Nursing pilots peer mentorship program


by Morgan Vuknic, Creative Services Student Writer

Nursing Peer Mentors

“I want to help others in areas where I would have liked to have been helped,” senior nursing student Colin Alfieri said.  

Students who are newly admitted to JMU’s nursing program are faced with a challenging workload and often look for resources that can help them be successful. Nursing adviser Kelly Schuhmann said students work hard to get into the nursing program and may feel intimidated by the program’s competitive nature. 

Due to the caliber of this program and the workload that comes with being a nursing student, Schuhmann and nursing professors Christina Lam and Betsy Herron have created a peer mentorship program where newly admitted nursing students are supported by students already in the program.  

“We want our students to adopt a teamwork mindset with each other, because they’re going to be working in a teamwork environment as healthcare workers,” Schuhmann said. “We want them to be able to lean on each other and support each other through nursing school because the BSN program is so rigorous; they need each other's support.”  

Students who decide to be part of the program are assigned to either a mentor or mentee role. Lam said that mentors are seniors who have been in the program for at least two semesters and mentees are juniors who are just entering the BSN program. She said the program is set up this way so that mentors can be a source of knowledge for their mentees and can help them adjust to being in the nursing program.   

“Our mentorship program is looking at holistic growth for those going into the professional world,” Lam said. “The program will allow students to receive professional mentorship but it will also help them to round themselves out to where they’re able to bring their whole selves to any professional role in the future.”  

With mentors being experienced students in the nursing program, Herron said the goal is for the students to pass on what they know to the younger students. She said students often don’t come to professors for help so this mentorship allows struggling students to get help from someone they can relate to and has been through what they’re going through.   

“[Through this program], the mentors get to share the knowledge that they have,” Herron said. “They have the opportunity to pass on what they’ve learned and to gain leadership experience which will help them develop professionally.”  

Senior nursing student Addy Price said she gets a sense of pride from helping her mentees. She recently had one mentee tell her that she’s inspired them to become a mentor in the future. Price said she has enjoyed working with her mentees as well as talking with the other mentors.  

“I think this program will help with my professional development a lot,” Price said. “Teamwork and working with people that have different levels of knowledge are big parts of it. At the end of the day, we’re all equals and we’re here to help each other learn.”   

Alfieri said newly admitted nursing students sometimes feel like they’re on their own to figure things out. He said the mentorship program allows him to guide younger students and give them advice since they often need help navigating the nursing program.   

“New nursing students can feel like they’re thrown into the dark,” Alfieri said. “Having that light from someone who has been through it makes the process significantly easier.”   

Agreeing with Alfieri, Price said that she wished a program like this existed when she was a newly admitted nursing student. She said beginning the nursing program is very stressful and she would’ve liked to have had someone guiding her through it.   

“I love being involved, especially when it involves helping other people,” Addy Price said. “I remember being a first semester [nursing student] and feeling so lost. If I had someone a semester above to tell me that everything’s going to be alright, I would’ve signed up for this program in a heartbeat.”  

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Published: Thursday, March 31, 2022

Last Updated: Thursday, January 4, 2024

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