Nurse Educator Education Project experiences

Student online mentoring

Authors: Professor Leena Salminen, Project researcher Imane Elonen

Empowering the Nurse Educators in the Changing World –study programme was developed, as a first step towards joint nurse educator education in Europe. During our educator education programme a great variety of distance teaching and learning methods were used to give participants equal opportunities to participate and enable self-directiveness at the same time. This called a great amount of support and mentoring for the students during the studies. In our project we think mentoring as partnership which contains authentic communication, enriching support, sharing knowledge (Busby et al., 2023) and supervising the studies.

Definition, content and forms of mentoring

Mentoring has been found to be an important thing to adapt new faculty to teaching and socialize them to the academic community (Webber et al., 2020). Mentoring contributes to career development through a continuous learning process and support for role development (Costa & Smith, 2023). Mentoring is often defined as a relationship between a more experienced mentor and a less experienced mentee for the purpose of supporting the mentee’s competence and career (Busby et al, 2022), but it is also considered as a support and guidance during the studies and career development (van Dongen et al., 2023.).

Mentoring can have different forms, e.g. formal mentoring, where mentors are assigned to mentees; informal mentoring, based on social attraction between the mentee and mentor; peer mentoring and group mentoring, where multiple mentors support the mentee (Busby et al., 2022). For novice nurse educator entering in nursing education without guidance and support, the transition can be frustrating and lead to career dissatisfaction. Mentoring can be one of the most important things for the successful learning process and also transition to academia, inspiring confidence in new nurse educators. Therefore, we aimed to mentor our student during the nurse educator education program.

Student online mentoring was activity conducted during the whole study programme “Empowering the nurse educators in the changing world”. Mentoring included guiding and instructing the students in the use of the learning environment, helping the students to access the study materials and tasks and supporting to use and utilize the technical solutions and applications used. Also, the educator professional development and career was discussed. The more experienced participants mentored and guided the less experienced participants. The participants wrote the learning diary to reflect their experiences and what they have learnt.

Elements of mentoring

Mentoring in the study programme consisted of three main elements. Techinical support and practical information, online mentoring with the study programme content and learning process, and on-site mentoring during the Empowering Learning Environments in Nursing Education (ELENE) intensive week and teacher training week during Evidence-Based Teaching (EBT) study unit. Technical support and practical information, and online mentoring with the study programme content and learning process was ongoing throughout the whole study programme. On-site mentoring occurred during the two week long on-site studying and training.

Technical support

Technical support and practical information started already before the study programme started, with preparation of material for students, who come from different backgrounds and countries. Written instructions with informative images were prepared, to ease the enrollment process and access of the digital environment and resources. Furthermore, after the enrollment, students received also one on one guidance via phone, e-mail and video conferencing tools, in case they had trouble accessing the learning platform or finding necessary materials or resources there. In addition, students could approach one of the instructors throughout the study programme. There were various instructors conducting mentoring during the study programme, but there was one instructor from University of Turku, assigned to keep in touch with the students throughout the whole 10-month programme. Students could self-determine the means they contacted the instructors, phone, e-mail or video conferencing. The learning platform news was utilized often, and instructors forwarded information and reminders about the learning tasks and deadlines and practical arrangements of the studies and travels.

Online mentoring

Similarly, as technical and practical support, online mentoring with the study programme content and learning process started already before the study programme started. Students who pondered participation and their own abilities to complete the study programme or some of the units, were guided and informed about the requirements and content of the study programme. The mentoring of the studies, started already on the second week of the programme, during ELENE online teaching. All students were invited to a video conferencing, should they need guidance in their group work. This was repeated also on the third week after a request from the students. Furthermore, guided group work was utilized in almost all of the study units.

In ELENE and Global Health Issues, there were two sessions of guided group work, and in Issues in Future Nurse Education (IFNE) and Ethics and Nurse Educators’ Work (ENEW) there were weekly online guided group work sessions. In addition, two study units, EBT and ENEW had a question hour. In EBT the question hour was about the practical and theoretical content and requirements of the teacher training, in ENEW the students had an opportunity to ask questions about the content of the study unit from an ethics expert.

Online mentoring was utilized also for preparation of the on-site elements of the programme. Before ELENE, students received information and instructions about practical arrangements. Communication was frequent, as the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and constantly changing restrictions and travel requirements caused plenty of uncertainty. Students received information and guidance about anything and everything related to traveling to Turku in the after waves of the global pandemic. Before EBT teacher training, the students had several online meetings with the receiving universities. They were guided in their preparations for the teacher training and presentations and teaching sessions that were expected from them during the training week, as well as practical issues about travel and accommodation, including frequent weather broadcasts and assurance the people coming from warmer climate would cope in the winter of the colder climate countries.

