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Mentoring students in doctoral nursing programs: A scoping review

Background: Academic mentorship usually involves an ongoing, supportive relationship between experienced academics and research candidates, and is fundamental to establishing and nurturing scholarship and the skills for dealing with the changing demands of the academic environment. Mentoring is a valuable strategy for the development of students enrolled in doctoral nursing programs (Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing – PhD, Doctor of Nursing Practice – DNP, Doctor of Nursing Science – DNS, and Doctoral Education in Nursing – EdD). Purpose: To report mentorship experiences among doctoral nursing students and academic mentors, identify positive and negative attributes of mentors and the relationship between mentors and students, and assess the benefits and barriers of mentoring. Methods: Relevant empirical studies published until September 2021 were identified using PubMed, CINAHL and Scopus electronic databases. Quantitative, qualitative, and mixed method studies published in English language which reported on mentorship among doctoral nursing students were included. Data were synthesized into a scoping review with findings presented as a narrative summary. Results: The review included 30 articles, mostly from the USA, which reported on the mentoring relationship, experiences, benefits, and barriers of mentoring for the student and the mentor. Students valued mentor attributes such as being a role model, respectful, supportive, inspiring, approachable, accessible, a content expert and a good communicator. Benefits of mentoring included enhanced experience of research endeavours, scholarly writing and scientific publication, networking support, improved student retention, timely completion of the project, and career readiness, as well as developing one's own mentoring skills for future mentoring of others. Despite the identified benefits, there are a number of barriers related to mentoring including access to mentorship support, limited mentoring skills among faculty, and lack of compatibility between students and mentors. Conclusions: This review highlighted students' expectations versus their reality of mentoring, which suggested areas for improvement in mentoring doctoral nursing students, in particular the need for mentorship competency, support, and compatibility. Additionally, there is a need for more robust research designs to understand the nature and characteristics of mentorship programs for doctoral nursing students and to assess the expectations and wider experiences of mentors.





March-April 2023

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End Page


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Elsevier BV



Peer Reviewed

  • Yes

Open Access

  • No

Acceptance Date


External Author Affiliations

University of Tasmania

Era Eligible

  • Yes




Journal of Professional Nursing