The Role of the Mentor in Paramedical Education

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Defining Mentorship3

Classical Mentorship4

Modern Mentorship – Mentors as Assessors8



The Role Of The Mentor


Mentor, mentoring and mentorship are terms that have received increasing attention in health related circles over the last thirty years. In the ten years between 1978 and 1988 the number of references in the ‘ERIC’ database, which included ‘mentor’ as a keyword, increased from 10 to 95, Jacobi (1991). The literature of the following twenty years has continued this growth at a phenomenal rate, and to date there are over 2850 entries.

The term ‘mentor’ is however not a recent phenomenon, and has its roots in Greek mythology. Legend has it that Homer entrusted the guidance and teaching of his son, Telemachus, to his closest friend ‘Mentor’, Fields (1991). In more recent times, the eminent French writer Francois Fenelon used a man named ‘Mentor’ as the lead character in his book "Les Aventures de Telemaque", which was published in 1699, Roberts (1999). Following the publication of Fenelon’s ‘Les Aventures de Telemaque’, the term ‘mentor’ took the meaning of an older, wiser and more experienced person who takes the responsibility for a younger, more inexperienced persons learning and development, Andrews (1999).

Historically, the Ambulance Service has had little affiliation with Higher Education, and as such there has been little motivation to develop staff to become ‘mentors’. Training and competency assessments were generally carried out by Institute of Health Care Development (IHCD) accredited Instructors, and trainee’s learnt their ‘trade’ in a vocational setting, under the guidance of State Registered Paramedics. This model has previously been described as an ‘apprenticeship’, and has been the recipient of much criticism, due to it’s limitations in the preparation of practitioners, Kilcullen (2007).

Ambulance services across the country are increasingly aware of the need to evaluate their educational provision (Cooper 2005), and of the importance of involving higher education institutes in the preparation of Paramedics, British Paramedic Association (2006).

To facilitate the learning of Student Paramedics in practice the authors Trust is developing a cohort of experienced practitioners, referred to as mentors’. This assignment looks at the scope of mentoring, and draws on published literature to define the roles of the mentor in clinical practice. The paucity of research surrounding clinical Paramedic mentoring means that most literature used is sourced from publications primarily aimed at the nursing profession. However logic dictates that in the same way as nursing has long used theories from other disciplines (DeLaune and Ladner, 2002), paramedicine can draw upon research produced by the nursing profession.

Defining Mentorship
Almost every publication on mentoring begins with a review of the literature demonstrating there is little consensus on the meaning or characteristics of the term, Yonge et al, (2007). The eclectic mix of processes which all seem to occur under the broad umbrella term of ‘mentoring’ creates problems in defining exactly what the role entails. The general literature on mentoring is vast, and there are many definitions from which to draw, Madison et al, (1994).

For the purpose of this assignment, deliberating the actual definition of the term ‘mentor’ is probably more a matter of semantics. Contrary to Oliver and Aggleton (2002, p32), who state that “defining [mentorship] would appear to be of paramount importance…” this assignment will simply subscribe to the hypothesis that

“… the mentoring role is defined according to the individual understanding, and is not necessarily based on any of the
original concepts of the term.” Bidwell and Brasler (1989, p23).

The authors Trust has...
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