Expectations are high for acute care nurse practitioners (ACNPs), and novice ACNPs may benefit from additional support as they transition into advanced practice roles.

The U.S. has more than 300,000 licensed NPs, with over 36,000 completing their academic programs between 2019 and 2020. They may practice in various clinical settings, each with competencies, procedures, and patient populations.

ACNPs working in cardiothoracic intensive care units (CTICUs) are highly trained to care for critically ill patients with complex conditions and specialized needs. They must know various procedures, such as coronary artery bypass, cardiac valve replacement or repair, and heart or lung transplants.

A recent article published in AACN Advanced Critical CareRole of Mentorship in the Transition From Registered Nurse to Acute Care Nurse Practitioner in the Cardiothoracic Intensive Care Unit ,” details how mentors made a difference as a nurse with eight years of experience in a CTICU moved into an ACNP role. 

“Clinical knowledge alone is not sufficient to prepare a novice ACNP to enter an already- complex healthcare system amid a pandemic,” says Lidia Hernandez, DNP, RN, AGACNP-BC, CCRN-CSC, and lead author. “Mentors can help them navigate into a new role with confidence and help them evolve as clinicians and grow into leadership roles.”

The article notes the differences between mentorship and preceptorship, often occurring during orientation and focusing on acquiring specific knowledge or skills. On the other hand, a mentor may provide emotional support, guidance, and personal feedback to help with anxiety and imposter syndrome, as well as other issues that may impact effectiveness in a new role.

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It also discusses how the mentor helped the novice ACNP develop solutions to challenges with the new role, such as improving organization, preparedness, and access to resources.

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