A Community of Care: Nursing Students Mentor One Another
The phrase “nurses eat their young” is often used to describe the sometimes difficult initiation of new nurses to the profession at the hands of more experienced colleagues.
At Chamberlain’s Addison campus, students have taken the exact opposite approach – systematically providing guidance, mentorship and encouragement to all entering students.
When Jennifer Kampy started the 3-Year Bachelor of Science in Nursing program, she immediately had a supportive classmate to turn to for advice.
Kampy was assigned a student mentor through the organization Committee of Achievement, Learning and Mentoring (CALM).
“I would always reach out to my mentor Lyndsey about classes, clinical, or her schedule and she was always more than happy to answer any questions I had,” Kampy said. “She was a huge support system during school and even now while I am preparing to take my NCLEX. She gave me all the materials and resources she used to help her prepare! She's extremely passionate, caring, outgoing and an amazing friend.”
CALM, a student-run organization, pairs all incoming students on campus with a student mentor who is further along in the curriculum. Mentors serve as an extra resource and they regularly email new students to check in, give study tips or answer questions.
During the first week of classes, CALM members give new students a tour of the school, introduce themselves and exchange contact information. On Week 6 of classes, they return for an “Ask an Upperclassmen” event. Kampy, who is a former president of CALM, said this Q&A event was her favorite.
“New students are so nervous yet excited about clinicals and certain classes and I loved being able to give them advice so early on in their journey,” she said. “My favorite piece of advice is to take what others say with a grain of salt. A class that may be easy for you could be hard for someone else and vice versa. People often get so nervous about certain classes and build up anxiety about them and I always liked to reassure them that everyone is different and you just have to go into every class and give 100%.”
Approximately 40 upperclassmen volunteer as mentors for the organization. Current CALM President Charlotte McNerney says joining the group has helped her meet new people, and it’s also been gratifying to “pay it forward” to new students.
“Whenever I see my mentees around campus their eyes light up, and they smile and wave at me,” she said. “I can tell that they like to know a friendly face that they can say hi to.”
For many students, the support of their mentor endures throughout nursing school and beyond. At Kampy’s graduation in April 2016, she was asked to select a significant person in her life to present her nursing pin and welcome her to the profession. She chose her mentor, Lyndsey, to do the honors. As Lyndsey helped her through her time as a student nurse, she also stands ready to support her in her next phase.
“Lyndsey's a registered nurse on a general medicine unit at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and she helped me get an interview when they were hiring.” Kampy said. “I went in for an interview and got offered a position before I even graduated school!
"Being welcomed at the Addison Chamberlain College of Nursing campus; a place I would begin to call my home for many months to come. This is one of my favorite little keepsakes from my senior mentor. CALM is truly one of a kind and I was so grateful for weekly yoga sessions!"