Mentoring for new nurses

Evidence Rating  
Evidence rating: Some Evidence

Strategies with this rating are likely to work, but further research is needed to confirm effects. These strategies have been tested more than once and results trend positive overall.

Health Factors  
Decision Makers
Date last updated

Mentoring programs pair new nurses with more experienced nurses who act as a resource and provide support as the new nurse establishes her or himself professionally. Mentors may come from the same unit as their mentee or from a different unit. Preceptors sometimes function as mentors, but usually also have a supervisory role. Mentors and preceptors are often incorporated into nurse residency programs. Mentors may also help to transition experienced nurses into new roles as nursing faculty1 or as members of units that serve a patient pool or type of medicine new to the nurse2.

What could this strategy improve?

Expected Benefits

Our evidence rating is based on the likelihood of achieving these outcomes:

  • Increased nurse retention

  • Increased job satisfaction

Potential Benefits

Our evidence rating is not based on these outcomes, but these benefits may also be possible:

  • Increased job skills

What does the research say about effectiveness?

There is some evidence that mentoring programs increase retention3, 4, 5 and job satisfaction among new nurses3, 4. However, additional evidence is needed to confirm effects3, 6.

Mentoring programs may increase nursing skills, reduce stress and anxiety levels3, 7, and improve confidence, decision-making, self-efficacy, and the professional practice environment3, 8. Researchers suggest that mentorship by preceptors for newly licensed nurses last a minimum of six months9 and that mentors and preceptors receive appropriate mentor training3, 10, 11, 12.

Mentorship may increase retention among experienced nurses who transition to new work environments, including new types of units2 and faculty roles1, 6, 13. Experienced nurses with mentors report greater levels of job satisfaction2 and new nursing faculty with mentors report lower levels of role conflict and role ambiguity1 than peers who transition without mentors. Serving as a mentor may also increase retention rates14 and job satisfaction4, 14 among experienced nurses.

By reducing turnover rates, mentoring programs can reduce costs for health care organizations3, 15.

Implementation Examples

A variety of health care organizations and partners support and implement nurse mentoring programs. The Organization of Nurse Executives of New Jersey’s (ONE NJ’s) program, for example, matched more than 75 mentor/mentee pairs from 2011-201416, 17. Vermont Nurses in Partnership’s (VNIP’s) Clinical Transition Framework (CFT) supports new graduates and experienced nurses transitioning to new practice environments18.


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1 Specht 2013 - Specht JA. Mentoring relationships and the levels of role conflict and role ambiguity experienced by novice nursing faculty. Journal of Professional Nursing. 2013;29(5):e25–e31.

2 Mann-Salinas 2014 - Mann-Salinas E, Hayes E, Robbins J, et al. A systematic review of the literature to support an evidence-based Precepting Program. Burns. 2014;40(3):374–387.

3 Zhang 2016 - Zhang Y, Qian Y, Wu J, Wen F, Zhang Y. The effectiveness and implementation of mentoring program for newly graduated nurses: A systematic review. Nurse Education Today. 2016;37:136–144.

4 Jones 2017 - Jones SJ. Establishing a nurse mentor program to improve nurse satisfaction and intent to stay. Journal for Nurses in Professional Development. 2017;33(2):76-78.

5 Schroyer 2016 - Schroyer CC, Zellers R, Abraham S. Increasing registered nurse retention using mentors in critical care services. The Health Care Manager. 2016;35(3):251-265.

6 Nowell 2017 - Nowell L, Norris JM, Mrklas K, White DE. Mixed methods systematic review exploring mentorship outcomes in nursing academia. Journal of Advanced Nursing. 2017;73(3):527-544.

7 Edwards 2015 - Edwards D, Hawker C, Carrier J, Rees C. A systematic review of the effectiveness of strategies and interventions to improve the transition from student to newly qualified nurse. International Journal of Nursing Studies. 2015;52(7):1254-1268.

8 Verret 2016 - Verret G, Lin V. Easing the transition: An innovative generational approach to peer mentoring for new graduate nurses. Journal of Pediatric Nursing. 2016;31(6):745-756.

9 Anderson 2012 - Anderson G, Hair C, Todero C. Nurse residency programs: An evidence-based review of theory, process, and outcomes. Journal of Professional Nursing. 2012;28(4):203-12.

10 Spiva 2017 - Spiva L, Hart PL, Patrick S, Waggoner J, Jackson C, Threatt JL. Effectiveness of an evidence-based practice nurse mentor training program. Worldviews on Evidence-Based Nursing. 2017;14(3):183-191.

11 Rebholz 2015 - Rebholz M, Baumgartner LM. Attributes and qualifications of successful rural nurse preceptors: Preceptors's perspectives. Qualitative Report. 2015;20(2):93-119.

12 Rush 2013 - Rush KL, Adamack M, Gordon J, Lilly M, Janke R. Best practices of formal new graduate nurse transition programs: An integrative review. International Journal of Nursing Studies. 2013;50(3):345-356.

13 Hulton 2016 - Hulton LJ, Sawin EM, Trimm D, Graham A, Powell N. An evidence-based nursing faculty mentoring program. International Journal of Nursing Education. 2016;8(1):41-46.

14 Baggot 2005 - Baggot DM, Hensinger B, Parry J, Valdes MS, Zaim S. The new hire/preceptor experience: Cost-benefit analysis of one retention strategy. Journal of Nursing Administration. 2005;35(3):138-45.

15 Trepanier 2012 - Trepanier S, Early S, Ulrich B, Cherry B. New graduate nurse residency program: A cost-benefit analysis based on turnover and contract labor usage. Nursing Economic$. 2012;30(4):207-214.

16 Rich 2015 - Rich M, Kempin B, Loughlin MJ, et al. Developing leadership talent: A statewide nurse leader mentorship program. Journal of Nursing Administration. 2015;45(2):63–66.

17 ONE NJ - Organization of Nurse Executives of New Jersey (ONE NJ).

18 VNIP - Vermont Nurses in Partnership. Clinical Transition Framework (CTF).