A BSN Mentoring Program to Shape Future Nurses

GMercyU Senior Katie Betts (left) with mentor and GMercyU alumna Kaila Griffenburg (right) at Abington/Landsdale Hospital.


Behind most successful people is a mentor who positively impacted them. Someone who showed them the ropes, how to - or not - handle certain situations, and gave them the confidence to succeed on their own.  

That's the vision behind GMercyU's Dedicated Education Unit (DEU) program. 

The Dedicated Education Unit was established to assist senior Nursing students with the transition from student to entry-level registered nurse. GMercyU's top senior Nursing students are chosen to participate in the DEU after a rigorous application process. Once selected, students are paired with an experienced RN mentor at one of 20 participating hospitals, typically one where the student would like to work post-graduation. 

"A mentor program provides the opportunity for these nurses to mentor students that will become the future healthcare leaders of tomorrow. Students must come prepared to take advantage of every learning experience," Dr. Tricia O'Hara, RN, Professor & Assistant Dean of Undergraduate students for GMercyU's Frances M. Maguire School of Nursing and Health Professions said. 

Students follow one nurse for a total 136 hours, working with their mentor for entire 12-hour shifts, including weekends and off-shifts. They start with patient care, progress to administering medications, and eventually take full charge of patients. Over the course of the program, mentors help improve students’ communication and time management skills, ability to handle conflict, work as effective team members, and become overall better clinicians.  

"I saw it as a great experience to learn one-on-one with another nurse and follow the routine of an experienced nurse. I thought I would be learning a lot more in this experience than a regular clinical, especially when it comes to time management and priority setting," senior Nursing student Katie Betts said. 

From One Griffin to Another 

Since launching in 2019, the DEU program has graduated more than 300 students.  

In the true spirit of the program, five GMercyU alumna who participated in the Dedicated Education Unit are serving as mentors in the program this year: Taylor Simmons ‘19, Kyleen Tidwell ‘22, Kaila Brown Griffenburg ‘21, Brenna Selby ‘19, and Alexa Cruz ‘22.  

For Kaila Brown Griffenburg, her experience in the program and working at Jefferson Lansdale Hospital was "worth its weight in gold." 

"I know without a doubt that I am able to provide such well-rounded holistic patient care because of my time in the DEU program and status as a GMercyU Nursing graduate. I know that the program has an unparalleled impact on students," Kaila said.

"This experience provided me with copious hands-on knowledge and skills, all of which I credit with my ease in passing the NCLEX on the first attempt." 

Kaila was immediately hired by Jefferson Lansdale Hospital just before graduation and has been working on the same floor since. Now, Kaila has the unique opportunity to shape future nurses. 

"I know the power and influence of a good mentor. What better way to help improve the nursing field than by helping shape future nurses into the kind that can provide patients with the care they need and deserve, who can improve the field themselves with the skills they  provide, and ensure future generations are set up for success," Kaila said. 

Seeing the changes in the profession firsthand, Brenna Selby ’19 knows the importance of giving new nurses support and encouragement. It's why five years after participating in the DEU program at Einstein in the mom/baby unit, where she still works today, she is giving back. 

"I know in the craziness of our days, it can be a lot of work taking on students or new grad nurses, but we were all in that position at one point when we were just starting out, and we all remember the nurses who were kind and willing to help us learn," Brenna said.

"In a world where the nursing profession has changed in so many ways and we have seen so many nurses leave the profession through the pandemic, we need to encourage new nurses to love what they do and show them there are nurses willing to help them succeed." 

Brenna's mentee, senior Nursing student Jolie Carney, is grateful for the experience, especially coming from someone who was in her shoes not that long ago.  

"She went through the program at the same hospital on the same unit, so she understands everything I am doing. She went through the same grueling hours of classes and studying. I feel as though I can relate to her," Jolie said.  

Vision fulfilled.