Mentoring and motivation : a study of the ongoing professional development of Australian diabetes nurse educators

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Despite increasing research on the importance of healthcare organisations providing quality services, limited research is available on what motivates healthcare workers to engage in professional development activities throughout their working lives. This study investigates the relationship between mentoring, motivation and the ongoing professional development of Australian Diabetes Nurse Educators. Using Victor Vroom's expectancy theory of motivation model, the study aimed to identify what motivates nurses to engage in formal mentoring and the impact if any of formal mentoring on the professional development of nurses who were not at the start of their nursing careers. The study uses a mixed method research design of questionnaires and interviews to examine the experiences of a national cohort of Australian nurses who participated in a formal mentoring program from 2008 to 2012. Phase one consisted of an audit of nurses who completed the program. The questionnaires audited the attitudes, satisfaction and achievement of goals of the mentorship program participants. Phase two consisted of interviews conducted with five mentees and four mentors to examine what motivated these nurses to engage in formal mentoring. Of the healthcare workers who completed the program (n=758), 617 identified as nurses, met the inclusion criteria and were recruited to phase 1 of the study, which consisted of 329 mentors and 288 mentees. A total of 94.4% of mentees indicated that they were motivated to participate in the formal mentoring program by the potential achievement of credentialling status, i.e. the attainment of 'the bit of paper' that made them eligible to apply to the Australian Government for a Medicare provider billing number. On completion of the program, 64% of mentees applied to be credentialled. Mentors were motivated to mentor by the desire to belong and to contribute to the professional development of other nurses. From the perspective of the nurses in this study, the experience of formal mentoring contributed to their ongoing professional development by improving their clinical expertise and competencies, increasing their confidence to provide diabetes education and management to their patients and developing their knowledge for facilitating practice development. The study concludes that motivation to participate in formal mentoring programs is linked to both outcomes and performance. In order to motivate more nurses to become involved in mentoring, the study recommends that program facilitators provide access to resources such as education and training on how to mentor, ensure the version control of electronically delivered mentoring program material and allocate mentors and mentees adequate time for their mentoring activities.
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