Mentoring is a broad caring role that encompasses formal or informal supporting, guiding, coaching, teaching, role modeling, counseling, advocating, networking, and sharing. Mentoring occurs within and/or outside the clinical setting and includes personal and career guidance.
Mentoring has been defined as a one-to-one long-term trusting relationship (spanning months to many years) that develops over time between a novice and a more experienced practitioner and promotes support during transition periods, teaching/learning, increased coping skills, and a safe environment for sharing and discovery.
A mentor is an experienced practitioner who establishes a caring relationship with a novice nurse as a trusted counselor, guide, role model, teacher, and friend, providing opportunities for personal and career development, growth, and support to the less experienced individual.
A mentee is a novice nurse or an experienced individual changing jobs or careers who benefits from the caring support, wisdom, guidance, role modeling, networking skills and sharing of a more experienced nurse willing to help the novice in his/her personal and career journey.
Precepting is different than mentoring. Precepting is a narrower role, usually confined to the clinical setting during work hours and for a shorter defined time period (weeks to a few months). The purpose of precepting is specifically to orient the new nurse employee to his/her role and work environment, to guide the orientee in adapting to patient care and the world of nursing, and to supervise and evaluate the orientee’s progress.
A preceptor is an experienced nurse who serves as a short-term clinical teacher, role model, supporter, supervisor, and evaluator to a nurse orientee who is acclimating to the complexities of patient care and the role of professional nurse in a given clinical setting and during work hours.