Tele-Mentoring: An effective tool for learning in a rapidly changing world

Published June 12, 2019

By Nancy Lamberton, Leadership Coach, The Nebo Company and Rosalie Mainous, Director of Academic Nursing Development, AACN

Many of us deal everyday with new, unpredictable challenges in our fast-paced world.  Navigating these challenges requires us to constantly learn and assimilate new knowledge. It is still true, that often the best way to gain new perspective and knowledge is to talk to people who have faced similar situations. 

A mentor can be a vital resource for gaining perspective and knowledge when navigating today's rapidly changing world of nursing academics -- whether you are a Dean, a member of the faculty, or a nursing student. But what if that mentor is not down the hall, but is across the country at another nursing college?

In a networked world, it is easier than ever to connect with a mentor who has the expertise or experience you need to tap into. Whether seeking one-on-one mentoring or designing a large scale mentoring program, digital tools are making it easier than ever to connect. Tele-mentoring, a broad term for geographically dispersed mentoring connections, is growing in popularity due to digital platforms, such as Zoom, Skype and Google Hangout.  

An example of a large-scale tele-mentoring program is Project ECHO. An article by David Barash in Harvard Business Review (11/22/16), "Tele-mentoring Is Creating Global Communities of Practice in Health Care," details the success of bringing experts in hepatitis C together with geographically dispersed primary care physicians to support the care of their patients. This program has been expanded to cover over 60 complex conditions.

To take advantage of this expanded access to mentors, who can support your learning and growth, here are some tips to make tele-mentoring work for you.

  • Avoid technology flubs -- Choose a digital platform that fits your needs and practice, using its features before you have an important mentoring conversation. 

  • Use the visual connection -- Whether this is a one-time conversation or a regularly scheduled mentoring session, use the video feature for the visual connection -- don't turn it off. Seeing the facial expressions adds context and richness to the conversation. 

  • Capitalize on expanded access -- Be creative and courageous in reaching out to experts, from whom you want to learn. Most people are willing to support others growth if their time and expertise are respected and appreciated

If you are a Dean in the world of academia, it is easier than ever to be connected to other Deans to help navigate today's rapidly changing landscape. AACN now offers MentorLINK, an 8-month experience designed for Deans, combining one-on-one mentoring, cohort learning, face-to-face opportunity to connect, and one-hour webinars on the latest in leadership development topics.

MentorLINK was designed to bring experienced deans together with those seeking support and wisdom as they take on their new role – or continue their role at a new school of nursing with new challenges.

Visit AACN's website to learn how you can benefit from this new program designed to connect like-minded leaders for success. The application cycle for the first MentorLINK cohort closes on Friday, June 14.

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