ONS member Phebe Lyndsey Gail Navarro Calimlim Chiang, BSN, RN, OCN®, is a clinical nurse coordinator in the Adult Infusion Center at New York University’s Langone Medical Center in New York City.
Qualities that make for a good mentor are patience and the passion to teach or share knowledge with others. Good mentors do this in a way that allows others to understand them and not feel insignificant or stupid. Good mentors admit when they do not have an answer and actually go through the process with you to figure out how to find the right answer. They are easily accessible and approachable. It wouldn’t make sense to have someone who was intelligent and knowledgeable as a mentor if they were unapproachable, someone who made you feel like you were asking a stupid question.
When I was new to the cancer center, the clinical nurse specialist kindly introduced herself and offered assistance for any needs I might have. The nurses on the infusion floor told me that she was the best resource for anything and everything clinical. Having someone to turn to helped make me feel a part of the unit so that I did not feel alone. I had more confidence in my nursing practice, knowing that if at any point I did not understand a protocol, or why things were done, or why a test was important, I had someone who could explain it to me and guide me. Because of her many years at the cancer center, her expertise in oncology nursing, and her willingness to be approached, I sought her advice on many aspects of my work, career, and education.
Having a mentor definitely had a huge impact on my professional development. My mentor helped me brainstorm ideas for projects, directed me to different resources, and reviewed guidelines that I wrote as a clinical ladder project. When I was ready to advance in my career, she wrote letters of recommendation both for my promotion and my application for graduate school.
—As reported to Contributing Editor Christine Bosley, BSN, RN, OCN®