Cross-cultural interactions and globalization have become common terms used in healthcare and nursing now that technology allows us to connect to anyone, anywhere, in an instant. International engagement of nursing academics provides an opportunity to share insights, experiences, and ideas, which supports discussion about nursing practice, with an aim to improve patient outcomes. In 2015, a group of Sigma members formed an online community interest group to facilitate leadership development for global nursing and create a sustainable process of mentoring emerging leaders. We first learned about the member-led Global Leadership Mentoring Community in 2017 at Sigma’s Biennial Convention and were ecstatic to be invited to participate. As the word “mentor” has different meaning to individuals, this is our journey and perspective on peer mentoring through this global leadership development community.
I first heard about the Global Leadership Mentoring Community during my term as the Asia Regional Coordinator and a member of Global Regional Council Asia. The opportunity to join the Global Leadership Mentoring Community (GLMC) was exciting for me for two reasons. First, this was an opportunity to network with other nurses who have similar interests and experiences. I believe that one nurse can change the world, but it would be better if we worked in a team. Secondly, I thought my unique leadership journey to being a board member might be helpful for other Sigma members who are interested in expanding their career path.
After I joined the GLMC, I was assigned to work with a mentee from South America. My mentee and I were matched based on our area of clinical and research. In spite of a language barrier, we made multiple communication attempts to establish a relationship. We then realized that the language barrier may prevent us to fully achieve our goals. The GLMC coordinators arranging another mentor who could have a Spanish translator for my mentee. The coordinators presented a unique opportunity for me to be matched with another mentor in the cohort. Considering that we were at the similar career trajectory, they suggested that we can form “peer mentoring” relationship. I found this opportunity unique and was very excited to collaborate with Kylie, another mentor. We were the first peer mentors in the GLMC.
My interest in mentorship first peaked after completion of my PhD in 2013. I soon realized how much I had valued my time with my supervisors, who had guided me beyond the scope of my PhD. After graduation, I missed our regular meetings and discussions about the future.
I wasn’t quite sure about the type of mentor that I needed and how to approach the idea so instead I looked at those nurses and academics that I viewed as role models and began to approach them to ask for their advice and wisdom. So, I never really had any one particular mentor but instead a group of individuals that I respected and could go to. Around this time I also joined Sigma. I applied to be a mentor and coach and soon had the opportunity to undertake both. I enjoyed the experience but found myself wanting more. When I saw the opportunity to join the GLMC, I knew this was for me.
My mentee and I soon began our regular meetings and discussions about professional goals and aspirations, and the support offered to me from the GLMC also commenced. This consisted of regular emails and Zoom meetings. These meetings provided an opportunity to learn and grow as mentors and to share experiences. We learned from each other. Unfortunately, during the course of the year, my mentee was unable to continue, sourcing a position of her dreams in an isolated community were communication was almost impossible. Despite our journey being cut short, I found the experience to be extremely worthwhile and rewarding. Chatting with an experienced nurse on the other side of the world, but sharing the same barriers, concerns, and opportunities, reminded me of how universal nursing truly is. Despite our unique local context, beneath this is a layer of similarity that bonds us all to the profession.
Another unique opportunity soon arose, however. Our GLMC coordinators suggested that I pair with another mentor who was also without a mentee, leaving us to explore opportunities of how we could come together and create something unique.
Alone as mentors, we were provided a unique opportunity to pair for the remainder of the year. Guided by the Global Leadership Mentoring Community model, we used a co-mentoring structure. We established a trusting relationship through sharing goals and identifying mutual benefits and challenges. We reflected on our mentoring experiences that lead us to the GLMC and identified areas of commonality that could provide collaborative opportunities. This resulted in the sharing of our academic and research experiences as well as a plan for future collaboration both in teaching and in research.
We adopted an e-mentoring structure by using modern technologies, including email, Zoom calls, Google Docs, and Google Drive to share information, collaborate on work, and enhance our communication across the different time zones.
Although the relationship strengthened over time, we faced challenges of time commitment and scheduling conflicts (northern versus southern hemisphere academic calendars). Managing work related and professional commitments, along with family time (one of us had to be early morning and the other late in the evening due to time zones) added to the difficulties of scheduling regular online meetings. Barriers will always be present, though, and acknowledging them is an important discussion in all mentoring structures to promote success!
Despite these challenges, we found the community beneficial. Peer mentoring is an alternative form of the global leadership development that can lead to a strong network and productive relationship. Based on our experience, a pair between two nursing academics who are goal-oriented, committed, and passionate about the global leadership development strengthen this mutually beneficial relationship.
The outcome of this relationship has been the creation of a new network and an intent to work together on future research ideas and projects. Providing connections across our two countries (USA and Australia) can only be a positive outcome that we look forward to exploiting into the future. For more details about the GLMC, please contact Dr. Ellen Buckner at email@example.com.
Nada Lukkahatai, PhD, MSN, RN, FAAN, is an assistant professor at Johns Hopkins School of Nursing in Baltimore, Maryland, USA. She is a member of Sigma’s Nu Beta at-Large Chapter and Phi Omega at-Large Chapter.
Kylie P. Russell, PhD, MHSc, GCHRM, BN, RN, is an associate professor at University of Notre Dame Australia’s School of Nursing & Midwifery in Fremantle, Australia. She is a member of Sigma’s Psi Alpha at-Large Chapter.