Mentoring has been established in a variety of fields for many years. Within nursing, the term ‘mentor’ denotes “A nurse, midwife or specialist community public health nurse who facilitates learning and supervises and assesses students in a practice setting”, (Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) 2005). The essay will explore the role of the mentor in the field of nursing, with personal reflection on the authors experience as a mentor in my current role as a community mental health nurse (CMHN). The mentor-mentee learning relationship will be explored and the application of teaching and learning strategies will be examined.
The essay will also discuss the responsibility of the mentor in relation to self, others and the professional agenda and will analyse current assessment procedures for nursing students. Following a student journey, the essay will consider how the mentorship process can be improved in the clinical practice environment.
In recent years, the National Health Service has undergone huge modernisation and consequently, the preparation of nurses for the future has changed to reflect its new principles. The change in organisational and educational philosophies in teaching nursing has lead to a search for effective strategies that are directed towards making the most of human potential and learning in practice. The clinical experience of nursing students is widely acknowledged as being one of the most important aspects of their educational preparations (English National Board (ENB) & Department Of Health (DOH) 2001a). It is during practice placements that the student learns how to take care of patients, colleagues and others that they work and interact with and it is this practical learning that ensures they are fit for practice and purpose.
Within the placement area, we accommodate nursing students from the University of Central Lancashire who follow pre-registration curricula, working towards either a Diploma in Higher Education in Nursing or a BSc (Hons) in Nursing. The students all complete a common foundation programme for twelve months and then spend a further two years focusing on either the adult, mental health or child branch of nursing. Within this framework, the total theory and practice time is equal, with the student completing a minimum of 2300 hours in each. It is anticipated that the mentor in the clinical area bridges the gap between theory and practice. In order to work as a mentor, formal preparation is required at a minimum of academic level 3 during which the individual is prepared in accordance with the advisory standards for mentors, as dictated by United Kingdom Central Council (UKCC) 2000, now known as the NMC. Completion of this preparation is recordable on the NMC register.
Within nursing, mentoring is considered to be part of the nurse’s role. The NMC’s Code of Professional Conduct dictates that nurses on the professional register “Have a duty to facilitate students to develop their competence” (NMC 2004 section 6.4). Evidence in literature clearly advocates that mentors should be willing participants in the process, however research and the authors’ personal experience indicates that individuals are often assigned the mentor role, regardless of their experience and abilities (Chambers and Wall 2000). It is important that individuals ponder on whether they are able and qualified to take on the role and question whether they have the personal qualities to fulfil the responsibility. Chambers and Wall (2000) suggest that these qualities include enthusiasm, honesty and trustworthiness, patience, openness and approachability, knowledge and experience, respectability, empathy. The mentor should also be able to demonstrate a non-judgemental attitude, have good interpersonal skills, be encouraging and have good contacts (Chambers and Wall 2000).
Nursing theorists also highlight the importance of individual selection within the mentorship process and...
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