Mentorship matters

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Of pinterest photo by Nicolas Morin copy

Thanks to Lia Sanzone, Ingram School of Nursing students now have their own mentorship program. Pictured: the School’s inaugural professionalism and pinning ceremony, October, 2015. (Photo: Nicolas Morin)

The Nurse Peer Mentorship Program (NPMP) is changing the way Ingram School of Nursing students confront obstacles.

The NPMP was developed in 2014 after Lia Sanzone, BScN’89, MSc(A)’95, faculty lecturer and academic advisor, identified a gap in mental health support for students within the School. Finding that difficulties functioning in certain clinical settings and overall stress were detrimental to the academic success of many freshmen and sophomores, Sanzone recruited upper-year students to provide coaching. By fall, 42 mentor-mentee dyads were established.

Currently, the NPMP is building on its momentum after a very positive first year. It has added workshops (such as active listening and stress management), received much-needed funding from Health Canada and increased the number of dyads to 90—with 10 recently graduated alumni among the mentors.

“These alumni are transitioning from an academic phase to the clinical world,” says Sanzone. “They’re in a position to be great support to someone going through what they’ve recently experienced.”

It’s an initiative unique to McGill that’s beginning to get noticed. In 2015, Sanzone presented the concept in Spain and at the McGill Golden Share conference on health care professional retention, where it was well received. She’s also acted as consultant to the Universidade de Brasília, where there is interest in starting a similar program.

The NPMP is different from the Osler Fellows Program offered in McGill’s undergraduate medical curriculum in that the mentors are primarily students rather than professionals. According to Sanzone, the School is considering establishing a Nightingale Fellowship, which would more closely resemble the Osler program.

Through all mentoring programs present and future, Sanzone hopes to build a sense of giving back that will permeate nursing culture. “If you experienced positive mentoring as a student, we hope it becomes a natural aspiration when you become a professional to be there for your fellow colleague and ultimately provide better care,” she says.

Any alumni interested in becoming a mentor can contact Sanzone at lia.sanzone@mcgill.ca (Russ Cooper, MSc(OT)’16)

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