Sept. 16, 2021

Mentoring program gives nursing students a window seat into the life of a nurse

NurseMentor pairs practising alumni RNs with nursing students for exchange of real-world advice and professional connections
NurseMentor Wendy Mihell and mentee Kate Hu

NurseMentor Wendy Mihell and mentee Kate Hu

When she registered for UCalgary’s NurseMentor program last fall, Wendy Mihell, BN’16 said, “I am of the mindset that nurses should support other nurses and foster a positive environment for new nurses.”

As a paediatric hospice RN with experience in community health, acute care and oncology nursing among other specialties, Mihell hoped that by supporting a nursing student she might stay in tune with contemporary nursing education and build a lasting relationship.

At that time, Mihell was paired with third-year student Kate Hu based on their shared interests and common ground. Hu had hoped to learn from someone with practical work experience who could offer useful advice, and she says the one-on-one partnership with Mihell helped her “build a genuine connection with a fellow professional.”

My mentor was exactly who I was looking for. She had lots of work experience in different nursing settings, and gave me applicable advice on things like NCLEX prep and job finding.”
- Mentee, Kate Hu

Hu says she was feeling lost in the beginning, in terms of goals and questions, but her mentor was patient and open-minded and offered plenty of ideas and resources to help navigate school and her future career. “She was also very honest about the benefits and challenges on her own journey in nursing.”

Mihell feels she was able to genuinely help guide Hu through the slow process of become a nurse and says it was immensely rewarding.

“I really enjoyed participating in the NurseMentor program last year," she says. "As a mentor, I am so happy that I got to meet my mentee, who is so keen, sweet, smart and hard-working.”

Both Mihell and Hu will return to the program when the season reopens next week, this time with new mentoring matches. Every year, returning mentors and mentees are matched with new partners to help expand their scope and to learn from different points of view.

It has been shown over the last four years of NurseMentor programming that undergraduate nursing students need and benefit from the guidance of experienced RNs. Likewise, nursing alumni who are mentors have found the program rewarding and worthwhile.

“In a way, nursing is a profession, but also a mindset and a lifestyle,” Mihell says. “I think we all know that the long years of nursing school can be a challenge, and NurseMentor provides an outlet to support students in ways I wish were possible when I was a nursing student.

“Not only is helping new nurses rewarding, but it also provides an opportunity to impart what you value in nursing onto a new generation.”

Mihell and Hu will stay in contact informally this year, while Hu transitions to her nursing career after she graduates in the spring. In the meantime, Hu will be formally partnered for her final year with a mentor who has experience in one of the areas she holds a special interest in: either perinatal nursing, intensive care or another nursing specialty she highlighted in her mentoring profile. And a new student will then get to benefit from Mihell’s patient guidance as a dedicated mentor.

“I recommend the mentor program to anyone who wants to learn more about the nursing career and build a genuine connection,” Hu says. “It doesn't take much time, but the experience is very rewarding."

Undergraduate UCalgary Nursing students and nursing alumni are invited to join NurseMentor and to experience the many benefits of mentoring. Click below to learn more or to join now.