Successful Mentoring Program Grows Beyond Nursing

Mentor Group

Kristina Rivera, RN, MA, MSN is not only a nurse, she’s also a matchmaker. It’s not her official title, but it best describes her role as chair of the steering committee for the mentoring program, part of her charge as the nursing professional development specialist and nurse residency program coordinator for Stanford Children’s Health’s Center for Professional Excellence and Inquiry. Rivera helped launch the innovative eMentoring platform in August 2018 and has watched it grow substantially over the past year.

“We wanted to formalize our mentoring program for new graduate nurses and we decided a user-friendly online platform would let people connect without having to find time to meet face-to-face,” says Rivera. “We looked at the evidence and based on Jakubik’s (2015) mentoring model, we decided aspects such as feeling a sense of belonging and supporting professional development were important for us to incorporate into the mentoring program.”

The platform runs an algorithm in the background, matching mentors to mentees. The steering committee then plays matchmaker and looks over the best matches to decide if it’s truly a good match before moving forward.

The algorithm made a great match with first year nurse resident Julie Grosso, RN, who couldn’t be more pleased with her mentor, Janelle Stewart, RN. She doesn’t know how new nurses make it without a mentor during their first year.

“Confidence isn’t something you have as a new nurse. You are excited and eager, but there’s hesitation. You don’t want to make a mistake. Janelle was awesome. She created a safe space for me to talk openly, and gave me judgment-free advice. Having someone I could check in with really gave me confidence and helped me grow in my own shoes,” says Grosso.

The mentoring program not only provides new graduate nurses with the support they need to navigate their first year, it also gives mentors a chance to practice their leadership skills. The program, which spans Stanford Medicine, Stanford Health Care and Stanford Children’s Health, is incredibly popular. The first cohort kicked off with 18 new nursing residents and today there are 188 mentors and mentees within the program. The program expanded to four cohorts a year (March, June, September and December) to provide more chances to join and to better track outcomes.

Other disciplines are quickly discovering its benefits. One of the first adopters was clinical nutrition followed by pharmacy, respiratory and advanced practice practitioners who launched their own eMentoring platforms over the last year. This fall, the eMentoring platform opened to all clinical staff. An organizational clinical leadership platform is also available, which focuses on progression and succession planning. The program matches new managers with existing managers and directors in a similar fashion. 

“We are so excited for the program to become interprofessional,” Rivera says. “It’s a great opportunity for our organization, one that can potentially benefit any new employee.” 

Grosso sees one of the strengths of the program as being able to design your own relationship with your mentor, making it as formal or informal, or as frequent or infrequent, as you desire. She also liked that her mentor was not from her department—the NICU—but still in critical care, in the PICU. She appreciated the fresh perspective her mentor provided, and the confidentiality when speaking about challenges and barriers within her unit. Grosso is amazed how spot on the match was via the platform. Not only did she feel free to share anything without hesitation, she also felt inspired to set goals and continue to learn and grow as a nurse. Plus, signing up was easy. She filled out a form online and waited for the match.

“Some people hesitate to join because they don’t feel comfortable sharing with someone they don’t know, or they think they don’t have time to participate, but you really get to make it whatever you want it to be. I can’t imagine navigating my first year of residency without it,” Grosso concludes.

For more information regarding the Stanford Children’s Health Mentoring Program, email SCHeMentoring@stanfordchildrens.org.

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