving lives. One mentor led to another. In high school, a guidance counselor suggested a career in nursing. In nursing school, she found an early mentor in the educator who managed her nurse extern program.

“She’s still a really great colleague and mentor to me today,” says Dr. Glendening, who is now the assistant vice president of professional development at Cooper University Health Care, an academic health system in South Jersey.


Those and many other experiences, both as a mentee and mentoring nurses, have helped enrich and guide her career of almost 30 years. She spent the first 15 years at the bedside, working in cardiac-care environments and in medical-surgical nursing, and frequently served as a nurse preceptor. She has also worked as a clinical educator and has experience in areas including research, healthcare quality, regulatory management, nurse informatics, and healthcare finance.

In an interview with Walden University, Dr. Glendening talked about how in her current position, she empowers nursing professionals at all stages of their careers.

“I love to mentor new nurses,” she says. “That's why I'm very passionate about the role that I have right now. … I believe stronger mentorship is definitely needed on all levels, from novice nurse all the way through where I sit today, and even in positions above me. I think everybody needs a good mentor to guide them through their professional development throughout their career.”

Partnering for Career Progression

Through an innovative collaboration with Walden University, Cooper University Health Care offers its nursing team custom learning and professional development opportunities. Dr. Glendening says Walden’s Partnership Program helps create nursing education solutions that align with the healthcare system’s goals in areas like workforce development, succession planning, and employee retention.

“When we develop nurses, we want them to stay within our organization,” says Dr. Glendening, who’s been with the healthcare system for almost 10 years. “So, we want our nursing leadership to be master’s-prepared. We want our educators to be master’s-prepared. We promote professional development. So, any kind of opportunity and education partnership that we have is very important to us as an organization. And now, I want more people to be doctoral-prepared. I'm constantly encouraging my nurse educators that are thinking about earning a doctoral degree to pursue those dreams, because they're important.”

Dr. Glendening added a doctorate in nursing to her own educational portfolio in May 2020, when she graduated from Walden with a PhD in Nursing with a specialization in Leadership. She joined Walden as a part-time contributing faculty member in 2021.

In addition to exclusive tuition reduction, grant, and scholarship opportunities,1 the Walden partnership also offers continuing professional development2 activities through a suite of on-demand webinars led by healthcare experts. These and other tools help Cooper University Health Care nurses stay current in the rapidly changing healthcare environment.

“Just in the last decade, and even in the last five years, nursing has changed tremendously. Between generational changes, the type of learners that we're seeing, the type of new nurses that are coming out of nursing school … We have a lot more nurses that want to pursue nurse practitioner educational opportunities. I love that Walden has a little bit of everything for everybody,” she says.

Wisdom Learned Along the Way

In the Walden interview, which is part of the accredited university’s Inspirational Women in Healthcare series, Dr. Glendening shares many other nursing insights. You can watch the full interview here: Exploring the Impact of Nurse Mentoring as It Relates to Career Progression.

“I would tell anyone that’s a newer nurse, or even a nurse considering a change in scenery or another opportunity for professional growth, to think about why they want to do and what they're interested in. Does it align with their future career goals? Having the privilege, even before I finished my doctorate, of mentoring a lot of nurses in their nurse practitioner programs, or in their pursuit of a doctoral degree, I love that they really thought about what they're going to do with that degree and how they want to apply it,” she says.

A Focus on Nursing Education

Tapping educational and professional development opportunities through Walden’s Partnership Program is a powerful way to advance a nursing career. You can search the Partner Finder to see if your employer or professional association is already a partner.

Walden offers a wide variety of online programs for nursing, with multiple specializations. There are online bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree programs. At the doctoral level, there is a PhD in Nursing and a Doctor of Nursing (DNP) program.

Earning a nursing PhD, as Dr. Glendening did, can help prepare healthcare professionals for high-level roles in career fields such as teaching, research, and nursing leadership. The Leadership specialization in Walden’s online PhD degree program helps nursing professionals build competencies in organizational change management, team building, mediation, collaboration, and systems thinking and planning.

“As nurses, no matter what role you're in or what education trajectory you're on, if you're open to learn, then you're open to amazing things,” Dr. Glendening says.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering an online PhD in Nursing degree program. Expand your career options and earn your degree using a convenient, flexible learning platform that fits your busy life.

1Source: All tuition reductions, grants, or scholarships are subject to specific eligibility requirements. Contact a Walden University Enrollment Specialist for details. Partnerships may provide tuition savings to associated individuals who meet the criteria. Partners do not contribute to curriculum development, and partnerships do not imply preferential treatment of Walden graduates in hiring.
2Source: Walden University is accredited as a provider of nursing continuing professional development by the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Commission on Accreditation. Provider Unit Number: P0649.

The baccalaureate degree program in nursing (BSN), master’s degree program in nursing (MSN), post-graduate APRN certificate program, and Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program at Walden University are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (