zannini l., cattaneo c., brugnolli a. & saiani l. (2011) How do healthcare professionals perceive themselves after a mentoring programme? A qualitative study based on the reflective exercise of ‘writing a letter to yourself’. Journal of Advanced Nursing 67(8), 1800–1810.
Aims. This article is a report of a study of participants’ responses to a reflective practice exercise about a mentoring programme.
Background. Participants’ opinions on mentoring programmes are considered a fundamental component of their evaluation. These opinions are commonly gathered through questionnaires, interviews and focus groups.
Method. An 18-month, multi-professional, mentoring programme was started in 2000. About thirty participants (60% nurses) were involved each time in three consecutive classes. Participants’ learning achievements were assessed by short essays. Participants’ perception of themselves was evaluated during the last course (ended in 2008) by a reflective writing exercise: ‘write a letter to yourself’. A phenomenological-hermeneutic analysis was conducted on the 27 returned letters. The letters were inductively analysed, the resulting core concepts were labelled and then grouped into categories to identify the main themes.
Findings. Six themes were identified: (1) the mentoring programme can be a strategy for career advancement and professional development, but (2) it was also a challenging experience that put participants to the test; (3) the mentoring programme taught not only how to mentor students, but also how to be a mentor; (4) mentoring is an ‘in progress’ experience; (5) the mentoring programme was very positive for group processes and it created a web of professionals and (6) after the mentoring programme, many participants felt profoundly changed both professionally and personally.
Conclusions. Mentoring is a profound relationship that can deeply change the mentee, and training to mentorship can affect the identity of the future mentor, as well.