Every interaction a mentoring opportunity to help others build confidence, find success

CherylYoungCheryl Young, the Lean Transformation Officer at Tucson Medical Center, was recently named Most Inspirational Mentor of the Year by the Tucson Nurses Week Foundation, an award that promotes the growth and support of professional nurses in the community.

As one nomination notes:

“Her belief is that nurses should be teaching on a daily basis, and also learning on a daily basis. She is consistently approachable and willing to share her knowledge with everyone.

She creates the vision and possibilities for our future culture and processes, and consistently strives through coaching and mentoring to get us closer to that realization.”

We caught up with Cheryl to talk about the importance of serving as a role model and coach to other nurses.

I’ve wanted to be a nurse since I was 3, when my mother bought me the Little Golden Book “Nurse Nancy.” It had a package of Band-Aids in the back that my mom would refill so I could keep patching up my two older brothers.

But what that career has looked like, and the shapes it has taken, has been the result of many voices.

Without each of their contributions at different places along the way, I wouldn’t be in this space, where I have had an amazing opportunity to help this organization – and the people who work here – improve what we do every day.

The recognition is very special to me, even though I don’t feel like what I do is particularly special. It feels like normal life: Something more like a neighborhood potluck than black-tie formal.

Just as opportunities within nursing are endless, the ability to support one another on those varied career paths is something we can do more often than we might realize.

Mentorships don’t have to be a formal relationship. There are formal mentoring programs, and we do them here at TMC, but for me, mentoring has broader applications.

Grandparents who make you a better person; parents who keep you motivated; older brothers who shared their career decisions; the seasoned nurse in ICU who took time to teach me skill sets and prompted me to think critically. Those are all forms of mentorship. It’s every time you gave words of encouragement, offered advice, or asked questions such as, “What are your goals? Where do you see yourself in five years?”

I think all of my bosses in one way or another have served as a mentor to me. Our interactions – whether good or bad – led me in different directions.  Early in my career, a charge nurse, who was a great mentor, gave me the confidence to know that I had the knowledge base to do critical care. A lot of what a mentor does is help you build the self-esteem you lack and get you to a place where you can say, “I can do this.”

Mentors don’t provide the answers. Mentors ask the right questions. They should get you thinking, stimulate the thought process, and provide feedback – not answer the question for you.

Help mentees find the source of their motivation. When people come to me and say they feel like they handled a situation badly and want to know how they could have handled it differently, we have a conversation. It’s important for them to figure out the “why” behind their response. What did the other person do or say – or what is it about them overall – that triggered that response? Once we get to the root of that, we can take a step back and think about how they might handle that situation differently in the future. You’ve got to have people in your life to serve as your sounding board, and provide honest feedback or you can’t improve.

Everyone is a mentor. For me, a mentor is a person you go to when you have a difficult decision to make and you are not sure which path to take. Every staff member here and every interaction can meet that definition if you take every opportunity to look for the positive outcomes and see how you might do things differently. Even when you’re a brand new nurse, you’re mentoring people. You’re mentoring your patients and family members to either help them get better or learn to deal with whatever it is life has given them that brought them into the hospital.

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Tucson Medical Center | 5301 E. Grant Road | Tucson, Arizona 85712 | (520) 327-5461
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