South Georgia State College, Associate Professor of Nursing, Georgia
*Corresponding author:Susan Clement, South Georgia State College, Associate Professor of Nursing, 100 West College Park, Douglas, 31533, Georgia, Tel: 912 260 4361; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Submission: February 13, 2018; Published: March 19, 2018
ISSN: 2577-2007Volume3 Issue2
The concept of virtual mentoring is defined and analyzed in relation to its importance in nursing education. The benefits of a mentor and a good mentoring relationship, examples of successful virtual mentoring models, and how and why virtual mentoring is so valuably related to the education of the doctoral nursing student is also discussed. More doctoral prepared nursing educators will create effective teachers and nurse leaders, helping to reduce the nursing shortage and fill the gaps in the primary healthcare system. Virtual mentoring may strengthen the nursing profession by providing an opportunity for higher education where time restraints and geographical boundaries are no longer a restricting issue.
The traditional face-to-face mentoring has been commonly utilized by the nursing profession as a strategy to prepare nurses for practice in a variety of settings  but there is a new species on the horizon, virtual mentoring. Technology-mediated mentoring is a relatively new phenomenon in the field of nursing and is rapidly becoming a vital component in the current trend of online education. With the advancement of technology in education, there is a need for a newly designed concept of mentoring that may provide an opportunity to expand the resources and capabilities of doctoral prepared nurse educators. The purpose of this paper is to explore and define the concept of virtual mentoring and the impact it may have on nursing education.
In order to establish a functional model for virtual mentoring, an understanding of the terminology “virtual mentoring” must first be analyzed and defined. Merriam-Webster’s  online dictionary defines the term mentor as “someone who teaches or gives help and advice to a less experienced and often younger person”, whereas the term virtual is defined as “existing or occurring on computers or on the internet”. The concept of mentoring dates all the way back to Greek mythology arising from Homer’s The Odyssey character Mentor, who was thought of as a trusted adviser, teacher, and wise counselor . Vinales  defines mentoring as: “A process by which one person (the mentor) encourages another individual (mentee) to manage his or her own learning so that the mentee becomes self-reliant in the acquisition of new knowledge, skills, abilities and develops a continuous motivation to do so”. The term virtual mentoring has been used interchangeably with the terms E-mentoring, online mentoring, telementoring and cybermentoring . Virtual mentoring, “e-mentoring” was described as “a computer mediated, mutually beneficial relationship between a mentor and a protégé which provides learning, advising, encouraging, promoting, and modeling that is often boundary less, egalitarian, and qualitatively different than traditional face-to-face mentoring” . “Virtual mentoring” simply refers to any mentoring activity that does not take place face-to-face .
Virtual mentoring may provide students and educators opportunities for learning that may not have been previously available due to location and mentor availability. Mentors play a vital role in the education of nursing students; and with today’s technology there is a suite of communication tools that help to burst the virtual world wide open, providing mentoring to people working in remote locations, anyone, anytime, who would not otherwise have access to a mentor . While virtual mentoring is a relatively new concept to the field of nursing, companies like IBM, Xerox, and HP have been using the concept of virtual mentoring to establish global contacts .
Virtual mentoring may prove to be an invaluable asset to the field of nursing and can be a considerable educational tool. Access to a mentor without geographical boundaries and time restraints would have an enormous impact on the educational growth and advancement of the doctoral nursing student. Advanced technology and internet based communication such as email, social networking, and chat rooms are providing a new perspective on the existing concept of mentoring. The mentor-mentee relationship should include the use of technology, fostering dialogue through multiple modes of communication, all while creating a positive outcome for both mentors and students . Virtual mentoring is one of many new advancements in technology contributing to the development of on-line educational programs and the professional workplace.