As doctoral students transition from their student role to nurse leaders, it is vital that they understand the benefits that mentoring and interdisciplinary collaboration will have on their growth and development. Dehr & Glasgow (2017) encourage doctoral students to pair with mentors who will help guide them through the transition. They also encourage networking with a variety of professionals from different services to learn how each of their roles impact the organization.
Mentors may be purposefully chosen, assigned, or migrated to subconsciously over time as professional and personal relationships blossom. They offer support, encourage growth, and share experiences. Mentors also introduce new nurse leaders to others encouraging networking and enhancing professional development. The Institute of Health (2021) believes interdisciplinary collaboration and teamwork improves patient outcomes and employee satisfaction reducing the feeling of being siloed, opening lines of communication, and building strong, connected foundations.
My experience during clinicals
I completed DNP clinicals a small, tertiary teaching hospital. The facility promotes high reliability organizational thinking, encourages active participation in interdisciplinary committees, and leadership development. The facility attempted to formalize a mentoring program in which new leaders were placed with a mentor during their role transition. Unfortunately, the facility has faced challenges maintaining a steady list of participating mentors and often found itself assigning the same mentors multiple times over and often assigning two to three mentees per mentor. This can be rewarding, yet challenging, when trying to serve as an interactive, engaged mentor.
It appeared the same nurse leaders were on the same committees and offered guidance for the facility. This can be beneficial in that the team knows each other and has a sense of insight into the way the team members think, but it can also produce groupthink. Groupthink occurs when there is a tight network of team members agree to agree avoiding conflict. Strong leaders need to be able to stand individually, be firm on morals and values, advocating for their beliefs while maintaining a sense of team unity. Groupthink can hinder honest feedback, limit creative thinking, stall progress, and endanger working relations. I appreciated that importance to have strong, effective communication skills to navigate negotiations and discussions. I did find myself wondering if the facility would improve progress and patient outcomes if more staff had input.
Recognizing today’s frontline staff are tomorrow’s leaders, nurse leaders should encourage more frontline staff to participate on committees. This would offer new ideas, give different views on current events, and decrease groupthink. As I grow through my DNP clinical experience, I value my mentors and interdisciplinary collaboration. I look forward to providing that support to others after graduation.
Dreher, H.M. & Glasgow, M.S. (2017). DNP role development for doctoral advanced nursing practice (2nd edition). Springer
Institute for Healthcare Improvement (2021). PS104: Teamwork and communication. Open School. http://www.ihi.org/education/ihiopenschool/Pages/default.aspx