Connecting for Growth: Strategies to Find and Leverage Mentorship in Public Health

Mentorship programs are used by more than 70% of Fortune 500 companies. Big business uses them as a way to reduce turnover, improve performance, and mold new employees for future leadership roles. Employees, meanwhile, often appreciate mentorship programs for their ability to reduce stress and connect them with people who can relate to their struggles.

Health-related careers experience high levels of turnover and produce significant stress. People working in healthcare can benefit significantly from resources like mentorship programs. In this article, we look at how to leverage the benefits of mentorship in health-related careers.

Why Mentorship Matters

Michael is fresh out of nursing school. He aced the dreaded NCLEX and recently began his first job working at a hospital fifteen minutes from his home. He loves the work, and while the job comes with challenges, he so far has been able to navigate them. Michael is making a difference in his community. Really, that’s all he has ever wanted.

But three months in and after a particularly difficult shift, he becomes disconcerted. His family at home has no way of relating to his experiences. At dinner, when everyone goes around the table talking about their day, he keeps his stories contained to the break room. Most nights he says nothing at all. What’s he supposed to say? We lost a patient today, please pass the salt.

Michael needs someone who can relate to the emotional challenges of the work.

That is the role many mentors play in the role of their mentees' lives. In the following headings, we will look at more concrete benefits that mentorship programs produce but it is that point of connection that attracts so many people to the programs and encourages them to stick with it.

Every job is hard but those in healthcare and public health hold unique challenges that only someone else who has been in the trenches can understand.

Benefits of Mentorship Programs

What is it about mentorship programs that make them so effective and important? Several benefits keep businesses and employees engaged with the mentorship process.

Mentorship programs establish workplace relationships: People are typically happier at work when they share a connection with their coworkers. Those connections have been de-emphasized slightly in the last several years as more and more businesses migrate toward remote work. Mentorship programs can help prioritize them. • They reduce turnover: Study after study shows that people participating in a mentorship program (both the mentor and the mentee) are significantly less likely to quit their jobs than people who are not participating. This is good for the employee, who will have developed better advancement opportunities the longer they stick with their job. It is also better for the business, which can avoid the high costs of recruitment. • They boost efficiency: There are several ways mentorship programs increase efficiency. One of them is through the considerations described above. Happy employees work better. They generate more effective results. Mentorship programs also clarify expectations, refine work-related processes, and establish a productive feedback loop that can be used to improve work-related results. • They make it easier to identify leadership potential: Mentorship programs are also a great way to identify potential future company leaders. Participants have the opportunity to show their chops by interacting with established staff. By learning the right way to perform tasks and navigate the complexities of the job, they become more eligible for advancement opportunities. It’s also easier for managers to identify highly productive employees who participate in the program.

Employers should note that the above considerations describe only a “best-case scenario.” For a mentorship program to be successful, it needs to be well-designed. It also needs strong participation.

How to Encourage Participation

Maybe mentorship is great for everyone involved. So is spinach, but you don’t see that flying off the shelves. How can you get a bunch of people to sign up for an optional work-related program? There are several strategies major companies all over the world are using to drive up participation in their mentorship programs. This includes:

Compulsory participation: Obviously, the way this is implemented matters a lot. People don’t like being told what to do, but since we’re talking about work here, that’s already in play. Compulsory mentorship programs guarantee participation, but they are only sure to be effective when certain other considerations are met. • Keep the program contained to work hours: Most people don’t want to stay late at work, regardless of how good the reason is. If you contain your mentor program within ordinary working hours, you improve the general attitude surrounding it and ensure that everyone is there to participate. It also helps that the participants know they are being paid for the time they spend in the program. Just make sure that the hour or so participants spend in the program doesn’t haunt them for the rest of the day. If they are in a mad dash to meet their deadlines the program will do more harm than good. • Make the program good: Even when participation is easy, it won’t be meaningful unless the people involved can clearly see what they are getting out of it. Making the program “good,” may seem abstract but there are clear ways to communicate your goals and expectations with your staff. What do you hope to establish with the program? Training? Quality of life improvements? Leadership developments? Make sure that your goals are clearly reflected in the structure of the program. If participants know what they are supposed to be experiencing, they will be well-positioned to give you feedback.

Keep in mind that it takes time for the full effects of a mentorship program to be realized. The hypothetical healthcare worker, Michael, who we mentioned at the start of this article, is dealing with a lot of stress.

That’s not something one or two meetings will solve. However, there is power in repetition. A carefully planned and leveraged mentorship strategy will produce benefits over time.


While mentorship programs can accomplish a lot, they are no substitute for providing employees with robust mental and emotional support. Many businesses are now providing work-life balance-related resources to their employees. Some offer counseling services and other benefits tailored to their emotional needs.

Mentorship programs only work when they are executed with thoughtful sincerity. If you are a healthcare manager trying to improve productivity and employee wellness, consider mentorship one part of a multi-faceted strategy.

Andrew Deen