Bega Valley Health Service Mentoring Program

Published 27 May 2020. Last updated 12 June 2020.

This ongoing project pairs new or inexperienced staff with senior, more experienced staff.

The objective is to enable staff development, which can lead to added confidence and enhanced clinical practice, as a result of passing on knowledge and skills.


To achieve a continuous stable level of support for staff who require assistance in their development.


  • Benefits to the mentee include an ongoing flow of information and support in their new or changing role.
  • Benefits to the mentor include stepping out of their own comfort zone, enhancing and evidencing their skill set for their own professional progression.


A need was identified for support of new graduate nurses and new staff, given the learning curve for new nurses is steep and stressful. The availability of a more experienced colleague to mentor and act as confidante was then found to deliver more confidence and higher levels of accurate performance by the new nurses.


A formal staged program took place to include application acceptance, and pairing of staff with their mentor. A structured timetable of training and pairing followed, with feedback sessions in place to monitor the progress throughout.


Sustained - The project has been implemented, is sustained in standard business.


University of Wollongong and the Clinical Excellence Commission

Implementation sites

  • South East Regional Hospital
  • Pambula District Hospital


Results will be assessed via:

  • Plan Do Stop Act (PDSA) cycles
  • verbal feedback and written qualitative data provided by mentors and mentees.

Feedback was given from managers of the new staff as to their improved performance.


  • Results for PDSA cycles 1 and 2 show over a 50 per cent improvement in clinical performance for 86 per cent of mentees, with a general anecdotal feedback element of enhanced self-awareness in the clinicians.
  • PDSA cycle 3 showed a 43 per cent increase in clinical performance. This was due to bushfires, mentors and mentees had not met up as frequently in the immediate period of December 2019 to February 2020.
  • Qualitative data from mentees showed a 97 per cent positive return with concurrence that the program had increased their confidence, helped them negotiate difficult issues and deal with conflict in a healthy way.

Lessons learnt

  • Mentoring works: Early feedback shows that in the period without mentoring in place, new starters felt less sure about their work and future career than they do now.
  • It takes time: Challenges existed around the set up and maintenance of this program. It has not been funded, which means the work is done in people’s own time.
  • Clerical assistance helps: A win was found when gaining clerical assistance for the 2020 program to assist in its running.
  • Mindset challenges exist: The biggest challenge was overcoming embedded culture and mindsets which suggest that mentoring is a waste of time and not beneficial to new staff. Use of practice development and motivational interviewing helped to turn this around and get people involved.

Further reading

  • Bryant L. Mentorship the way forward? Practice Nurse. 2017;47(4):24-27.
  • Chicca J, Shellenbarger T. Civility in nursing peer review: giving and receiving feedback. Nurse Author. 2018;28(4):1-5.
  • Clinical Excellence Commission. Quality improvement tools
  • Jug R, Jiang XS, Bean SM. Giving and receiving effective feedback: a review article and how-to guide. Archives of pathology & laboratory medicine. 2019:143(2);244-250.
  • Rohatinsky N, Harding K, Carriere T. Nursing student peer mentorship: a review of the literature. Mentoring & Tutoring: Partnership in Learning. 2017;25(1):61-77.
  • University of Wollongong. Mentoring program


Tracey Doran-Robertson
South East Regional Hospital
Southern NSW Local Health District
Phone: 0431 863 931


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