Given the dynamic and high-stress environment of nursing education today, the need arose for the development and implementation of a novel peer mentoring program to support undergraduate nursing students. Peer mentoring refers to a network of support in which a more skilled or experienced person serves as a role model for a less skilled person for professional development and personal growth. Peer mentoring provides a support system that encourages self-confidence and increases self-worth for both the mentee and the mentor. The undergraduate student peer mentoring program in a large, Southeastern United States, university-based, 4-year school of nursing was created in response to a desire for more support conveyed by upper-level nursing students.
A model was developed whereby each incoming nursing student (Semester 1) would be paired with a senior nursing student (Semesters 3, 4, or 5). This mentoring dyad was then assigned to a faculty mentor who ensured that the mentoring relationship was functioning in accordance with established guidelines and provided support to both the student mentee and the student mentor.
The first cohort was comprised of 20 mentoring dyads. Subsequent cohorts have ranged from 20 to 45 mentoring dyads. To date, over 300 nursing students have participated in the undergraduate peer mentoring program. Based on feedback from student evaluation surveys, both mentors and mentees appreciate and find value in the program. Approximately 93% of student mentors indicated that they would have appreciated such a program when they were first semester nursing students.
Some of the challenges of navigating nursing programs are not related to lack of academic aptitude. Rather, other challenges, including lack of social support and soft skills needed to successfully complete the first and second semesters of nursing school. These are critical challenges that a peer mentor could help to meet.
The authors would like to acknowledge all the student and faculty mentors at the University of Alabama Capstone College of Nursing who have participated in this peer mentoring program.
Research funding: None declared.
Author contributions: All authors have accepted responsibility for the entire content of this manuscript and approved its submission.
Competing interests: Authors state no conflict of interest.
Informed consent: Informed consent was obtained from all individuals included in this study.
Ethical approval: The local Institutional Review Board approved evaluation of student aggregate data for this report.
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