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Mentoring: Not Just for Newbie Nurses

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Jami Bennett
Seton Medical Center
Austin, TX, USA

It is unclear when exactly mentoring began within the profession of nursing. According to Hodgson and Scanlan, literature on the subject dates back to the 1980's, but Florence Nightingale could be considered a mentor to others early in the profession, dating back to the Crimean War [1]. Mentoring amongst nurses is described as "a valued relationship, a nurturing process in which a more experienced person supports the professional growth and career development of another" [1]. The success in mentoring new nurses to increase retention has been documented in the literature as well as mentoring seasoned nurses for leadership roles. Literature regarding mentoring of ventricular assist device (VAD) coordinator registered nurses is lacking.

Mentoring continues to be important throughout one's nursing career, especially when changing career paths. Industry has played a role in teaching new VAD coordinators through conferences designed to give them the basic tools needed to coordinate for this patient population. VAD manufacturers have created tool kits to guide new coordinators through the stages of VAD patient management. Other learning tools such as MyLVAD.com and the MCS Collaboration website are also helpful tools for the new coordinator. This author proposes that new VAD Coordinators need a more personal experience in acclimating to their new role.

Mentoring new coordinators can help alleviate the stress of not only being a novice again, but can also help manage the transition from being task driven to seeing the overall big picture when managing a patient population throughout the continuum of VAD support. For example, in bedside nursing, one is concerned with patient care and documentation for the shift with a little education thrown in if there is time. As a VAD coordinator, the nurse must not only be concerned with the medical care of the patient across the entire continuum, but also the well-being of the caregiver(s), ensuring the VAD equipment is in good working order, education of patients, family, staff, and community members, data collection, and meeting all regulatory requirements related to VAD therapy. Additionally, many coordinators are also required to take after hours call for VAD patient needs.

Given the wide variety of duties assigned to a VAD coordinator, mentoring is important to increase retention and provide opportunities for growth. The aging nursing population is another important reason to mentor new coordinators. A survey conducted in 2013 by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing and the Forum of State Nursing Work Force Centers indicated that 55% of registered nurses still working are 50 years old or older [3]. The mentee is not the only one to benefit from this partnership. The mentor should take great pride in helping the new coordinator move from novice to eventually expert in the field of VADs.

In conclusion, expert VAD coordinators should take a more personal approach in growing new coordinators through mentoring. Seasoned VAD coordinators should consider mentoring through International Society for Heart & Lung Transplantation (ISHLT) [4]. Perhaps future mentoring opportunities could be developed through International Consortium of Circulatory Assist Clinicians (ICCAC), the organization dedicated to those that work in the field of mechanical circulatory support [5]. ■

Disclosure Statement: The author has no conflicts of interest to disclose.


  1. Hodgson, A. K., & Scanlan, J. M. (2013). A concept analysis of mentoring in nursing leadership, Open Journal of Nursing, 3, 389-394. doi:10.4236/ojn. 2013.35052
  2. Benner, P. (March 1982). From novice to expert, American Journal of Nursing, 82(3), 402-407. Retrieved from http://journals.lww.com/ajnonline/Citation/1982/ 82030/From_Novice_To_Expert_.4.aspx
  3. American Association of Colleges of Nursing, (2014). Media relations, nursing shortage. Retrieved from http://www.aacn.nche.edu/media-relations/fact-sheets/nursing-shortage
  4. International Society of Heart & Lung Transplant, (n.d.). ISHLT connect member engagement community. Engage in mentoring. Retrieved from http://community. ishlt.org/mentoringredirect/mentoring
  5. International Consortium of Circulatory Assist Clinicians, (n.d.). Membership. Retrieved from https://sites.google.com/site/vadcoordinatororg/

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