Preparation for Mentorship

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Allison is a 2nd year Midwifery student. Whilst on her clinical placement on an Antenatal and Postnatal ward, has been observed by her Mentor and associate Mentor, to fail in her actions to show competence in her practice whilst caring for the women. The key areas identified by her Mentor are: failing to explain her actions to a women in her care who has more complex needs, failed to gain verbal consent and failed to maintain privacy or dignity. Her associate Mentor has been concerned on shift with Allison as she noted that Allison did not follow universal precautions such as appropriate hand-washing or wearing gloves and apron when required. Within the Nursing and Midwifery Council’ (NMC), code of conduct states that: “As a registered nurse or midwife, you are personally accountable for your practice. In caring for patients and clients, you must: respect the patient or client as an individual; obtain consent before you give any treatment or care; protect confidential information; cooperate with others in the team; maintain your professional knowledge and competence; be trustworthy and act to identify and minimize risk to patients and clients” NMC (2004). With this in mind it highlights how important it has been for the mentor to recognise Allison’s weaknesses in her clinical practice if she is going to be signed off as fit to practice.

Firstly to ensure that the mentor supports Allison in her practice it is advantageous to define and examine the term “mentor”, characterising both good and poor features so that the mentor can achieve a fair assessment. If we explore the hypothetical causes, which may be influencing Allison’s practice, then the mentorship process will address learning, teaching and assessment of competence and we can provide a respectable level of support for Allison. The development of an action plan, a fair assessment and good mentorship will be crucial to Allison’s success. Following on from this, in the event should Allison not achieve the required level of competence, this assignment will lastly look at the concept of an underachieving student and how the mentor can be supported in making the decision to fail a student, as many mentors can find this challenging. (Duffy 2003).

After much confusing use of differing terminology, due to the diverse nature of the role of mentorship, such as ‘clinical facilitator’, ‘preceptor’, ‘assessors’, ‘supervisors’; the UKCC 2000 has clarified that the term ‘mentor’ was preferred. A Mentor has been defined as a practitioner ‘who facilitates learning and supervises and assesses students in the practice setting’ (ENB & DoH 2001). A mentor is a very complex role and within the role comes much responsibility and accountability. The NMC has published generic guidelines for mentors which states the responsibilities of a mentor include: “provision of support and guidance in the practice area; facilitation of student learning; assessment and evaluation of the student; acting as a positive role model; and ensuring students are fit for purpose, practice and award” (NMC 2002, 2005). A good mentor relies heavily on many personal qualities to ensure success of the mentorship process (Pulsford et al. (2002) cited in Quinn F 2007). Various sources of literature have suggested that a good mentor is one who is trustworthy, generous with their time and transparent (Quinn F, 2007). Other qualities include being knowledgeable, patient, kind, a good listener, sound practitioner and have good communication skills to name just a few ( Darling, 1986; Davies et al., 2002, cited in Quinn F 2007). To corroborate this, another study by Myall et al exploring the role of the mentor, found that the results indicated that students view their mentor as a good source of support, and that the role of the mentor should assist the student in feeling welcomed to the practice area, being valued as a team member, ( Myall et al 2008). Conversely a qualitative study of...
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