For nursing students starting their education during a pandemic in 2020, collaborating and interacting with classmates wasn’t an easy task.
Classes were online, students weren’t in the same place and as a result, in-person interactions between students were a bit more difficult than usual.
Jacksonville University Keigwin School of Nursing faculty saw how that could affect students and made a plan to fix it.
“We were watching incoming cohorts come in, especially during the pandemic, we started to notice a trend that students were coming in and just feeling isolated and not knowing anyone,” said Jamie Albert, assistant director of enrollment and advising for undergraduate nursing at Jacksonville University’s Keigwin School of Nursing.
“We saw how that sense of isolation would essentially kind of overwhelm them as they got further into the program. We really put our heads together and said, ‘how do we make them feel like they have support coming at them from so many different angles?’”
Albert and Clinical Assistant Professor of Nursing Sherri Bateh came up with a nursing mentorship program, which launched in spring 2021, once students were returning for in-person classes.
It pairs an older nursing student with a newer nursing student. The mentor is someone students can reach out to with questions, meet with or help with coursework.
In-person meetings were still difficult to have in the spring of 2021, but Albert and Bateh made sure to have a few for students to get to know their mentor face-to-face.
“We still wanted them to not only know their mentor, but that they could start building a community so that they didn’t feel isolated in the school of nursing and that they truly felt like they were a family,” Albert said.
While classes and face-to-face meetings have resumed at Jacksonville University, the Keigwin School of Nursing decided to keep the program going for future incoming cohorts, Albert said. Students would get paired with a mentor before classes start.
Bateh said the first few weeks of nursing school can leave some students “like a deer in headlights, they are so overwhelmed.”
The program has helped alleviate some of that stress, she said.
“We’ve already heard such positive feedback already,” she said. “And it was just a matter of some of the mentors sending a simple text message to the new students. That just made them feel like oh, I’m not alone in this.”
Lily Herbert ‘23 joined the program as a mentee as a way to meet people outside her nursing cohort and get extra guidance from an older nursing student.
“I have been able to reach out to my mentor when I needed help with any aspect of nursing. I was able to obtain knowledge from my mentor on study tips for specific classes which has helped me tremendously,” Herbert said. “She was also able to help me choose my classes and professors based on my learning styles.”
She now serves as a mentor for new students, using what she’s learned in her classes and from her mentor to help others.
“I love being able to pass along my knowledge and study tips to someone,” she said. “It feels like I have a family that is coming along this career journey with me. I enjoy knowing that I can help set up someone younger than me for success.”
By Katie Garwood