The Peer Mentor Program is an organized peer support system for B.S. nursing students at the University of Maine. The program provides academic, psychosocial and career guidance to all interested students regardless of their membership in OSNA, their status in the nursing program, or services received elsewhere. This support is provided by peer mentors, volunteer upperclass nursing students and alumni. Peer mentoring activities include individual peer mentoring, group workshops on topics such as organization/time management and preparing for clinical, discussion circles in introductory nursing classes, new and prospective student orientations, and informational handouts on topics pertinent to nursing students. The caring, enthusiasm and commitment of peer mentors is expressed in the following comments:
“I am grateful to have met so many supportive upperclassmen whose guidance has truly enhanced my educational experience. To continue the mentor traditions of OSNA, I look forward to working with other students as they journey through the beginning stages of their nursing career…I encourage all students to make the most of their nursing career and seek to achieve greatness in all aspects of their education. ” ~ L.B.
“I am excited about the peer mentor program as I realize much of the information about the nursing program we gain from our peers… I would love to offer support with the challenges of nursing school.” ~ J.C.
“Remembering all the questions and confusion I encountered when I was new to the nursing program, I would have benefitted from a peer mentor program.” ~ H.H.
“Whether you just need some advice on study tips or if you’re feeling so stressed out and need someone to talk to, we are here for you!” ~ M.R.
The underlying mission of the Peer Mentor Project is promoting stronger more successful nursing students and prospective nurses through peer mentoring. This goal has three components. The primary and driving goal is for nursing students to manage challenges of being a nursing student more effectively and healthfully. The following comments exemplify how students have valued peer mentors and benefitted from being mentored:
“…was great. It is nice to talk to someone who has gone through what you are experiencing….I am in my junior year now and I am just discovering this program and would not change my meetings for anything. It not only was helpful to learn how they studied but sometimes we just talked about life and it is helpful because they have been there.”
“…has helped me so much. She is a great helper with one on one teaching. She is extremely knowledgeable and does a great job sharing that knowledge to help me understand. I’m so thankful to have had her help this semester. She is awesome!”
“I think … did a great job with the program and helping me understand how to survive microbio.”
“…was great. She helped me tremendously. I could not have asked for a better peer mentor.”
“I just wanted to say thanks to the ladies who put on the 201 clinical workshop…. it was very beneficial! I got all of my questions answered!…Thanks again!.”
A peer mentor similarly found that, “after sharing a study technique with … she said it helped her so much. She said she received an A on her next exam in one class and said she had not done this in a long time.”
A secondary goal of the Peer Mentor Project is for nursing students and alumni who serve as peer mentors and/or project organizers to gain interpersonal and leadership skills which they can then use and build upon as a new nurse. Many peer mentors have experienced such gains including developing teaching skills, improving time management, and becoming more self-confident as well as understanding and patient with oneself. They have also benefitted from reviewing course material as well as planning student goals which is similar to developing nursing care plans. Finally, they have found great satisfaction in helping others, which is a foundation of nursing. A third goal, which stems from the primary and secondary goals, is for nursing students to create and be more active participants in a stronger nursing student community.
The Peer Mentor Program is the result of the Peer Mentor Project, a service project of OSNA that was initiated by nursing students in late Spring 2008. The program began peer mentoring in January 2009. Peer mentors and other program organizers comprise the Peer Mentor Project group which meets every 2-4 weeks during the academic year to continually evaluate and develop the program. This group is led by a coordinator who oversees the group’s activities and represents the group to OSNA, the nursing student community, School of Nursing faculty, and the University. The project also has its own faculty advisor who serves as a resource person for students involved with project activities in any way as well as the liaison between students and School of Nursing faculty. Faculty are involved with the project to varying degrees. Peer mentors are given instruction about peer mentoring plus support and guidance as needed. Information about the Peer Mentor Project and Program is posted online in the Peer Mentor Project folder in the FirstClass OSNA conference. Information is also available in the OSNA newsletter the Pulse plus the OSNA office and some bulletin boards in Dunn Hall where the School of Nursing is located. Individuals can also always contact the coordinator, and if needed the faculty advisor, with any question or concern at any time (see contact info below).
Current and prospective students may seek assistance from the Peer Mentor Program at any time including during the summer. We do encourage students to make use of the program right from the start! New students who take NUR 101 Issues and Opportunities in Nursing, are introduced to the Peer Mentor Program there. New students who do not take NUR 101, such as transfer or Honors program students, may find out more information about the program as described immediately above. Prospective students should contact the coordinator, or if needed the faculty advisor.
Coordinator: Kelsey McGrath
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Patricia Poirier