In focus Education and Training
Mentoring with meaning
St George Private Hospital’s Nurse Educator Rhonda Luby and the hospital’s
national award-winning student Mara Sousa offer their advice on the
mentor/mentee relationship
St George Private Hospital Nurse Educator Rhonda Luby with Mara Sousa
hen it comes to effective
leadership, mentorship
plays a significant role in
the career development
and productivity of health
care institutions.
In what is believed to be the largest
qualitative study on mentoring ever
undertaken in a healthcare setting, the
“chemistry” of what is needed to make a
mentor-mentee relationship has now been
formally defined.
The St Michael’s Hospital study, based
on two large academic health centres in
the US, found that good mentors were
honest, trustworthy and “active” listeners,
while mentees needed to take their
mentor’s advice seriously, accepting at
least most of their mentor’s advice.
“A good mentor/mentee relationship
means both parties must actively listen.The
relationship also ideally needs to have a
win/win outcome,” said Rhonda Luby, nurse
educator at St George Private Hospital.
Study outcomes
Here are some of the characteristics that make for good and poor outcomes,
according to the largest study ever undertaken on mentorship.
Accepting mentor’s advice
Personal connections
Shared values
Mutual respect
Clear expectations
*Source St Michael’s Hospital
18 Private Hospital
F e b r u a r y 2 014
Lack of commitment
Not on time, going overtime
Personality differences
Perceived or real competition
Poor communication
Conflicts of interest (in mentor’s perception)
“At St George Private we have a
school-based traineeship where all work
experience counts towards the HSC. In
return, we teach some wonderfully
talented students who often come back
to work for us and are a valued part of
the team.”
According to Ms Luby, setting clearly
defined SMART (smart, measurable,
attainable, relevant and timely) goals for
mentees improves outcomes of the
mentor/mentee relationship.
“Mentors also need to be accessible
and let mentees know they’re in their
corner. Age differences need to be
considered as well,” she said.
“Millennials particularly, grew up in
an unprecedented age of positive
reinforcement (compared to Gen X-ers,
or boomers who were told to fend for
“For them, mentoring is even more
important.This means reinforcing when
they do well and very matter-of-factly
showing, rather than telling them what
to do when they make a mistake.
“We always tell our students to ask
more questions than they answer; never
be afraid to ask something and to look
for new ways to reinvent success …
usually this is sifting through their
failures to find out how to do it better
the next time.”
Mara Sousa was just 16 when she
started her school-based traineeship
with St George Private Hospital four
years ago.
Since then, Ms Sousa has gone on to
win the regional school-based Training
Apprentice of The Year and in 2013 was
awarded the Australian Student
Vocational Prize national award, which
recognises training achievements in
secondary education.
Ms Sousa plans to complete her
speech pathology degree next year and
then come back to work at SGPH as an
endorsed, enrolled nurse (EEN).
By Jane Worthington

Mentoring with meaning - Australian Private Hospitals Association