Combatting early career anxiety by sharing experience & empowering others

This blog was written by Jamie Wheeler, Registered Mental Health Nurse.

Being an early career nurse comes with a lot of adaptation and change. As you begin your journey, it is very normal to feel a sense of fear or anxiety. Many people report feeling that they do not belong. Imposter syndrome is a growing sense of self-doubt and anxiety about the legitimacy of one’s position within your profession. This syndrome can affect all who undertake new roles and responsibilities, and the early career nurse is more likely to experience this, where high achieving individuals associate their success with mere luck rather than acknowledging their skill and dedication. Mentorship is a means of opening dialogue and discussion, and early career nurses are in an ideal position to help due to our ability to empathise with this relatable issue. It is a significant opportunity for reflection and to implement objective truth into the mentee’s perceptions which are primarily run on subjective thought, where a staff member may associate their success to luck, is an opportunity to review their actions and demonstrate it is in-fact due to their hard work and their skill. 

A mentorship role is not exclusive to a leader’s role; all of us have the capabilities and responsibilities to mentor and support our team members, to assist each other to grow and develop. As early-career nurses, we should all be looking to support our colleagues and health professionals. One way to do this is by implementing the GROW’s mentorship model. This four-letter acronym attempts to structure mentorship interactions, and its methodology relies on having the mentee reflect on events. Its informal approach makes this widely adoptable into practice and promotes constructive learning and conversations within the team.

The GROW Model

G= Goal – the what and why? An opportunity for the mentee to explore what are some of the current issues or feelings that they face

R= Reality – the where and now? An ideal section to help establish a grounding in facts, look at the mentees’ achievements and current performance and have them identify and recognise this themselves.

O= Options – The how? Ask the mentee to outline what would be the ideal way forward, regardless of resources or staff, what would be their perfect setting to progress?

W= Will – The way forward, what now and who? How does their ideal setting fit into the here and now? How are they going to overcome some of the issues?

The process is typically mentee led; this is deliberate as it is crucial to empower our colleagues and take an opportunity to listen to them. This is also a great way to demonstrate their inclusion and value within the team. Times where the mentor talks should be to clarify or offer support or guidance on the matter, but it is important to encourage discussion by using language such as, “have you considered…?” or “You mentioned this earlier, how do you think you will overcome this?” Open questioning techniques are valuable skills we adopt when assessing our patient’s needs and can equally be beneficial when supporting our colleagues.

Mentorship is a means to connect with our fellow nurses, to share and experience our goals, desires, and concerns. An emphasis on listening and showing team members they are not alone is an impactful way for early-career nurses to empower and demonstrate core leadership skills to their teams.