July 26, 2019

New nurse finds friend and confidant in her mentor

'You just need a person who gets it,' says Laura McKenna of her NurseMentor match Jackie Kresnyak
UCalgary NurseMentor participants
Jackie Kresnyak and her mentor, Laura McKenna

Jackie Kresnyak joined NurseMentor in her final term as a UCalgary Nursing student. She was soon to be off to Qatar on placement and hoping to connect with someone who could guide her in her first year as a nurse.

When Jackie registered for the mentoring program, she said she was open to working with different populations, that she cared a lot about her patients, and also that she was “very nervous about graduating, as I still feel as though I have so much to learn.”

Once she connected with her mentor Laura, an ICU and hospice nurse, she got loads of helpful advice about getting a job, about things she didn’t even know mattered.

But that was just the start. Jackie and Laura became quick friends. They connected every month, sometimes in person, and they wound up working at the same hospice.

They share personal stories and they confide in each other about more serious issues they encounter at work.

Why it worked out so well

When asked what it took for their mentorship to work, Jackie said she needed to meet her mentor in person. She had a few tough questions. She was curious about how to deal with difficult issues.

“I wanted to meet the person first because the questions I had made me feel vulnerable.”

Mentors benefit from this partnership, too. In their times of vulnerability the energy and optimism of a student mentee can be just the boost they need.

“It was useful for me to get some energy and positivity back in my working life,” says Laura. “I really wished there was something like that in place like that when I was a student.”

“If I were a student, just knowing there was a go-to person, for me. Everybody needs a person to be like, ‘This crazy thing happened to me today.' You just need a person who gets it."

UCalgary Nursing’s online mentoring program connecting alumni RNs with student nurses for professional and personal growth. To find out more, visit nursing.ucalgary.ca/alumni/nursementor