Reflections on mentoring and interprofessional collaboration.

Posted on: November 15th, 2021 by Dera Harvey 2 Comments

Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioners (PMHNPs) tackle the daily mental and emotional burdens of their patients. The weight of these burdens can take a physical and emotional toll on PMHNPs. “Workforce evidence collected during the pandemic through the Nurse Wellbeing at Risk survey indicates that the youngest nurses (Generation Z born between 1997 and 2015) are experiencing more mental health and well-being challenges than older generations” (Sherman & Labat, 2021, p. 37). Universities training young nurses to become future PMHNPs must make sure the PMHNP-student has access to information, support, and resources not only for themselves, but also for their patients. The PMHNP student may have access to mentors externally at clinical sites and internally from the university faculty. Mentorship is crucial to the mental health of the student who is often tackling multiple roles while trying to complete their education. Mentorship between students and faculty looks like an accountability relationship. The mentor and mentee work together to develop goals and timelines for following up on goals. Mentorship in this context also includes making sure the student is taking care of themselves from a holistic perspective. Mentorship goals for any nursing program should include interventions to “nurture the nurturers, and to retain the leaders among us…” (Waite & Nardi, 2017, p. 381).

Universities have a better handle on mentorship than most employers. Employers of newly graduated PMHNPs and Doctoral Nurse Practitioners (DNPs) have patients waiting to be seen; therefore, training and mentorship assignments are not prioritized. New graduates and new employees are given little to no training and are often expected to start seeing patients within days of starting the job. The new employee begins the job with a bitter taste in their mouth and this can lead to ongoing dissatisfaction with the workplace environment. High turnover rates can be seen in all areas of nursing. Mentorship programs bring a lot of value to an employer and they can “ultimately benefit the organization in measurable outcomes of employee and student productivity, retention, and satisfaction” (Waite & Nardi, 2017, p. 380).

Mentorships can include members of interdisciplinary teams. A PMHNP may be on a team with a psychiatrist, a registered nurse (RN), a pharmacist, and a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW). When working with interdisciplinary health care systems, a PMHNP or DNP “must develop and implement skills that also support strategy development to effectively address organizational issues”(Waite & Nardi, 2017, p. 376). Understanding how each team member supports the whole system is integral for success and can be done within the confines of a mentor-mentee relationship. Time and money are two obstacles that keep interprofessional collaboration from taking off and maintaining the support needed longevity. One other challenge that some may not want to admit is the fear of appearing incompetent in a new role. New employees, whether they have a DNP or 20 years of RN experience, want to come across to the team as competent. A mentor-mentee relationship can be seen as “hierarchical” where the mentor has more authority than the mentee (Waite & Nardi, 2017, p. 375). Some people may feel they worked too hard to get through school to be seen as inexperienced or they may feel they are supposed to work autonomously. They are both right and wrong in their thinking. They did work hard in school and should be able to work independently to a point. However, if we want to see healthcare transform into the dynamic entity that it can be- we all must work together for the good of everyone.


Sherman, R. O., & Labat, A. M. (2021). Managing new nurse fear and anxiety: Simple strategies can help with transition to practice. American Nurse Journal, 16(4), 37–39.

Waite, R., & Nardi, D. (2017). Seeking lifelong mentorship and menteeship in the Doctoral Advanced Nursing Practice role. In H. M. Dreher & M. E. Smith Glasgow (Eds.), DNP role development for Doctoral Advanced Nursing Practice (Second, pp. 375–390). Springer Publishing Company.

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2 Responses

  1. Dear Dera Harvey,

    As we see more mental health issues, especially in the wake of COVID-19, every APRN needs behavioral health care experience. As a healthcare providers, we need to understand how to care for mental health patients, which presents unique challenges, as the patient’s emotional problems may be less visible than physiologic ones. In the Ethiopian community, mental issues are increasing. Many of the patients are young adults. Most of them are confronting depression. Biological, psychological, and social factors are more prominent causes than drugs or alcohol in Ethiopian immigrant cases. Social factors (environmental, social, work, and relationships) seem to be the leading cause of mental illness in Ethiopian immigrants’ lives.

    As an advanced healthcare provider, I have been interested in discovering the specific social factors leading to these mental disorders. These people have been coming from other countries with huge expectations such as, “Life is so easy in America,” and so on. When faced with the realities of American life, their expectations don’t match, and they become overstressed, leading to depression. As an FNP, understanding and identifying mental health problems is very important. APRNs’ goal in the community is to spotlight the issues and teach them the preventative modalities to function in society before and after mental illness has been significant. As an APRN, the ultimate goal is to improve healthcare on a local and international level continuously. I believe that APRNs’ path through advanced education will eventually be the key to unlocking the doors of improved healthcare.

  2. Hello Dera,

    I think you brought up an exceptional and much needed topic regarding the mental health of PMHNPs and/or DNPs. Struggling with mental health has become less of a stigma through the years, but individuals still have the fear of looking incompetent or unknowledgeable with in their given specialty, causing more mental stress than need be. I do agree that universities provide more resources to help support in any mental stress compared to employers, but I believe seeking help and support always starts with the individual itself. As a current registered nurse in a psychiatric outpatient facility, there are boundaries that I always have to remember when treating patients. Autonomy is still number one and if the individual is not prepared to obtain or seek support, that they have that right to do so. Now in regards to mentorship becoming a support for newly employed DNPs/PMHNPs, I find that to be a very helpful program to be implemented within all employment. It is unfortunate to say but most newly graduate nursing/ post graduate nursing jobs do not get full and proper training and having a mentorship program seems efficient in theory. That is why RN residencies are becoming more and more common for new nurses. The barriers I see though is that these residencies come with a very low pay rate compared to regular nursing positions and I believe individuals would rather take the increased pay with less training than a pay cut with more training. There are issues that arise with this topic, but I believe your point discussed is something needing more research and preparation for it to be successful but is definitely a topic to continue to be discussed.

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