The Nursing and Midwifery council (NMC) standards of proficiency for pre-registration nursing education (2010) sets out exactly what student nurses must achieve to enable registration onto the first part of the register. Another NMC publication; Standards to support learning and assessment in practice (2006) lays out what a post registration nurse requires to fulfil in order to formally assess student nurses. These two sets of standards make it clear what is expected of both students and mentors when learning in the clinical environment. This makes the process of mentoring sound simple, however, the reality of working on a busy ward coupled with staffing shortages and low morale makes this a complex and challenging task (Ref). As a post registered nurse with two years clinical experience I am well aware of the constraints and stresses on the other side in which nursing staff must work under. Despite this, mentoring is also a very rewarding aspect of nursing (Ref). As someone who has experienced highs and lows throughout my nurse training I promised myself that I would make every effort as a future mentor to make the learning experience in my company as positive and advantageous to my mentees as possible. To that end, this essay will be a critical reflection of my experience of mentoring a pre registration student nurse on a busy surgical ward. I will begin with a brief introduction to mentorship before covering my main topics which will be; The mentor student relationship, and the process of giving feedback. In order to maintain structure, reflect appropriately and learn from my experience I have chosen to use Gibbs model of reflection (Annex 1) to detail my experiences.
One of the recurring themes in preventing the development of a standard definition of good mentors, is the lack of coherent guidance on what mentors should be and should do or how they should behave (Clutterbuck 2004). Authors views of what makes a good mentor often conflict or at best are widely variable (Andrews and Wallis 1999). Research carried out by Hicks (2011) indicated that a good mentor is someone with a depth of knowledge in the subject they are teaching. Contrary to this, however, a small qualitative study by Cahill (1996) showed that students when asked the question what made a good mentor answered that someone who was friendly, approachable and could give constructive criticism. This only highlights the discrepancy in what actually makes a good mentor. The NMC have their own framework with which nursing mentors should be guided by as set out in the document Standards to support learning and assessment in practice (NMC 2008). They include, establishing effective working relationships, facilitating learning (adapting teaching to the students stage of learning), being able to evaluate practice and provide effective feedback and creating a working environment conducive to learning to name a few.
Mentoring is something that all nurses must participate in at some time in their career whether it be formally or informal. This is set out in the Nursing and Midwifery Councils code: Standards of conduct, performance and ethics for nurses and midwives. It states “You must facilitate students and others to develop their competence” (NMC 2008, p.5). Many nurses go in to this role in an informal capacity, whereby a student can be matched up with any nurse on shift regardless of their experience and knowledge, which can lead to pre-registration students being taught by inappropriately skilled nurses who themselves may not be long out of education (Hodges 2009). I, like others have looked after students when their mentor had not been on shift but in hindsight I realise that these students may not be receiving the quality of mentoring that they should be. For this reason I have chosen to complete the Supporting Learning and Assessment in Practice (SLAiP) course in order for me to improve the way I teach others. Time will tell if this...
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