The summer before college, I was nervous about starting nursing school. I had never truly experienced patient care before and had lingering doubts about my abilities. Sure, I wanted to be a nurse, but who knew what would happen when I had to take care of a sick patient for the first time? What if I couldn’t handle it?
Enter Eva Gomez, a nurse and clinical educator at Boston Children’s Hospital. She ran an internship program designed to expose high school students to nursing careers, and she shaped my nursing career from the moment I met her. Smart, confident, but not afraid to discuss her own mistakes, Eva made all of us instantly comfortable. She challenged us to think of nursing as a calling, not just a career. Eva never made us feel like students; she treated us like future nurses. The infusion of confidence I gained as a direct result of her intervention fueled me through my freshman year and showed me that even if I had doubts about my abilities, there was at least one nurse who believed I could do it. After the program ended, Eva and I kept in touch, as she has done for all the graduates of the program. I have frequently asked for her advice, and she remains a huge influence in my life.
My mentorship experience began my freshman year of high school through a program called Project Reach, which is designed to help at risk elementary school students academically and socially by pairing them with a high school tutor. I worked with three children over four years, providing both homework help and emotional support. In all cases, when the students felt comfortable sharing their feelings with me, their academic achievement increased. Additionally, their outlook on school changed from pessimistic to optimistic. I will never forget the pride each child had when they showed me their first perfect score on a spelling or math test, a feat they never believed was possible until they had someone who believed in them. Even here at NEU, my involvement as a mentor in Bouve Fellows has shown me just how valuable having someone show you the way is, especially in your first year at school.
Finding a mentor at work is crucial to your success, and not just in that they may help you “get ahead.” Mentors are a wealth of information about your chosen career and the complications you may run into as time goes on. A true mentor will want to help you succeed both professionally and personally. Eva and the countless others who have been mentor figures to me over the years have shaped my development every step of the way, allowing me to pay it forward and become a mentor figure myself.
I see mentorship as the best possible way to improve relationships within a group and encourage each member to work towards his or her goals. It perpetuates a cycle of service, building the confidence of the mentees while allowing mentors to have a positive impact on the community that gave them the opportunity to succeed. It also strengthens the bonds between the younger and older individuals, building a strong cohort that helps each one professionally as well as personally. I have had several mentors within nursing, and each has given me valuable information that I will carry with me throughout my nursing career. I have witnessed the positive effect mentorship has, particularly in the nursing major here at NEU. Nurses who graduated years or even decades ago look back on programs like Bouve Fellows fondly and are more willing to help younger nurses transition. The interconnected nature of the major coupled with program like Bouve Fellows creates a strong network of empowered nurses, not only benefiting Bouve College but also the healthcare community as a whole.
Julia Thompson is a second year Nursing major in the Bouve College of Health Sciences. She works as a nursing assistant at South Shore Hospital and is currently on her first co-op at Boston Children’s Hospital. She is the secretary of the Northeastern University Student Nurses’ Association and is also involved with Bouve Fellows. Feel free to contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions. Connect with her on LinkedIn and follow her on Twitter.