1. Kennedy, Maureen Shawn MA, RN, FAAN


Mark Nurses Week by engaging in mentorship.


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I'm weary of reading articles on nurse bullying and hearing accounts of mean-spirited nurses who won't reach out to help new colleagues. These are real problems, but I'm tired of hearing the "same old" gripes with few solutions put forward. What I long for is news of how nurses do support each other. When I talk with nurses who seem to have successful careers, almost all say that mentors-either formal or informal-were crucial in helping them get to where they are. AJN's editorial board consists of an impressive group of nurses who represent a variety of backgrounds and professional roles, including clinicians, professors, administrators, and organizational board members. I asked them recently what mentoring meant to their career development. Here are a few of their responses:

Figure. Maureen Shaw... - Click to enlarge in new window Maureen Shawn Kennedy

* "Each mentor believed in me, helped me see my gifts, and gave me nuggets to consider, always pushing me to grow beyond where I was at the moment."


* "They instilled an intellectual curiosity I never dreamed of. They challenged me, they inspired me, they gave me the confidence to explore possibilities I didn't know existed for a small-town girl."


* "Her unwavering commitment and unselfish desire to strengthen my leadership capacity helped me inch closer to achieving my vision."



Several mentioned informal mentors-trusted colleagues, confidants, and friends who served as sounding boards and helped them find the path when they weren't sure what to do next. I've had several such relationships over the years, some dating back to my days as a nursing student. Forty years later, I still reach out to them for advice and counsel.


Recently, Maja Djukic, an assistant professor at the New York University College of Nursing and a 2012 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Nurse Faculty Scholar (NFS), contacted me on behalf of her NFS cohort. They wanted to continue a tradition whereby a cohort establishes a legacy gift. Aware that the RWJF has announced the closing of 10 scholar initiatives, including the NFS program, as the foundation redesigns its leadership development programs, these nurses also wanted to create something sustainable. Djukic asked me if AJN would be interested in partnering with them.


From the start, mentorship has been a hallmark of the NFS program. The program was started in 2008 "to develop the next generation of national leaders in academic nursing[horizontal ellipsis] by providing mentorship, leadership training and salary and research support to young faculty." Administered through the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing, the NFS program awards substantial fellowships to selected junior faculty. These scholars work rigorously to improve their skills in teaching, research, and leadership. Each scholar works with three mentors: two senior faculty members and researchers from the scholar's home institution (one from its school of nursing, one from another division), and a "national" mentor from another institution.


Djukic's cohort wanted both to honor the mentorship they'd received and to continue this legacy of supporting colleagues in their professional development; and AJN was on board. We are pleased to announce the Nurse Faculty Scholars/AJN Mentored Writing Award, an annual program to promote mentorship and develop scholarly writing skills. The program will be open to all RNs. Each candidate, working with a mentor, will develop and submit a paper to AJN. Papers that meet certain criteria will be accepted as submissions; from this pool, an awards committee will choose a winning paper. (Detailed information is forthcoming in our June issue.) The winner will receive a $500 award to support travel for presenting the paper at a conference.


We're excited about this new program. AJN has previously partnered with several nursing specialty organizations to conduct mentored writing programs; we've seen firsthand how helpful it is for new writers to have mentors supporting their first forays into scholarly publishing. Many of those mentees reported feeling that, without the guidance of a mentor, they would never have been published. Many have gone on to distinguished careers in nursing practice, education, and research, and to become mentors themselves.


It's vital for both our profession and our patients that every nurse reaches her or his full potential-and all of us can use some help in getting there. This year, give yourself a gift for Nurses Week: find a mentor or become one. And think about that paper you might write together.