The Benefits of Mentors for Travel Nurses - The Gypsy Nurse

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By HealthTrust Workforce Solutions

May 15, 2019



Why Mentors Matter for Travel Nurses

mentors for travel nurses

This article provided by: HealthTrust Workforce Solutions

Mentors for Travel Nurses: Making the Most of your Career as a Travel Nurse

It’s not unusual to feel alone at times when working as a travel nurse. You are often in locations for a short amount of time and instead of putting down roots, you are likely planning your next assignment. This makes travel nursing unlike jobs where you become part of longer-term work family or community. In these more traditional environments, fostering deeper friendships with people you see daily and easily finding those that you look up to for inspiration and professional growth is very common. But just because travel nurses don’t stay put for very long doesn’t mean you can’t find ways to thrive. Here’s how a mentor can play a key role.

Generally speaking, a mentor is a more experienced and knowledgeable person who teaches and nurtures the development of a less experienced and less knowledgeable person called a mentee. It’s important to recognize that the mentor does not have to be senior in terms of age. In fact, these days many younger people are mentoring their senior colleagues when it comes to social media and technology. What is most important is that the mentor has value to share. Let’s explore some of the ways a mentor can help you make the most of your nursing career.

The Role of the Travel Nurse ‘Mentor’

Lead the relationship

To begin, the mentor will generally take a leading role in developing your relationship. This includes both informal and formal types of activities. For example, the mentor might call you occasionally to check in, schedule a weekly coffee break, or you may agree upon a due date for some type of written exercise.

Guide and counsel

A mentor will draw from their experience to help you make good decisions and understand situations that may be confusing.  This will depend greatly on how much you share and confide in your mentor. You may seek advice in choosing your next assignment, or want another opinion about a sensitive workplace situation.


Perhaps the largest contribution from a mentor is their ability to educate. Learning can often be easier when information is shared from someone with first-hand experience. This type of peer-to-peer instruction is very effective and usually promotes faster learning.

Shape professional development

Given the extra understanding a mentor brings to the relationship, they can advise on paths that have worked for them personally or where they have seen success with others. It’s also useful to learn what might not have worked so well. A mentor can also identify advancement opportunities or areas to improve your skills or credentials.


Staying inspired is a key part to any nursing assignment. People differ greatly on what motivates them and what keeps them positive, especially during rough patches. A mentor can provide genuine empathy in situations and ensure you remain encouraged. They can also create some new energy by sharing their milestones and accomplishments. Reaching further and a bit outside of your comfort zone to grow can be much easier with a reliable supporter available for advice.

Model desired behavior

Ideally, a mentor will be working nearby on a regular basis so that you could observe their actions and ongoing work ethic. However, this may be a challenge for travel nurses. Even if you cannot watch your mentor in real time, you can still hold them up as a role model by following their achievements, hearing their stories, or by seeing accolades given by others.

Now that you understand how a mentor can be a wonderful resource, how do you find one?

Mentors can be informal, such as a colleague that you meet on an assignment. As you get acquainted with people, try to identify someone you feel is approachable, willingly answers questions, and is well respected. Your recruiter may also have a structured mentoring program in place. Be sure to ask if they can pair you up with someone who can guide you through new processes and procedures. Also, check with professional nursing associations as they often offer a more formalized mentoring resource for those new to the field.  And perhaps the vastest source is the internet and social networking sites. LinkedIn and Facebook have several groups dedicated to nursing, and professional organizations will frequently use this as a vehicle to promote membership benefits.

While there are many aspects to the role of the mentor, understand that the mentee also has responsibility for overall success. To get the most out of any mentor relationship, a mentee should observe the following guidelines:

  • Be open and receptive to feedback
  • Share information that is accurate and truthful
  • Stay respectful at all times, even if there is disagreement
  • Be prepared to deliver on things you agree upon
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions
  • Honor the confidentiality of your patients and your mentor
  • Understand that your mentor is not a replacement for your supervisor, and always use your good judgement as the mentor is not liable for outcomes
  • Follow proper social media etiquette and do not share personal information
  • Find ways to show your appreciation, as mentors are most likely volunteering their time and expertise
  • Give back—find an opportunity where you can be a mentor to someone else

As a travel RN, there are numerous ways a mentor can make your profession more rewarding. Find a mentor today to answer questions, act as a sounding board, provide advice, or just help you learn the ropes of a new environment.

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