Nurses want to help others — whether that means patients, families, or their own colleagues. That’s the basis of Mentoring@MSK, which pairs Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK) nurses of all kinds and career stages so they can gain an inside look at a different facet of the field. It’s also open to advanced practice providers, including nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and certified registered nurse anesthetists. Since the six-month-long program began in 2016, more than 400 mentoring partnerships have blossomed.
“Mentoring@MSK is a testament to the power of human connections,” says program leader Cortney Miller. “Those connections facilitate professional development and deeper engagement at any career stage.”
Though the participants each have unique responsibilities, what they all have in common is a penchant for partnership and a desire to grow. The result is more than professional empowerment. It’s personal, too.
Pearlah: I wanted to advance the clinical ladder and learn what it took to become a clinical nurse IV. Coco recommended people I could shadow. I was also able to participate in a research project after bringing an idea to Coco. In my role as a radiology nurse, patients often tell me how anxious they are about getting their scans back. I’m now working with our Patient and Caregiver Education group to develop resources and tools to help people cope with that anxiety. And it all started during that conversation with Coco.
Coco: I was so excited when Pearlah picked me as her mentor. I knew that great things were going to happen because she’s so motivated. I always feel inspired when I see other people grow, and I love to foster that in others.
I told her, “This is a great project to dive into.” If she ever started second-guessing herself, I would say: “No way. You have to go for it.”
Pearlah: She never doubted me, even when I doubted myself.
Coco: I leaned on her expertise, too. Radiology isn’t a realm I know well, and Pearlah does. And beyond that, I would bounce ideas off her about what my next career steps should be. She’s been a resource. The biggest piece of wisdom Pearlah gave me was to always chase that question, to keep going.
Pearlah: Coco helped me realize the value and importance of being a member of the nursing team here at MSK.
Coco: We are still very close. Anytime I see her, it lifts my day up. We were brought together for a reason. We are each other’s sunshine.
Elizabeth: Jericho and I met through a council task force at MSK. I really liked working with him — he got me interested in nursing informatics, a branch of nursing that combines nursing, information, computer, and other sciences to help us improve what we do. I didn’t really know much about it. I wanted to learn more about the field and whether it’s something I’m interested in pursuing.
Jericho: I wanted to give back to nurses here so they could grow and learn from my experience.
Elizabeth: The mentoring program gave us dedicated time to seriously talk about my career path and create goals. One of my goals became to apply for a graduate program, and I got into three. I’ll be starting a program in the fall. That’s all thanks to Jericho.
Jericho: I’m not going to take all the credit!
Elizabeth: Jericho is more than just a mentor or colleague — he’s a friend. He’s a wonderful teacher, and I hope one day I can be that for others. The mentorship program was a set amount of time, but our relationship will continue.
Jericho: Right. If she ever needs help with something or needs advice, I’m always here.