From novice to expert, and the in-between: a narrative of the evolution of a novel reflective professional development mentoring program.

Dr. Peta-anne Zimmerman1,2, Dr Deborough Macbeth2, Mrs Rita Roy3

1Griffith University, Southport, Australia

2Gold Coast Hospital and Health Service, Southport, Australia

3Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Hospital, Hornsby, Australia



Mentoring has been identified in the literature as a means of supporting the professional development of nurses and other healthcare professionals from novice to expert. The setting for most mentoring studies has been conducted in nursing faculties aiming to help the transition of new nurse educators or graduate nurses. There are no mentoring studies reported in an Infection Control setting. The aim of this report is to provide a narrative of the use and evolution of a structured professional development and mentoring model incorporating a reflective tool to facilitate novice infection prevention and control professionals to become experts within the infection control department of a large tertiary facility.


A professional development program (PDP) was developed for new staff members to facilitate acquisition of knowledge and development of skills essential to their role. The structure of this program evolved in response to the demonstrated needs of participants to include a mentor-guided professional development and mentoring program (PDMP) in accordance with a framework using critical reflection, goal setting and mentor feedback.  The program spanned a period of six-months with weekly assessments of the mentee’s progress towards the self-identified goals.


Staff who participated in the PDMP informally reported positive growth both personally and professionally in infection control. Their feedback corroborated the findings from the measurable outcomes used to demonstrate their progress.


This pilot program has scope for replication in other healthcare settings and will aid in succession planning, a critical need in nursing and more specifically, infection control.


Peta-Anne is the Director of the Griffith Graduate Infection Prevention and Control Program at Griffith University, a member of the Menzies Health Institute Queensland, and Visiting Research Fellow at the Department of Infection Control at Gold Coast Hospital and Health Service, Australia. She is also on the editorial board for the Journal of Refugee and Global Health. Her research interests include infection prevention and control in emergency settings, pop-culture pedagogy, low-resource setting healthcare, healthcare worker safety and the scholarship of teaching and learning.  Her expertise has led her to work extensively in China, South East Asia and the South Pacific, directly on outbreak response, and the development of comprehensive infection prevention and control programmes and integration of public health and acute care response in infectious disease emergencies in low and middle income country settings.

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