A REFLECTION ON MY SKILLS AND QUALITIES AS A MENTEE
A Reflection on my Skills and Qualities as a Mentee
INTRODUCTION TO MENTORING
Mentoring can be traced back to the 1500s when, in the Greek myth of Odysseus, Ulysses appointed a wise man and valued friend named Mentor to care for his son Telemachus while he was fighting in the Trojan War Telemachus learned his most significant lessons about life and about becoming an effective ruler from Mentor. From this myth, qualities of a mentor have been described. These include coach, guide, protector, advisor, teacher, and friend (, 2001).
Mentoring has been described as a process that helps an individual adapt to new and expanded professional roles. Mentoring involves a nurturing relationship between a mentor and a mentee. Mentoring occurs when a senior person (the mentor) provides information, advice, and emotional support for a junior person (the mentee) in a relationship lasting over an extended period of time and marked by substantial emotional commitment by both parties. The mentor takes an active role in the professional development of the mentee. "Inherent in the concept of mentoring is a personal, one-to-one, nurturing relationship between the mentor and the mentee” (, 2001).
Mentoring has been an effective strategy in many disciplines, including all the health professions, to develop expertise and leadership within the profession. The traditional concept of mentoring involves a voluntary alliance between an experienced senior professional and a less advanced one, for the dual purposes of career development and the enhancement of the profession. It is impossible to separate mentoring from learning. Mentoring or teaching is an interactive process that promotes learning in an individual. It consists of a conscious, deliberate set of actions that help individuals gain new knowledge, change attitudes, adopt new behaviors, or perform new skills ( & , 2004).
Mentoring is a special way to transfer knowledge, and it can occur in all the settings in which scientific inquiry is being deliberately pursued. Development of nursing science is the foundation for the growth of the nursing discipline and profession. Knowledge development takes place in the various settings in which nursing is learned and practiced. The processes and products of knowledge-work belong in academic environments for many disciplines but the practice professions both use and create their knowledge beyond traditional scholastic settings. Practice professionals continually merge their knowing with their doing (, 2002).
This paper will not focus on the role of mentors but rather on that of mentees in the field of the nursing profession. A self reflection on the author’s skills and qualities as a mentee will also be provided. Questioning one’s knowing and understanding in practice is an integral aspect of reflection. By doing so reflection offers a focus for caring and to become more self aware of the contradictions that exist between how they would like to practice and what they actually do. Each health care professional is encouraged to reflect on the new learning.
The role of the mentor has already been significantly tackled in various literatures. A successful mentor helps the mentee recognize her/his strengths and weaknesses; encourages the mentee to establish goals for further performance improvement; monitors and reviews progress in achieving identified goals; identifies problems that may be affecting progress; generates an action plan for dealing with identified problems; and assists the mentee in realizing his/her full potential. Thus one could see that mentor have standards that they are expected to meet.
On the other hand, mentees are not a passive part of the mentor-mentee relationship. As a mentee, we also have standards that we are expected to meet. These standards are basically communication and working relationships, facilitation of learning, assessment, role modeling, creating an environment for learning, improving practice, a knowledge base, and course development. Such standards are not mandated but logic will tell anyone that in order to effectively learn from a mentor, these standards are needed to be met. The next few paragraphs will discuss four criteria for an effective mentee as well as the author’s reflection on it.
Positive Mentor-Mentee Relationship
In order for mentoring to be effective, a harmonious relationship must exist between the mentor and the mentee. If for example, the mentor and the mentee are not in good terms, the mentee would most likely have a hard time approaching the mentee regarding teaching and learning concerns. It is very likely that as a mentee, I will not effectively learn if I have an unpleasant relationship with my mentor.
According to (2006), a mentee must ask himself a few questions in advance in order to ensure that the mentoring relationship will provide the help he needs. This would imply that I need to tell the mentor about myself so that he or she would also understand me and could provide me the best possible way of imparting me knowledge. The mentor should make an effort to get to know the mentee since this will allow the mentee to succeed (, 2002). Aside from that, there are other aspects that should be present in our relationship. As a mentee, for me to truly to benefit from the help offered by a mentoring relationship, I would need mentor participation that is based on mutual trust; accurate and reliable information; realistic exploration of their goals, decisions, and options; challenges to their ideas, beliefs, and actions; holistic support. This is an effort that we both should work upon together.
