Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioners (PMHNPs) tackle the daily mental and emotional burdens of their patients. The weight of these burdens can take a physical and emotional toll on PMHNPs. “Workforce evidence collected during the pandemic through the Nurse Wellbeing at Risk survey indicates that the youngest nurses (Generation Z born between 1997 and 2015) are experiencing more mental health and well-being challenges than older generations” (Sherman & Labat, 2021, p. 37). Universities training young nurses to become future PMHNPs must make sure the PMHNP-student has access to information, support, and resources not only for themselves, but also for their patients. The PMHNP student may have access to mentors externally at clinical sites and internally from the university faculty. Mentorship is crucial to the mental health of the student who is often tackling multiple roles while trying to complete their education. Mentorship between students and faculty looks like an accountability relationship. The mentor and mentee work together to develop goals and timelines for following up on goals. Mentorship in this context also includes making sure the student is taking care of themselves from a holistic perspective. Mentorship goals for any nursing program should include interventions to “nurture the nurturers, and to retain the leaders among us…” (Waite & Nardi, 2017, p. 381).
Universities have a better handle on mentorship than most employers. Employers of newly graduated PMHNPs and Doctoral Nurse Practitioners (DNPs) have patients waiting to be seen; therefore, training and mentorship assignments are not prioritized. New graduates and new employees are given little to no training and are often expected to start seeing patients within days of starting the job. The new employee begins the job with a bitter taste in their mouth and this can lead to ongoing dissatisfaction with the workplace environment. High turnover rates can be seen in all areas of nursing. Mentorship programs bring a lot of value to an employer and they can “ultimately benefit the organization in measurable outcomes of employee and student productivity, retention, and satisfaction” (Waite & Nardi, 2017, p. 380).
Mentorships can include members of interdisciplinary teams. A PMHNP may be on a team with a psychiatrist, a registered nurse (RN), a pharmacist, and a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW). When working with interdisciplinary health care systems, a PMHNP or DNP “must develop and implement skills that also support strategy development to effectively address organizational issues”(Waite & Nardi, 2017, p. 376). Understanding how each team member supports the whole system is integral for success and can be done within the confines of a mentor-mentee relationship. Time and money are two obstacles that keep interprofessional collaboration from taking off and maintaining the support needed longevity. One other challenge that some may not want to admit is the fear of appearing incompetent in a new role. New employees, whether they have a DNP or 20 years of RN experience, want to come across to the team as competent. A mentor-mentee relationship can be seen as “hierarchical” where the mentor has more authority than the mentee (Waite & Nardi, 2017, p. 375). Some people may feel they worked too hard to get through school to be seen as inexperienced or they may feel they are supposed to work autonomously. They are both right and wrong in their thinking. They did work hard in school and should be able to work independently to a point. However, if we want to see healthcare transform into the dynamic entity that it can be- we all must work together for the good of everyone.
Sherman, R. O., & Labat, A. M. (2021). Managing new nurse fear and anxiety: Simple strategies can help with transition to practice. American Nurse Journal, 16(4), 37–39.
Waite, R., & Nardi, D. (2017). Seeking lifelong mentorship and menteeship in the Doctoral Advanced Nursing Practice role. In H. M. Dreher & M. E. Smith Glasgow (Eds.), DNP role development for Doctoral Advanced Nursing Practice (Second, pp. 375–390). Springer Publishing Company.