Healthcare Mentoring Toolkit

The Power of Mentoring

Mentoring can improve hospital culture, productivity and efficiency. With improved communication and job satisfaction, mentoring can have a positive impact on patient care and overall hospital performance.

Caring mentors who provide encouragement and support can help others navigate the challenges of working in a hospital setting. A mentor is a good listener who can offer advice and friendship in a trusted relationship.

Mentoring offers the opportunity for:

  • professional and personal satisfaction
  • socialization
  • career growth, including certification
  • increased knowledge and understanding of shared governance
  • new challenges and opportunities

Mentors are often surprised by how much they also will benefit from the relationship.

The Difference Between Orientation and Mentoring


When a new employee is hired or transfers to a new department, he or she intentionally is scheduled for orientation for a set amount of time. This time usually includes time observing and working side-by-side a fellow healthcare professional—the preceptor. The purpose of orientation is to introduce the new hire to policies, procedures and the social milieu of the hospital and to ensure competency with skill sets so that safe and competent care is delivered. The completion of this process is key for success. The preceptor has many roles with the new hire that include being a role model, educator, socializer, friend and confidant. Preceptors model new skills, observe and help the new employee with these skills, and evaluate the new hire accomplishing these skills. For example, the preceptor will explain the policy on what is expected from this individual when there is a disaster drill. The preceptor will then demonstrate the task, such as where to find the needed equipment and observe the new employee with this process, evaluating his or her competency to do this task independently. Orienting usually involves an intense time commitment and has well-defined outcomes. The formal orientation relationship ends with the completion of orientation, although the relationship may continue.


Ideally after the employee completes orientation, he or she will be mentored. Experienced employees can also benefit from being mentored. Mentoring may be a formal or informal process that works best when it is intentional. The purpose of mentoring is to encourage, support and guide employees in their positions so that they will continue to grow personally and professionally. Mentors are coaches, advisors, friends, cheerleaders and counselors. Mentors are not responsible for the day-to-day activities of the employee or for solving problems. Mentors do not evaluate the mentee and should have no direct link to the mentee’s supervisor. Mentors generally do not teach specific position-related skills or tasks. Mentors offer a non-judgmental listening ear for the mentee. Depending on what the mentee needs and desires, the mentor may help with continued socialization within the institution, communication issues, career goals and problem solving. Through their own experiences and expertise, mentors can help the mentee determine what steps to take and appropriate resources. The mentoring relationship is built on trust and is confidential. A formal mentoring relationship is usually time-limited, anywhere from six months to a year; however, some mentoring relationships become life-long.

The Healthcare Mentoring Toolkit helps mentors develop an effective and meaningful relationship with their mentees.

About the Healthcare Mentoring Toolkit

healthcare mentoring toolkitThe Healthcare Mentoring Toolkit is designed for use by employees in a hospital setting and can be used in new or established mentoring programs. Included in this toolkit are resources that support the roles of the mentor program coordinators, mentors and mentees. Best practices, questions to jump start discussions, resources, checklists and activities are included in this practical, how-to mentoring guide. The toolkit was developed by the Health Alliance of MidAmerica LLC — a local office of the Kansas and Missouri hospital associations — as part of a OneKC WIRED (Workforce Innovation to Regional Economic Development) grant, in conjunction with representatives for area hospitals.

Mentoring Toolkit Introduction and Overview

The toolkit is divided into 12 major sections. The first two sections are designed for the mentors.

  • Section 1: Introduction — basic intent and overview of the toolkit
  • Section 2: Keys to a Successful Mentoring Relationship — prepare mentors for their journey with the mentees

Sections 3-10 are for the mentors to use with the mentees. Each section includes discussion starters, tools, handouts and resources. Handouts and tools that are intended for the mentee are designated by a star in the top right corner. Every section begins with an overview page that is a quick start guide for the topic with the purpose, perspective, how to prepare for your mentoring session, tools included and helpful pointers.

  • Section 3: Getting Started: First Meeting Guide and Setting Goals — The intent of the first two meetings is to start building trust between the mentors and mentees, to determine clear expectations and to establish a plan for future meetings based on the mentees’ goals. Ideally, the mentees will start to develop general goals by the end of the second meeting. Start the mentor/mentee relationship with information found in Section 3. Then the mentors can pick and choose from the other sections depending on their mentees’ goals or topics they want to explore. Sections 4-10 do not need to be completed in a set order.
  • Section 4: Current Role — Use this section to explore the mentees’ current position, with a focus on their job satisfaction, workplace engagement and empowerment. The goal for the mentees is an increased understanding of their current position resulting in increased effectiveness.
  • Section 5: Understanding Self and Others — This section provides a knowledge base for the mentees to better understand themselves and others as they grow in their role as a healthcare professional.
  • Section 6: Communication — With a focus on effective communication skills, this section has a dual purpose: 1) to support the mentors’ ability to work with mentees and 2) to strengthen the mentees’ communication skills. This section includes tips and concrete examples to assist in the art of effective communication.
  • Section 7: Problem Solving — This section is designed to help mentees learn to problem solve and practice conflict management in the daily work environment.
  • Section 8: Time Management — It is a positive experience when mentees feel they have accomplished what needs to be completed during their shift. The purpose of this section is to assist mentees to learn how to manage their time.
  • Section 9: Leadership — This section will help mentees gain a better understanding of leadership and workplace dynamics. With knowledge and awareness based on realistic expectations, mentees will be able to build optimal work relationships. Mentees also can use the tools to assess their ability and desire to be a leader.
  • Section 10: Career Development — This section helps mentees develop a better understanding of the meaning of professionalism in healthcare.
  • Section 11: Evaluation and Outcomes — designed for the mentor coordinator, this section includes best practices for program development, program evaluation and tools to measure outcomes.
  • Section 12: References and Resources — Complete list of the references that were cited for each section, as well as additional resources on mentoring programs and useful websites.

For New and Existing Mentoring Programs

Whether you are starting a new program or already have a mentoring program in place, the Mentoring Toolkit will give your employees practical tools to be more effective mentors. This toolkit can be used as part of an on-going and established program. Section 12 contains resources for hospitals beginning a new mentoring program. Evaluations and Outcomes (Section 11) includes information on mentoring program development, implementation, training and evaluation.

Not every hospital has a formal mentoring program. Employees who want to be a mentor outside of a formal mentoring program are encouraged to use this toolkit as a resource.