Preparing Facilitators of Practice Learning and Assessment
Word count: 2179
The purpose of this assignment is to critically reflect on strategies used to mentor a second year mental health student in a community mental health team. The essay will refer to interpersonal skills used to develop the mentor-mentee relationship, and the practical steps taken to facilitate learning; to make this more tangible the focus will primarily rest on the author’s approach to teaching the learner how to administer an antipsychotic depot injection. The discussion will encompass major theories that underpin learning, explore the relevance of learning styles, and draw on relevant literature.
Any discourse on mentoring ought to begin with the question: what is the definition and role of a mentor? McAllister (1997) offers this: ‘A professional who engages in a teaching and learning process which is student centred and occurs in the context of client care. It involves the translation of theory into the development of knowledge and professional skills, with the incorporation of the affective domain needed for sensitive and ethical care.’ (McAllister 1997 p3). Darling (1984) identified the expected roles of mentors , which included that of role model, supporter, teacher and coach, giver of feedback, problem solver, challenger and investor; whilst Gopee (2007) offered a long list of desirable characteristics, such as patience, open mindedness, approachability, a sound knowledge base, self-motivation, good teaching skills, the ability to provide psychological support, tact, diplomacy, confidence, honesty and trustworthiness, versatility and flexibility, and willingness to be a mentor. Taking in the complex array of suggested roles, characteristics, and the ideas around mentoring, the author considered it pertinent to initially approach the mentor-mentee relationship with the simple tenets of a person-centred approach – Carl Rogers (1983) advocated using empathic understanding, genuineness, and being non-judgemental in learning situations.
Carl Roger’s proposition was that the teacher (or, in this case, mentor) facilitates student-centred learning – this was supported by Knowles et al (1994) – as opposed to dictating the teaching. With this in mind, the first step in developing a relationship with the learner was to organise time, away from colleagues, during which she could have the opportunity to speak about her past experiences as a student and her expectations of learning on this placement.
During the initial conversation the author encouraged the learner, Laura (name changed to protect confidentiality, as defined by NMC ((2010)) to speak about her previous experiences of being mentored. She spoke of having had disparate experiences in her past placements. She defined her positive experiences during one placement as being welcomed as part of the team, being shown respect, and being given the right level of responsibility and supervision. Conversely, Laura had also had one particularly bad experience of being mentored. She described this experience as being shown little interest, having all her ideas rejected as invalid, receiving limited support to carry out tasks, and being subject to some very out-dated professional views held by her mentor. Heirs and Farrell (1986) and Darling (1984) both identified negative features of some mentors, which included being unavailable, self interested, and not providing enough support for learners to carry out new skills. It is clear that good mentors ought to guard against such prohibitive practice. Laura’s past experience also underscored the pivotal role mentors have in the development of learners.
At the conclusion of this first discussion, the author and the learner discussed setting up a learning contract. There was conversational emphasis on the need for the learner to formulate and lead this process. Knowles (1975) outlined three immediate reasons for...
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