A great mentor can make all the difference for a new nurse in the ICU. Caring for critically ill patients can be intimidating, overwhelming, and complex. As nurses, you know that working in intensive care requires hypervigilance and confidence in your abilities to perform. This is why it’s important that new travel or perm nurses have a positive sounding board for challenges that come up and to feel like they have a lifeline for impactful patient care. In fact, their first few years on the job will heavily influence their choice to stay or leave the profession altogether.
As a seasoned travel nurse, your knowledge and experiences can offer others valuable insights that help expand their understanding. Here are five ways that you can be a great travel nurse mentor in the ICU to help new coworkers and improve patient care with each new assignment.
1. Be patient, calm, and approachable
Being approachable is an important quality in a mentor because it makes all the difference for a new ICU nurse clouded with anxieties. The art of remaining cool, calm, and collected in high-stress environments helps put others’ emotions at ease and creates a highly receptive learning environment. When a mentor is on-edge and stressed, the same emotions can easily spread to everyone around them, stifling authentic learning and problem-solving opportunities.
2. Be a good communicator and collaborator
As important mediators between doctors, patients, and the patients’ families, you’re an essential part of a complicated network of people. That’s why nurses need to have good communication skills and constantly work on improving them. And that starts with speaking up! Whether you’re advocating for a fellow nurse, teaching back, or sharing your best professional advice, it’s important that your verbal and nonverbal communication all align.
3. Help build confidence through genuine connections
If you can, aim to meet with your mentee in person, virtually, or over the phone consistently. Open the door for them to call you if they’ve had a tough shift or day of self-doubt– and vice versa. This mentorship can help you both gain confidence through shared experiences, establish lifelong connections in your healthcare network, and help you stand out as a healthcare traveler.
4. Play to your professional strengths
You have so much to offer your profession. Are you a tech wizard with new equipment? Can you balance your empathy well with the tough demands of the job? Or are you excellent at a particular technical skill, like inserting central lines? As a travel nurse, you bring fresh eyes and a wide pool of knowledge to the table with each and every new assignment. Keeping this in mind, use your travel experiences to your advantage and take each moment as a learning opportunity for you and a teaching opportunity for others.
5. Prioritize self-care to avoid burnout
Working every day in a high-stress ICU with long, taxing schedules, difficult patients, and disorganized or overworked management is difficult enough. Then add on busy home lives with families, friends, and everything else; it’s easy to push self-care to the bottom of your to-do list. But making sure that you find small ways to combat personal and professional burnout is extremely important. Take some time to do something you love each day, whether it’s a workout with a friend, cooking a meal with your family, or planning your next much-needed vacation. Prioritizing your own care will help you be your best self for your job, your mentees, your patients, and yourself.
Be the Best Travel Mentor You Can Be
When you help develop a mentee’s skills, you help improve their performance and maximize their potential to become a solid and confident ICU nurse. With these five mentor tips, you can create a safe, open environment for hands-on learning and enhance your mentees’ ICU experience. Going above and beyond as a travel nurse mentor is an investment in your career and yourself. Your mentorship can truly make all the difference for a new nurse in the ICU.