Mentoring Student Nurses in Theatre

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Mentoring student nurses in theatre

The Operating theatre is an alien environment for students and may be deemed hostile and uninviting. The role of mentors in such a specialised environment is to encourage interaction rather than passivity and utilise every learning opportunity that exists. Students should be encouraged to reflect on those experiences in a structured manner, to assist in their development of meaningful reflection, which is a valuable tool for throughout their career (Quinn 2000).

The aim of this assignment is to critically analyse and reflect upon an innovation, that relates to learning and assessing in the practice environment of theatres. The learning outcomes 1, 2 and 4 will be the focus for this assignment because I feel they are the most relevant for reflecting on my innovation as they cover the Importance of the student and mentor relationship in relation to their learning experience, the opportunities and limitations to learning in practice and the evaluation of learning theories and teaching strategies to facilitate the integration of theory and practice.

The innovation was a learning package titled 'Airway equipment & techniques in the theatre setting''. The pack was designed to be a basic insite into the different pieces of equipment and the techniques used and was presented to a second year student nurse, as part of a teaching session. Bruner (1961) explains that when presenting new information to students, the way the material is structured is important to overall learning. He believed that if students understand the basic structure of a subject they will find out much of the finer detail themselves. Spouse(2001) recognised that observation can aid in increased understanding, whilst practice can increase competence, provided the necessary knowledge is in place, in order to facilitate comprehension.

I believe that understanding the basics of airway management is a valuable and transferable skill that the student can utilise in any clinical setting. Quinn (2000) who formulated a student-centrered approach to learning, visualising the mentor as a helper and facilitator for and providing of, resources for learning, being someone who shares feelings as well as knowledge with their students. Before introducing some of the techniques and equipment used in airway management, i knew it was important to discuss with the student their level of knowledge and experience. Airway management may be an area that they believe is unique to the theatre environment.

In discussion with the student prior to the teaching session, i explained that in every clinical area there is an emergency resusitation trolley, consisting of a defibrillator, emergency drugs and one of the essential components on each one is an airway tray, each containing the equipment that is described in my innovation. During our conversation it was established that during their previous placements, no aspects of airway management had been covered. On previous placements they had been shown where the emergency trolley was kept, but there had not been any formal teaching to familiarise them with the components. Airway management and equipment was therefore not something they felt they understood very well, despite this they showed a keen interest in learning more about the them, acknowledging that although specialised, airway management skills are highly transferable to any setting.

Welsh and Swann (2002) believe it is essential to assess a students prior knowledge as this establishes a baseline for development and is a prerequisite for planning future learning. By making the time to discuss the students previous learning experiences at the beginning of their placement, it gives an opportunity for the mentor and student to develop the learning outcomes that need to be achieved and discuss how they wish to achieve them. Learning, according to Rogers (1983) is based on three key factors that exist in the...
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