Nursing educators globally have called for mentorship to help address the nursing faculty shortage. Mentorship is perceived as vital to maintaining high-quality education programs. While there is emerging evidence to support the value of mentorship in other disciplines, the extant state of the evidence for mentorship in nursing academia is not well-established. Little is known about the current state of mentorship or the barriers and facilitators for implementing mentorship programs in Canadian nursing schools.
The overarching aim of this dissertation was to explore the current state of mentorship in nursing academia. Three methodologies were employed to examine this phenomenon:
1. A systematic review of the evidence.
2. A cross sectional survey of nursing faculty.
3. Semi-structured interviews with nursing faculty members from across Canada.
Descriptive statistics and thematic analysis were used to analyze the data. The results of all three phases were integrated to develop a more robust and meaningful picture of mentorship.
Within the literature there is no clear differentiation and operationalization of program and individual outcomes of mentorship nor is there discussion of the role of formal (matched) and informal (self-selected) mentorship within schools that identify mentorship programs. While generally, in the literature at an individual level, mentorship is reported to positively impact behavioural, career, attitudinal, relational, and motivational outcomes; it is important to note that the methodological quality of the mentorship studies is weak. Additionally, while outcomes can be categorized as noted above, it is also apparent that whether academics seek out their own mentors through informal and established networks or are matched with mentors in a formalized program it is difficult to untangle whether the outcomes are a result of the formal program or individual efforts.
The survey and interview data revealed that the majority of Canadian nursing schools lack formal mentorship programs and those that exist are largely informal, vary in scope and components, and lack common definitions or goals. Individual perceptions of factors influencing mentorship program implementation include (a) training and guidelines; (b) quality of relationships; (c) choice and availability of mentors; (d) organizational support; (e) time and competing priorities; (f) culture of the institution; and, (g) evaluation of mentorship outcomes. Dyad, peer, group, constellation, and distance mentorship models are present and components include guidelines, training, professional development workshops, purposeful linking of mentors and mentees, and mentorship coordinators. Evaluation of mentorship, where it exists, remains mostly descriptive, anecdotal, and lacks common evaluative metrics.
The results from this study confirm lack of formalized mentorship programs in Canadian schools of nursing. To ensure success in developing mentorship programs, academic leaders need to consider multiple barriers, facilitators, models and components to meet their specific needs. Further rigorous evaluation of mentorship programs and components is needed to identify if mentorship programs are achieving specified goals.