On-site mentoring

On-site mentoring, lasted for the two weeks students were visiting the organizing universities. On-site mentoring during ELENE was guided group works and helping students to find places where they needed to be. During EBT teacher training, on-site mentoring varied from place to place, as each and every receiving university had created individual programmes, based on the training opportunities and schedules and local expertice. Study visits were arranged in all of the universities to different collaboration partners and some extra curricular activities were also arranged to make the students feel welcome and give them opportunity to get familiar with the culture they were visiting. Students were also offered guidance during their learning tasks and the instructors in the universities shared their own experiences and expertise with the students.


Mentoring, during the Empowering the Nurse Educators in the Changing World study programme was successful, as majority of the students completed the study units they started, which is positive considering that online education has usually high dropout rates (Wang et al., 2019). During the study programme, the mentoring was seen as an ongoing process rather than a designed task. The mentors were available and listened to the students, and the structure of the guidance was altered based on feedback from the students. The regular availability of the mentors and guidance for social interaction, may have improved the completion rate. (Wang et al., 2019.) Furthermore, mentoring was not limited to instructors mentoring the students, but the students stated learning from each other’s experiences and expertice as well.


Busby, K.R., Draucker, C.B., Reising, D.L., 2022. Exploring mentoring and nurse faculty: an integrative review. J. Prof. Nurs. 38, 26–39. profnurs.2021.11.006

Busby, K.R., Draucjer, C.B., & Reising D.L. 2023. Mentoring-as-Partnership: The Meaning of Mentoring Among Novice Nurse Faculty. Journal of Nursing Education 62 (2), 83-88. DOI: 10.3928/01484834-20221213-03

Costa CB., & Smith JE. 2023. Career Satisfaction and Advancement Related to Mentorship Experiences of Underrepresented Nursing Faculty.Nurse Education Perspective 44(5), 291-294 doi: 10.1097/01.NEP.0000000000001173

van Dongen, L.J.C., Leino-Kilpi H., Jónsdóttir, H.J., Meyer, G., Henriques, M.A., Schoonhoven, L., Suhonen, R., & Hafsteinsdóttir, T.B. 2023. The experiences of doctorally prepared nurses and doctoral nursing students with being mentored in the Nurse-Lead programme: A focus group study. Nurse Education in Practice, epub.

Wang, W., Guo, L., He, L., & Wu, Y. J. (2019). Effects of social-interactive engagement on the dropout ratio in online learning: insights from MOOC. Behaviour & Information Technology, 38(6), 621-636.

Webber, E., Vaughn-Deneen, T., & Anthony, M. 2020. Three-Generation Academic Mentoring Teams – A New Approach to Faculty Mentoring in Nursing. Nurse Educator 45(4), 210-213. DOI: 10.1097/NNE.000000000000077


Studying in an international group

Blog post by Anndra Parviainen, University of Eastern Finland

My love and passion to nursing education ignite me to enrol in a comprehensive nurse educator education program offered by the Erasmus+ funded New Nurse Educator projectEmpowering the Nurse Educators in the Changing World. The study program is aimed for nurse educator candidates to prepare them for their work as nurse educators and to nurse educators to help them maintain their professional competence as nurse educators.

Issues in Future Nurse Education (5ECTS) is one of the study units of this program. Participants of the course were from different countries like Germany, Finland, Malta, Spain, Slovakia, and UK. Coming from Philippines, I realized that even though we came from different countries with different health care systems and culture, we are the same when it comes to the global health challenges and future issues in nursing education that we faced in this time. The most exciting part of the study unit was the intensive collaborative group project on integrating contemporary and future issues in nurse and health professions education in curricula in higher education.

Photo by Gerd Altman, Pixabay

Students were encouraged to form groups and come up with a topic for their collaborative group project during the first online session. The topics of the group projects were: interprofessional education, leadership, competence-based education, and mental health. The Future of Nursing 2020-2030: Charting a Path to Achieve Health Equity highlighted the need to build a broader coalition to increase awareness of nurses’ ability  to play a full role in health professions practice, education, collaboration, and  leadership; the need to continue to make promoting diversity in the nursing workforce a priority; and the need for better data with which to assess and drive progress (National Academies of Sciences Engineering and Medicine, 2021).

My experience working in an international team of learners is very rewarding. I admire the respectful atmosphere during the whole study course. There might be some misunderstandings due to miscommunications and language barrier, but at the end of the day, together we find solutions by communicating and clarifying things that seems to be unclear in a respectful and peaceful way. The uniqueness of every learner and wide array of expertise makes the learning process exciting and enjoyable.

Research evidence shows that collaborative group learning as pedagogical educational approach is effective for preparing students to work collaboratively with one another (Prichard et al., 2006; Sáiz-Manzanares et al., 2020). The impact of working in an international team of learners to my learning have improved my interpersonal skills and communication skills. Our mentors have shown us good example on how to facilitate collaborative learning and this skill is important to me personally as a nurse educator as I can use this approach in facilitating learning to my students. In conclusion, I can say that the course has empowered nurse educators like me by acquiring the updated knowledge and skills regarding the process of learning from multicultural group.

