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Tips for Finding a Healthcare Career

Tips for Finding a Healthcare Career

Megan Malugani | Monster Contributing Writer

Expect Support, Not Miracles

You can expect a certain level of support and advice from a mentor, but he can’t solve your problems for you. Perhaps the most valuable quality a mentor can offer is perspective, Eagles says. “A new nurse’s confidence can erode quickly when bad things happen,” she says. “A mentor can put the situation in perspective and let her or him know that these things happen to everyone.” Through the years, a mentor can give you feedback, serve as a sounding board and identify resources that may be helpful to you, Pietranton says. “Once you’re out in the real world, you’ll inevitably face some challenges,” she notes. “It’s always great to have more seasoned folks to count on.”

Cultivate the Relationship

Health professionals shouldn’t be intimidated about seeking a mentor’s time, but they should be organized and cognizant of their mentor’s time restraints, Eagles says. She recommends that mentees put some focused energy into organizing their thoughts and concerns before talking with their mentors, so that the time is spent wisely.

Mentees can learn a lot about behind-the-scenes organizational issues and values from mentors, and the knowledge can translate into quicker promotions or better raises, Wiezalis says. Healthcare professionals are working in a feverish environment these days, he explains, and don’t have much time to plot their own professional futures. “A health professional’s altruism may anchor him or her down,” he says. “A mentor can point out that they have an obligation to continue to grow professionally.” A mentor should honestly answer such questions as “What is the informal organization of this hospital,” “What does it take to be promoted here,” or “What type of volunteer or committee work is valued by this institution?”

The More Mentors the Merrier

Experts stress that healthcare professionals can benefit greatly from having more than one mentor. For example, one mentor could provide expertise on clinical practice, another on research, and a third could advise on professional development or administrative issues. “Usually you find islands of excellence, and a mentee can really grow by taking the best of a collection of mentors and developing those qualities,” Wiezalis says. Seek out mentors from different aspects of your job and use them to develop your support network.

Return the Favor

When a mentee becomes senior in an organization, she should consider it a responsibility to carry on the mentoring tradition. The generation of health professionals who are mentored today will be taking care of their mentors — and the rest of the population – in the future, notes Dot Mundy, MN, RN, professional development coordinator at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore. “Healthcare is a tough place to be right now,” she says. “If we’re going to keep competent and caring people in the field, we need to mentor them.”

Rewarding Mentors

Mentors are often unrecognized heroes. “Many institutions are counterproductive when it comes to mentoring,” he says. “They say they value mentoring, but they don’t demonstrate it in raises, promotions or [a lighter] workload. Institutions should think of mentoring as significant to the attraction and retention of employees.”

Mentoring should be built into the employee evaluation system, and mentors should receive tangible rewards, Wiezalis says. Rewards could range from a gift certificate or special annual dinner for mentors to discretionary salary increases, he suggests. Mentors should also receive continuing education to improve their comfort level with mentoring and their mentoring skills, he says. Most importantly, “mentors should never be punished for the time it takes them to do it,” he says.

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