Effective and Open Communication
Communication is a big key in the mentor-mentee relationship (, 2002). As a mentee, I feel that I need to be provided with career guidance, advice and leadership since there are times that I find the transition to an actual hospital environment to be challenging and stressful. I perceive my mentors as individuals who help new nurses and health care support workers give their best at what matters most - patient care. Aside from a harmonious relationship in order to achieve this, I also realized that there needs to be an open and two-way communication between my mentor and me.
As a mentee, I realized that open communication should always occur within a context. I feel that when I have personal problems and frustrations, I need to talk them out with my mentor since it could significantly affect my learning and performance. However, I also need to be able to describe issues and concerns as objectively as possible, and not describe them as my emotions see fit. To be able to relate objectively will facilitate more effective problem solving and communication skill development (, 2006). Also key to a real relationship and an aspect in effective communication is being able to talk openly and honestly about subjects like race, gender, and perception issues that may have a real effect on one's upward mobility. Such discussions build trust, which is vital to any long-term bond (, 2005).
I also feel that although in this relationship I am only the mentee, this does not mean that I cannot voice out my views on a certain practice or procedure. It does not matter that it differs with your mentor because as long as an open communication exists, we will be able to resolve the conflicts that might arise out of it.
A Network of Support
As a mentee, I just cannot rely on my own or on my mentor alone for learning and coping. I realize that I may choose a network of groups because of the advantages associated with group learning. On the part of the mentor, groups are an economical way to teach a number of individuals at one time. On my part as a mentee, I would also be able to interact with each other and learn from the experiences of others. With this kind of learning, I realized that I could possibly learn more than what the mentor imparts to me. A network of support can also foster the development of positive attitudes that help me meet learning objectives ( & , 2004). This is what I have reflected when our mentored encouraged group teaching technique and support groups in educating mentees. I realized that I can learn from what my mentor teaches me but I can also learn more from other mentees.
In view of having a network of support as a criterion for successful learning as a mentee, I have reflected that it is important to consider that teamwork leads to success. Each and every mentee has to share and collaborate in order to truly learn, and so this is what I did.
Additionally, meeting others will help a mentee locate needed resources in a timely manner, which allows more time to focus on high-priority learning responsibilities (, 2006). As a mentee, it is my duty to learn what support is available and the procedures for making help available for students and their families.
For me, a feedback is a two-way street. Not only mentors should provide feedback to mentees but mentees should also provide feedback to their mentors. My mentor gives me feedback regarding the nursing practices and procedures that I do and I view them as something that can help me improve. Constructive feedback is given so as to promote further learning on the part of the mentees.
On the contrary, providing constructive feedback to a mentor can be difficult, because as a mentee, I may perceive that my mentor holds power over me and my future. Even as students, we have this fear that if we give constructive criticisms to our teachers they might give us a low grade or worse, even if we know that we are right in our criticisms. The same fear is still within nursing mentees.
However, if the mentor has established a trusting climate, my constructive comments will help him or her become a better mentor. Some key points to remember include the following: Always start with positive comments, provide a general description of how you believe the observation went, analyze your strengths and weaknesses, and provide solutions of how you can improve. Finally, remember that maintaining a sense of humor is always a plus in the mentor-mentee relationship (, 2006).
All these are just a few factors which I deem necessary for a successful learning on my part as a mentee. However, my mentor could also benefit from such. Mentoring requires a high degree of involvement, commitment, and energy. It demands an acceptance, an amicability, respect, trust, and confidence in ourselves and others. It necessitates a willingness to be challenged, take risks, and work with uncertainty. Mentors and mentees must display a desire to learn, grow, and develop and be willing to open themselves to that which life calls forth. Mentoring is a mutual process of transformation, one that inspires and enriches lives (, 2001). Lastly, I have come to realize that there are no failures in a mentorship. Both the mentor and the mentee will learn as much from mistakes as from the successes.
In a mentoring relationship, mentees and mentors both win, resulting in long-term benefits not only for the local hospital but for society at large. The degree of learning of the mentee largely depends on the capability of the mentor. Mentors will require robust preparation for their role. Mentors also must possess a repertoire of skills in their discipline or area of practice. As a mentee, I benefit from career-enhancing association of learning the skills being taught by my mentor. I have the opportunity to develop a sense of competence and self-worth in my role as a mentee, as well as to develop skills that may profit advancement in the entire health care organization. As a mentee, it is also important to observe how the mentor teaches effectively since I could possibly follow the strategy in the near future. Ideally, all nurses evolve as mentors and mentees, using creative innovations to develop as leaders.
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