Aug. 14, 2023

Just do it: a mentor’s advice on joining NurseMentor 

UCalgary Nursing alumna Karen Lane, BN’05, MN’14 shares her rewarding experience as a first-time mentor
Karen Lane, BN’05, MN’14 (left) poses with student mentee at NurseMentor event.
Karen Lane and her mentee

For years, Karen Lane, BN’05, MN’14, had heard and read about the evidence-based benefits of mentorship and the impact it can make on both mentees and mentors. 

“I had my eye on NurseMentor with a strong interest in becoming a mentor, but just never had the capacity to dedicate the time it deserved,” Lane says now. “That changed last year when my work life shifted and space opened up nicely to make room for mentorship. I also felt I had gained enough wisdom in my career to support a new nurse as they prepare to enter the very complex and challenging world of health care." 

"Nursing is a beautiful yet demanding career, and we continue to lose nurses to burnout at a very high rate. Given this, I wanted to be the support for someone that I would have wanted as a new nurse about to start my career.”

Lane’s nursing wisdom comes from her roles almost exclusively in mental health, beginning in acute care. “I became very interested in both the lived experience of individuals with mental illness as well as the impact on families when someone is experiencing a mental health difficulty,” she explains.

Her curiosity and desire to support this population led her to her MN degree where she studied family systems nursing and adult mental health. Since graduating, she has worked with very diverse groups providing case management, workshops, and individual and group therapy, and now teaches a community mental health nursing clinical course with Athabasca University.

Lane’s first year as a mentor with UCalgary Nursing's NurseMentor program proved successful. Getting acquainted with her mentee was smooth and meetings were regular, which can be one of the challenges of the mentor/mentee relationship.

“We connected really well personally and professionally in different ways,” says Lane, but admits that one of her biggest challenges was to not always be the advice giver. “Instead, I needed to meet my mentee where she was at in her own journey. 

“There are so many ways to support a new nurse in navigating their own situations - share wisdom and offer validation, but not prescribe what they should do,” Lane adds. “There are many rewarding parts which include hearing that your mentee finds the relationship meaningful and beneficial. 

“It’s a unique relationship and can give more meaning to your own journey and career,” she summarizes. “I’m still connecting regularly with my mentee even though the formal mentorship period has ended. I hope we will keep connected for years to come.” 

UCalgary Nursing undegraduate students and nursing alumni are invited to join NurseMentor and to experience the many benefits of mentoring. Click below to learn more or to join now.