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The characteristics of mentoring activity and the type of mentoring help received by nurse administrators in British Columbia Taylor, Alison Joan


The purpose of this descriptive study was to obtain information relevent to the characteristics of mentoring activity and mentoring help received by nurse administrators. The research questions were: (1) To what extent do nurse administrators report the incidence of mentors in their lives? (2) Are there significant differences in selected background characteristics between subjects who are mentored and those who are not? (3) What are the characteristics of the mentor, the protege, and the mentor-protege relationship (MPR) as perceived by nurse administrators who were proteges? (4) What is the type of mentoring help received by subjects who had mentors? (5) To what extent have subjects been mentors to others? Data were obtained using a mailed self report survey questionnaire. The sample consisted of 176 top administrators belonging to the Nurse Administrator's Association of B.C. There were 119 usable questionnaires (68%). The data were analysed using frequency distributions, factor analysis, descriptive and Chi square statistics. The data analysis provided a profile of selected background characteristics of the nurse administrators, the most influential mentor, the protege, MPR, and mentoring help received. Using an explicit definition of a mentor, 71 percent of the respondents indicated they had one or more mentors. Turning to statistically significant differences (p <.05) between mentored and non-mentored subjects, more mentored subjects have served as mentors (67% vs. 51%), intend to serve as mentors in the future (83% vs. 48%), and believe a mentor is helpful to a person beginning a career in nursing (96% vs. 70%). Amongst respondents who had children, mentored respondents had less children than non-mentored respondents. Further, mentored subjects indicated that they arrived at their present position through the encouragement and recommendation of another person or through taking advantage of sudden job opportunities. Non-mentored respondents indicated they arrived at their present position because they consistently worked toward this goal. Conclusions. (1) The subjects are congruent with the population of B.C. nurse administrators and similar to the U.S. women business managers in Phillips' study of mentoring (1977). They are not similar to the U.S. nurse influentials studied by Vance (1977). (2) Proximity and career interest of the most influential mentor is strongly related to that of the protege. The majority of MPR's (86%) took place during the protege's work experience with immediate superiors, administrators, and more experienced colleagues. Seventy-five percent of the mentors were nurse administrators or leaders. Few of the MPR's occured during post-secondary education (11%) and few of the mentors were instructors or professors (7%). (3) Some of the findings are in contrast to the literature: (a) few of the proteges were novices in their first job (7%). The majority (77%) were at. early and mid-work experience stages and were advancing to a higher position (68%). (b) Thirty percent did not begin a MPR until after the age of 35. (c) Many of the MPR's grew out of a mutual relationship (62%) rather than being initiated by the mentor (34%). (d) The average MPR lasted 10 years in contrast to three years reported in the literature. (4) By far the most important mentoring help received by the respondents was encouragement and confirmation, followed by inspiration to achieve high standards of performance. Next, in decreasing importance were practical training and guidance, career/educational advice and promotion, and extended personal indoctrination and direction. Proteges were less inclined to receive promotional help and sponsorship such as increased visibility, candid shrewd advice,, and protection. (5) Mentors took a personal interest in their protege's career development, had a lasting positive influence on career growth, but were more inclined to influence professional values and interests than personal ones.

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