Mentoring has been consistently viewed as a viable intervention to increase job satisfaction of nursing faculty and subsequently increase retention by providing needed education and easing the transition from clinical practice to nursing faculty (American Association of Colleges of Nursing, 2019; Chung & Kowalski, 2012; McDermid, Peters, Jackson, & Daly, 2012; National Advisory Council on Nurse Education and Practice, 2010; Roughton, 2013). The nursing faculty shortage in the United States is a problem that affects nursing students, nurses, health care providers, and patients. Several factors have been identified as contributing to the shortage of nursing faculty, including a lack of master's- and doctorate-prepared nurses, an aging faculty workforce, difficulty recruiting younger nursing faculty, low salaries, and a decrease in job satisfaction with the faculty role (American Association of Colleges of Nursing, 2019; Nardi & Gyurko, 2013; Wyte-Lake, Tran, Bowman, Needleman, & Dobalian, 2013). Specific factors that contribute to the decrease in job satisfaction include a deficit of knowledge related to the faculty role, challenges with the role transition, job stress, and maintaining a work–life balance—all of which influence nursing faculty to leave the profession (Chung & Kowalski, 2012; McDermid et al., 2012; Yedidia, Chou, Brownlee, Flynn, & Tanner, 2014). Despite recommendations for formal mentoring programs, these programs are not widely used in nursing education. To support and encourage these programs, there is a need to gain insight into the mechanics of nursing faculty mentoring to determine the factors that are associated with successful mentoring relationships (Sciarappa & Mason, 2014; Sheridan, Murdock, & Harder, 2015). Gaining further insight into the qualities of effective mentoring will support the development of formal mentoring programs, thereby decreasing the nursing faculty shortage by supporting faculty retention.
The purpose of the study was to examine the importance of and satisfaction with characteristics of mentoring among full-time nursing faculty teaching in baccalaureate degree programs or higher. This study assessed the degree to which nursing faculty perceive the importance of characteristics of the mentor and mentoring relationship, as well as the level of satisfaction with the mentor and mentoring relationship.
The following research questions guided this study:
- What characteristics of the mentoring relationship and role of the mentor are important to mentors and mentees who are nursing faculty?
- What is the level of satisfaction of mentors and mentees who are nursing faculty with the mentoring relationship and role of the mentor?
- Are there significant differences between senior nursing faculty and nonsenior nursing faculty in their satisfaction of the mentoring relationship and role of the mentor?
A cross-sectional survey research design was used to collect data from 61 members of the nursing faculty. The survey included demographics, length of time as faculty, perceptions of mentoring, and important characteristics of mentors. For those faculty who identified as having or being a mentor, satisfaction with the mentoring relationship was evaluated. Data analysis was conducted using descriptive statistics with measures of central tendencies, standard deviation, and independent t test.
Permission to conduct the research study was obtained from the University of Arkansas Institutional Review Board. Participants were identified through the selected university's public website that listed all nursing faculty contact information. All participants provided informed consent prior to participating.
The survey was available electronically to faculty teaching at the selected research sites. Participants were e-mailed an invitation to participate and a link to the electronic survey. Once the survey link was opened, the invitation to participate and informed consent form were displayed for the participant to review prior to proceeding to survey completion. The survey remained open for 2 weeks with participants receiving three e-mail reminders until the survey was closed. All data were collected anonymously.
Participants and Setting
A convenience sample was used, which included only full-time nursing faculty. Additionally, senior nursing faculty was defined as a faculty member with a minimum of 10 years of nursing faculty experience. The research sites for this study were 4-year state universities in a midwestern state. At the time of the study, all sites had a baccalaureate degree program or higher that was approved by the State Board of Nursing and accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. Based on these criteria, eight state universities were included. Of those, eight had Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree programs, seven had a Master's of Science in Nursing degree programs, and four had Doctor of Nursing Practice degree programs.
The survey used was a modified version of the Perceptions of Mentoring Relationships Survey (PMRS; Harris, 2013). In addition to the survey instrument, survey questions developed by the researcher were used to collect data on participant satisfaction with mentoring and demographic data. The demographic data collected included age, gender, ethnicity, highest degree obtained, participation in a previous mentoring relationship, and length of time in a nursing faculty role.
Perceptions of Mentoring Relationships Survey
The PMRS was used to assess what aspects of the mentoring relationship were of importance for the nursing faculty surveyed (Harris, 2013). The survey tool consisted of three distinct areas, Benefits of Mentoring Relationships, Mentee's Role, and Mentor's Role. The areas assessed for this study were the Benefits of Mentoring Relationships and the Mentor's Role. Permission to use the PMRS was granted by Dr. Harris. The survey asked participants to rate items in each category on a 5-point Likert-type scale. Because the subscales of the survey instrument had an estimated Cronbach's alpha level ≥ .70, the instrument was determined to be reliable (Harris, 2013).
Satisfaction With Mentoring
The participants' satisfaction with mentoring was assessed to determine whether a relationship existed between items that were rated of high importance on the PMRS were also items that produce satisfaction in the actual mentoring process. For each question on the PMRS, a parallel question was asked regarding the respondent's level of satisfaction with that behavior in an actual mentoring relationship. The level of satisfaction with each characteristic was assessed using a 5-point Likert-type scale.
In addition to examining overall satisfaction with mentoring, respondents were stratified based on those with less than 10 years of nursing faculty experience and those with 10 years or more of experience. Faculty were compared in these groups using an independent t test to determine whether significant differences in satisfaction with mentoring junior faculty existed between senior and nonsenior faculty.
