"Healthcare professionals in academia who are privy to formal mentorship by senior faculty early on in their careers enjoy a host of advantages, such as faster career advancement and higher job satisfaction," says Abraham Brody, PhD, RN, GNP-BC, an assistant professor at the New York University Rory Meyers College of Nursing (NYU Meyers).
The problem, explains Brody, who is also the associate director of the Hartford Institute for Geriatric Nursing (HIGN), is that there are not enough senior faculty to go around. Academic institutions across the board and particularly in nursing and other health sciences are facing a shortage of senior and mid-career faculty due to an aging and retiring faculty. "The issue is effectively compounded," says Brody. "Early career individuals are now placed in a position where we need them to mature more quickly and become mentors themselves."
In 2000, the John A. Hartford Foundation, in order to prepare the next generation of expert gerontological academic leaders and researchers, established the "Building Academic Geriatric Nursing Capacity" (BAGNC) program.
In 2011, alumni of the BAGNC pre-doctoral and post-doctoral programs, now part of the National Hartford Center for Gerontological Nursing Excellence (NHCGNE) which is hosted by the HIGN through a grant from the John a Hartford Foundation formed a "Peer Mentoring Committee" and developed a "Peer Mentoring Program," using the "mentoring forward" peer mentoring model to enhance new scholars' and fellows' experience in the program, utilizing mentors who were program alumni just a few years ahead of them in their career.
Given the now more than ever dire need for mentors in the field of geriatric nursing, Dr. Brody led a team of researchers from various institutions in assessing the mentoring model employed by the BAGNC. Surveying the experiences of mentors and mentees, the evaluation, "Evaluation of a peer mentoring program for early career gerontological nursing faculty and its potential for application to other fields in nursing and health sciences," published in Nursing Outlook, examines areas of need for sustaining the program into the future.
"Overall, 64.7% of mentors and 72.7% of mentees found value in the program," said Dr. Brody. Mentees suggested the program places a stronger emphasis on encouraging future mentees to proactively engage their mentors. Both mentees and mentors saw goal setting at the start of the program as an area for improvement.
Among the various benefits observed, mentees stated that the program had increased the scope of their network, improved their ability to work at a distance in teams, and provided them an opportunity to learn more about research activities and experiences at other institutions.
The NHCGNE at HIGN is currently further developing out its peer mentorship program, which will be open to all early career faculty, post-doctoral fellows and pre-doctoral students at NHCGNE Member Schools in the coming year.
Beyond early career gerontological nursing faculty, the researchers outlined the program's potential for application to other fields in nursing and health sciences and noted the model is low-cost as mentors and mentees are both volunteers. The program could also serve as a model for other professional organizations, academic institutions, and consortiums to enhance and extend the formal vertical mentorship provided to early academic career individuals.
"The structure of the program and lessons learned are equally applicable to other areas of nursing as well as other health care fields," says Dr. Brody. "By providing lateral mentoring that crosses institutional boundaries, we can expose early career academics to a diversity of thought and methodology, allowing for a multitude of career opportunities and collaborations."
Researcher Affiliations: Abraham A. Brody, RN, PhD, GNP-BCa,b, Linda Edelman, PhD, MPhil, RNc, Elena O. Siegel, PhD, RNd, Victoria Foster, PhD, RNe, Donald E. Bailey, Jr., PhD, RN, FAANf, Ashley Leak Bryant, PhD, RN-BC, OCNg, Stewart M. Bond, PhD, RN, AOCNh.
a Hartford Institute for Geriatric Nursing, New York University College of Nursing, New York, NY
b James J Peters Bronx VA Medical Center, Bronx, NY
c Hartford Center for Geriatric Nursing Excellence, University of Utah School of Nursing, Salt Lake City, UT
d Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at the University of California, Davis, Sacramento, CA
e Clayton State University School of Nursing, Morrow, GA
f Duke University School of Nursing, Durham, NC
g University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Nursing, Chapel Hill, NC
h Boston College Connell School of Nursing, Chestnut Hill, MA
Acknowledgements: The authors would like to acknowledge the John A Hartford Foundation for its generous funding of this program, and the administrative support provided by the National Hartford Center of Gerontological Nursing Excellence.
The Hartford Institute for Geriatric Nursing:
The mission of the Hartford Institute for Geriatric Nursing (HIGN) is to ensure older adults achieve optimal health and quality of life. The commitment to this mission exhibited by the dedicated Hartford Institute leadership, staff and affiliate organizations has made the HIGN today a globally recognized geriatric presence. The Hartford Institute for Geriatric Nursing is the geriatric arm of the NYU College of Nursing, and has become, over the years, a beacon for all those who wish to advance geriatrics in nursing.
About the NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing
NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing is a global leader in nursing education, research, and practice. It offers a Bachelor of Science with a major in Nursing, a Master of Science and Post-Master's Certificate Programs, a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree and a Doctor of Philosophy in nursing research and theory development.
About The John A. Hartford Foundation
Founded in 1929 by John and George Hartford of the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company (A&P), The John A. Hartford Foundation, based in New York City, is a private, nonpartisan philanthropy dedicated to improving the care of older adults. As 10,000 people turn 65 every day, the largest-ever generation of older adults is living and working longer, redefining later life, and enriching our communities and society. Comprehensive, coordinated, and continuous care that keeps older adults as healthy as possible is essential to sustaining these valuable contributions. The John A. Hartford Foundation believes that its investments in aging experts and innovations can transform how care is delivered, lowering costs and dramatically improving the health of older adults. For more information, visit http://www.