Background. The Institute of Nursing Executives is a professional organization with a membership of approximately 150 Australian nurse managers and administrators. Members of rural zones were concerned by the lack of support available to new managers working in isolated areas and sought to develop a mentoring programme that would establish both professional development and support networks for these managers. A pilot programme was developed for two rural areas of New South Wales and one metropolitan site (the city of Sydney).
Aim. The evaluation reported here aimed to determine participant expectations of mentoring and outcomes of the pilot programme.
Method. The programme included matching and self-selection of mentor and mentee roles and attendance at a full-day Mentoring Workshop. The programme was evaluated by voluntary and anonymous pre- and postworkshop questionnaires sent to all participants, and postworkshop telephone interviews.
Results. Thirty-seven participants (79% of those enrolled in workshop) responded to the preworkshop questionnaire (20 identifying as mentees; 17 as mentors). Findings reiterated the lack of professional support and access for rural/remote area nurse managers and illustrated that new nurse managers lacked confidence in coaching and stimulating staff. Expectations of both mentors and mentees were similar in valuing a confidential, on-going mentoring relationship. Postworkshop questionnaires (n = 16) and telephone interviews (n = 11) highlighted issues about personal choice and timing, expectations of a structured programme and making greater use of existing technology to support and maintain networks.
Conclusion. The pilot mentoring programme was highly successful in identifying strategies for the development of a tailored and sustainable programme for newly appointed nurse managers. Provision of a highly structured and facilitated programme carries high expectations of continued external support. Nurse managers also expressed a desire to choose when, how and whom they would select as mentors. Suggestions for the future included a greater use of technology to facilitate e-mail and internet-based discussion groups and mentor support.