Cultivating expertise in oncology nursing: methods, mentors, and memories.

L. R. Johnson, M. Z. Cohen, M. M. Hull

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


PURPOSE: To explore the development of clinical expertise and the role of mentoring experiences in this process for oncology nurses involved in direct patient care. DESIGN: Multi-institutional, descriptive, qualitative. SETTING: Six sites in different regions of the United States; rural and urban cancer and noncancer centers. SAMPLE: 38 oncology nurses (mean age = 35 years; average time in nursing = 10 years and in oncology = 7 years; 47% bachelor of science in nursing, 29% diploma, 13% associate degree in nursing, and 11% master's prepared). METHODS: Phenomenological; content analysis of interviews. FINDINGS: Development of clinical expertise and professional commitment requires a combination of protégée- and mentor-initiated behaviors. Protégée learning included reading, watching, attending, doing, asking questions, seeking peer support, seeking new opportunities, and associating with others. Mentor contributions included modeling standards and beliefs, coping effectively, explaining knowledge, and believing in, challenging, and supporting the protégée personally and professionally. The absence of mentoring also was of concern to nurses. True mentoring required on interpersonal connection and commitment between the protégée and mentor. IMPLICATIONS FOR NURSING PRACTICE: Mentoring enhances the development of expert nurses who combine competent clinical practice with strong interpersonal commitment to their patients and the oncology nursing profession. The benefits of mentoring outcomes for individual oncology nurses, their patients, the institutional setting, and the profession need further exploration, especially given the focus on advanced practice and healthcare reform.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)27-34
Number of pages8
JournalOncology nursing forum
Issue number8 Suppl
StatePublished - Sep 1994
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology(nursing)


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