The final item of data analysis aimed to compare the satisfaction with and importance of mentoring. In order to complete this comparison, the survey items assessing importance of and satisfaction with the mentoring relationship and role of the mentor were compared. This comparison determined whether general tendencies existed between the level of satisfaction with and importance of mentoring.
A total of 233 full-time nursing faculty teaching in a baccalaureate degree program or higher at a midwestern state university were invited to participate in this study. Invitations were sent through e-mail and included an invitation to participate in the study and a link to the electronic web-based survey. Three follow-up reminder e-mails were sent to participants. Of the 233 invitations sent, 61 participants completed the survey. Most participants were female (n = 59) and ranged in age from 30 to 73 years. The majority of the participants (94.9%) reported their race and/or ethnicity as Caucasian (non-Hispanic), 3.4% reported Asian, Asian American, or Pacific Islander as their race and/or ethnicity, and 1% reported race/and or ethnicity as Hispanic or Latino.
The most predominate degree reported was a Master of Science in Nursing (n = 27), with a Doctor of Education or Doctor of Philosophy being the second most common degree (n = 25). The level of experience of the nursing faculty ranged from zero to 4 years of experience to greater than 15 years of experience, with greater than 15 years being the most frequently reported at 34.4%. Participants with zero to 4 years of experience accounted for 24.6%, 5 to 9 years of experience being 21.3% of the population, and 19.7% accounting for those with 10 to 14 years of experience. Finally, 93.4% of the nursing faculty reported having participated in or currently having a mentoring relationship (formal and nonformal) in their role as nursing faculty, with 6.6% having not participated in a mentor relationship. Those faculty who identified as having not participated in a mentor relationship were excluded from the study.
Importance of the Mentoring Relationship and Mentor
Participants were asked to rate the level of importance for each of the 16 items using a 5-point Likert scale (1 = strongly disagree to 5 = strongly agree). The mean of the 16 items ranged from 4.02 (SD = 1.09) to 4.57 (SD = 0.84). Level of importance of the mentor being a source of psychological support scored the lowest and the level of importance of a mentoring relationship being a trusting relationship rated as the most important factor. The items that rated as the most important characteristics for a mentor–mentoring relationship were a relationship that provided the opportunity to learn from a successful nurse educator (M = 4.45, SD = 0.9), a mentor who provided advice (M = 4.45, SD = 0.89), a mentor who was a source of guidance (M = 4.46, SD = 0.84), and a mentoring relationship that was a trusting relationship (M = 4.57, SD = 0.84).
Satisfaction With the Mentoring Relationship and Mentor
Participants were asked to rate their level of satisfaction with the mentoring relationship or mentor. The item with the lowest mean of 3.63 (SD = 1.18) was for satisfaction with the degree to which the mentoring relationship provided someone who was able to advise on achieving professional goals. Being satisfied with trust was rated the highest (M = 4.04, SD = 1.09), aligning with the importance rating.
Senior and Nonsenior Faculty Satisfaction With the Mentoring Relationship and Mentor
The highest and lowest scoring survey items for both senior and nonsenior faculty mentors were compared using an independent t test. The results of the independent t test revealed that a statistically significant difference did not exist; however, similarities were present between the faculty groups on items resulting in low satisfaction. The survey items for a mentoring relationship promoting professional goals and the mentor providing psychological support scored among the lowest for satisfaction for both senior and nonsenior faculty. These results indicate that pairing mentees with the appropriate mentor, who have similar career interests or research agendas, would provide ongoing professional support and development opportunities, which could lead to increased satisfaction with the mentoring experience for faculty regardless of years of teaching experience.
The nursing shortage in the United States is at a critical juncture that is being further perpetuated by the nursing faculty shortage (American Association of Colleges of Nursing, 2019; Gazza, 2019). In an effort to combat the nursing shortage, schools of nursing are being pressed to increase enrollment in nursing programs; however, this is not a feasible option until the nursing faculty shortage is addressed. Many barriers have been identified as perceived barriers to transitioning from a clinical-based nursing position to an academic faculty role. Barriers such as decreased salary, lack of knowledge concerning the new role, and required education prevent practicing nurses from transitioning to academic nurse educator practice (Bagley, Hoppe, Brenner, Crawford, & Weir, 2018).
Mentoring programs have been reported as having a positive influence on transition to the faculty role in nursing (Shieh & Cullen, 2019). The implementation of mentoring programs has the potential to affect nursing faculty job satisfaction and thereby have an effect on the nursing faculty shortage. Creating and supporting the development of formal mentoring programs is needed to support a transition to the faculty role. By identifying the characteristics of mentoring that nursing faculty find to be of high importance and which lead to high levels of satisfaction, mentoring programs can be customized to ensure that the needs of the novice nursing faculty are met in the mentoring relationship. Additionally, institutional support for items deemed as important could be added to orientation and professional development for new faculty. For example, assisting the novice faculty with achieving professional goal development was a low-scoring item and providing the mentor with the necessary resources to guide the novice faculty could lead to an increase in overall satisfaction with mentoring and potentially an increase in job satisfaction. A formal mentoring program would not be necessary for there to be a need to conduct mentor education, as this could be accomplished in a setting where informal mentoring relationships exist, and development and support is needed.
The results of this study provided insight into the characteristics of the relationship and role of the mentor that nursing faculty find to be of importance and that produce a level of satisfaction. By understanding the important characteristics and satisfaction of faculty with mentoring, additional targeted resources can be provided to support new nursing faculty. Efforts must be made to alleviate the nursing faculty shortage and create pathways for clinical nurses to transition into the faculty role. Retention of current and new faculty are key to future develop of nursing faculty and students.
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