Clinical Nurse Specialist Kirsi Lindfors is employed at the HUS Children and Adolescents department and is working on a doctoral dissertation on orientation. She became interested in the subject in her own work, providing orientation for new nurses. Orientation should not be confused with mentoring.
“Orientation is about learning clinical skills and practices, while being mentored, in nursing, means growing into the profession of a nurse,” says Lindfors.
Every new nurse at the Children and Adolescents unit is assigned one or two orienteers. The purpose of orientation is to ensure that new nurses acquire the necessary knowledge and skills.
“We do not yet have a practice in place to allow new nurses to choose an experienced nurse as a mentor in their workplace community after orientation. Such a mentor would be a role model who would follow the new employee until the end of their first year at work,” says Lindfors.
In her research, she found that only 4% of new employees in the Helsinki University Hospital area were assigned a mentor after the orientation period.
“The responsibility may come as a shock. Many feel that they have been left to fend for themselves after the orientation period. We cannot afford to lose a single nurse. We must be able to induct them safely into the profession.”
“We have been thinking about how to support new nurses at the beginning of their careers in our department. In 2019, Nursing Director Petra Marjamaa and myself recruited a few mentor–actor pairs in her area,” says Lindfors.
Less stress, more community
Mentoring relieves work-induced stress. Studies show that mentoring relationships reduce friction within workplace communities and increase internal trust.
Orientation is compulsory, but mentoring is always voluntary.
“Mentoring is a tool for professional growth that you can use when you feel like it,” explains Lindfors.
Further information on this topic can be found on HUS web pages on mentoring.