Image by Gordon Johnsson, Pixabay


National Academies of Sciences Engineering and Medicine. (2021). The Future of Nursing 2020-2030: Charting a Path to Achieve Health Equity. The National Academies Press.

Prichard, J. S., Bizo, L. A., & Stratford, R. J. (2006). The educational impact of team-skills training: Preparing students to work in groups. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 76(1), 119–140.

Sáiz-Manzanares, M. C., Escolar-Llamazares, M. C., & Arnaiz González, Á. (2020). Effectiveness of Blended Learning in Nursing Education. International journal of environmental research and public health, 17(5), 1589.

The author of this blog is Anndra Parviainen, a PhD-student form University of Eastern Finland (UEF), Faculty of Health Sciences, Department of Nursing Sciences, Kuopio Campus Finland. Originally, she is from Philippines. She came to Finland to advance her nursing career year 2015. At present, she works as Project Researcher in UEF and as Global Education Designer. Issues related to precision medicine, personalized care, and the integration of genomics in nursing education are her main areas of interest and are also related to her dissertation.


Just having fun in EleneIP!


The author of this blog is Johanna Kero, a PhD-student form Tampere University(current) and University of Turku (former). She works as a nurse lecturer in Satakunta University of Applied Science. Her interest is to pilottest different digital learning environments and applications with students. Her motto is: pilots never fail!

Empowering Learning Environments in Nursing Education (EleneIP) –course is a modern and innovative study unit for nurse educators and educator candidates. The study unit originates from an Erasmus+ project over a decade ago (Salminen et al. 2016). Then a two-week intensive face-to-face study unit has been modified and modernized into a hybrid study unit consisting of both interactive and individual online working and a face-to-face intensive week.

The constantly renewing study unit is well established and has gained great popularity among both Finnish and international students. The signature features of the study unit are the warm and inviting international atmosphere and solid evidence base that is constantly reviewed, to maintain high quality and timely research evidence. ELENE-IP gives an opportunity not only to meet international students and nurse lecturers but also  new ideas how to advance nurse education. During the course participants have an opportunity to test many digital learning environments and applications such as Instagram, Reddit, Mentimeter, Powtoon, What’sApp and many others.

As a doctoral candidate of University of Turku, I had a great opportunity to be a part of international EleneIP-course in a role of tutor in autumn 2021.  The year earlier, Covid-19 pandemic forced the ELENE-IP to be organized online but it didn’t matter. It is known that virtual training workshops can provide numerous benefits to learners (Smith et al. 2021) and I agree since the use of digital applications mentioned earlier, even simulations, worked very well as an online workshops.

Students and teachers during ELENE IP 2021 in September 2021. Photo Anna Mäkinen.

In autumn 2021, the EleneIP had biggest number of participants than ever before, about 40. Participants represented 10 different nationalities. What made this year special, was the number of international students, which was boosted by the Erasmus+ funded New Nurse Educator project participation with additional 15 international students. In addition, for the very first time, the intensive week was arranged as a hybrid-model as well, meaning that some of the students completed the study unit fully online whereas others were able to enjoy the hybrid model with face-to-face intensive week. Even though a minority of participants were participating online, the distance-accessibility (Smith et al. 2021) was deemed essential for this international course at this time of pandemic. Online learning can be highly satisfying, increase knowledge and improve engagement to the subject (Kim et al. 2021). Furthermore, both hybrid and online studies can be equally good for students (Ainslie et al. 2021). The online students in ELENE-IP intensive week, were able to participate all education and group works, but they felt occasionally forgotten and invisible. This is something all educators need to remember, when utilizing simultaneous hybrid education. Inclusion of distance students may require just a little bit extra attention but it is worth your while.

As a summary, in my opinion after EleneIP-intensive week my knowledge and expertise of digital teaching increased both in class room and online. If you feel that you need more competence of digital learning and teaching, EleneIP-course is the answer: you learn by doing from both point of views of learner and teacher.


Ainslie, M., Capozzoli, M., & Bragdon, C. (2021). Efficacy of distant curricular models: Comparing hybrid versus online with residency outcomes in nurse practitioner education. Nurse education today, 107, 105146.

Kim S-Y, Kim S-J & Lee S-H. 2021. Effects of Online Learning on Nursing Students in South Korea during COVID-19. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 18(16): 8506

Salminen L, Gustafsson ML, Vilen L, Fuster P, Istomina N & Papastavrou E. 2016. Nurse teacher candidates learned to use social media during the international teacher training course. Nurse Education Today. 36, 354–359.

Smith T.S., Holland A.C., White T., Combs B., Watts P. & Moss J. 2021. A Distance Accessible Education Model: Teaching Skills to Nurse Practitioners. The Journal of Nurse Practitioners 17: 999-1003