1. Allred, Kelly PhD, RN-BC, CNE
  2. Sakowicz, Kathleen BS

Article Content

Peer mentoring among undergraduate nursing students has been reported,1,2 including an integrative review of 11 studies evaluating research on peer mentorship.3 Mentoring graduate students in nursing also has been studied,4,5 as has the mentoring of nurse faculty.6,7 However, mentoring nursing students by alumni has not been widely studied. Two reports about a mentoring program using alumni as mentors were found in the literature. In 2001, researchers from a public university in Georgia matched at-risk nursing students (n = 24) with alumni of the school. Program goals included providing a more supportive educational climate, easing socialization into the profession, and improving graduation rates.8 This program was successful with 87.5% of the at-risk students (n = 21) finishing the semester; their success was at least partially attributed to the mentoring program.


Another study specifically matching nursing students with nursing alumni was completed in Canada.9 Nursing alumni were matched with current nursing students. Over several years, 146 nursing students participated in the mentoring program. Through this process, the students reported that they benefitted from the emotional support provided by mentors and received educational support through clarification of course work and opportunities for other learning experiences. In addition, students indicated that they learned more about the nursing profession and the roles and responsibilities of nurses through interaction with their mentor. The alumni mentors reported feeling satisfied providing support for their mentee through sharing their knowledge and experience.


Mentoring Program Development

A large metropolitan university in the southeast United States developed a mentoring program for nursing students using alumni of the college. The program was developed and administered by the alumni chapter board in an effort to better prepare students for their future professional endeavors. The primary goal for the mentee was to become a career-ready professional who could confidently transition into the workforce with appropriate expectations aided by a knowledgeable mentor already experiencing success in her/his nursing career. The primary goal for the mentor was to provide students with the tools needed to succeed in transitioning to the workforce. For guidance in establishing a successful mentoring relationship, a handbook was developed for use by both the mentor and the mentee. The handbook included information on goal setting, expectations, suggestions for conversation topics, ways nursing students can approach the relationship, and ways mentors could encourage, coach, and guide their mentee.


An intent of interest was submitted by participants in response to email notification about the program, which was voluntary. Mentor-mentee matches were made based on data collected from participants, with the most weight placed on the expertise of the mentor and interest of the mentee. Mentees were given information about their mentor, and it was their responsibility to reach out to their mentor within 1 week. This was done to ensure the privacy of the student should they ultimately decide not to participate in the program.


Both mentors and mentees committed to participate in the program for the academic year and to have monthly interactions; however, this was not enforced. Establishing a date and time for the next meeting was encouraged each time the dyad had an interaction. The formal requirements of the mentorship program concluded when the student graduated from the nursing program.


Participant Feedback

Mentee Data

An anonymous, short survey (12 items; 4 free text) was distributed to all participants when the mentorship program concluded. The mentee response rate was 24.3% (n = 17), and the mentor response rate was 40% (n = 30). Mentee data indicated that 59% found interactions with their mentor constructive, with some identifying this as a personal benefit and others identifying this as a professional benefit. One student wrote, "I benefited enormously from our interactions, mostly what different departments were like and interview skills." Mentees who did not find the relationship with their mentor constructive (n = 7) reported that the primary reason for this was lack of the number of interactions, not necessarily a lack of quality in the interactions. It appeared that there were a few who connected once for the introduction and then had little to no further communication.


The survey collected data on the best ways to communicate with students. What seemed to be most successful was using more than 1 way to communicate, including text messaging, email, face-to-face meetings, and phone calls, with students reporting the most satisfaction with face-to-face meetings and text messaging combined. More than half of the mentees (n = 11, 65%) would have preferred more structured programing throughout the year, and 53% (n = 9) intended to stay in touch with their mentor beyond the conclusion of the program. If given the opportunity, 82% of the mentees (n = 14) would consider being involved in the program in the future.


Mentor Data

More than 73% of the mentors (n = 22) reported that they were able to provide appropriate resources and assistance to their mentee, and slightly more than 76% (n = 23) reported finding interactions with their mentee constructive. When mentors were asked whether their mentee was responsive, 70% (n = 21) reported yes, 20% (n = 6) reported somewhat, and 10% (n = 3) reported no. One typical comment included that the mentee was responsive "only in the beginning."


The mentors also identified program limitations. The most common response was no limitations (40%, n = 12), followed by time/schedule/distance issues (33%, n = 10). A full 70% (n = 21) reported that they intend to stay in touch with their mentee beyond the termination of the program. The mentors were also asked what they gained from the mentoring process. Comments from those who responded positively (83.3%, n = 25) included "satisfaction in aiding in the professional transition of a student" and "sharing knowledge and thoughts about nursing with a student who was enthusiastic about nursing." Another mentor commented that the "mentorship reinforced the importance of relationships between experienced nurses and novice nurses."



The most significant take-home message from the survey was to encourage use of multiple methods of communication. Doing this may improve the perceived benefits of the program, and communicating via text messages, as well as face-to-face meetings, may be key to a positive relationship. The voluntary nature of the program will also be stressed in the future so that no student feels obligated to participate. This information will be included in a revised handbook for the program. More structured events with the dyads are also needed to assist them in keeping the relationship going.


With the first year of this program complete, administrators believe that positive connections were made between some dyads, and the relationships have the potential to impact careers. Continuing to make the program a positive and productive experience for all participants will be a focus during the next year of the program.




1. Walker D, Verklan T. Peer mentoring during practicum to reduce anxiety in first-semester nursing students. J Nurs Educ. 2016;55(11):651-654. [Context Link]


2. Latham CL, Singh H, Ringl KK. Enhancing the educational environment for diverse nursing students through mentoring and shared governance. J Nurs Educ. 2016;55(11):605-614. [Context Link]


3. Wong C, Stake-Doucet N, Lombardo C, Sanzone L, Tsimicalis A. An integrative review of peer mentorship programs for undergraduate nursing students. J Nurs Educ. 2016;55(3):141-149. [Context Link]


4. Welch S. Virtual mentoring program within an online doctoral nursing education program: a phenomenological study. Int J Nurs Educ Scholarsh. 2017;14(1):128-130. [Context Link]


5. Valentin-Welch M. Evaluation of a national e-mentoring program for ethnically diverse student nurse-midwives and student midwives. J Midwifery Womens Health. 2016;61(6):759-767. [Context Link]


6. Hulton LJ, Sawin EM, Trimm D, Graham A, Powell N. An evidence-based nursing faculty mentoring program. Int J Nurs Educ. 2016;8(1):41-46. [Context Link]


7. Reid TP, Hinderer KA, Jarosinski JM, Mister BJ, Seldomridge LA. Expert clinician to clinical teacher: developing a faculty academy and mentoring initiative. Nurse Educ Pract. 2013;13(4):288-293. [Context Link]


8. Price CR, Balogh J. Using alumni to mentor nursing students at risk. Nurs Educ. 2001;26(5):209-211. [Context Link]


9. Sword W, Byrne C, Drummond-Young M, Harmer M, Rush J. Nursing alumni as student mentors: nurturing professional growth. Nurs Educ Today. 2002;22(5):427-432. [Context Link]