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An evaluation of nurses' experiences of mentoring pre-registration students

12 March 2020
Volume 29 · Issue 5


Nurse education in the UK has undergone a radical change over the past 30 years. The integration of nursing students within practice has evolved from an apprenticeship style to bespoke mentoring support. To act as mentors, registered nurses must have met stage 2 outcomes of the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) Standards to Support Learning and Assessment in Practice, which clearly stipulate that mentors should have a reduced clinical commitment when supporting students, with one hour per week being protected, in addition to the 40% of time through direct or indirect supervision with their mentor/sign off mentor when facilitating a student on their final 12-week experience. However, this does not seem to be the case in reality. A qualitative study comprising six semi-structured interviews was undertaken across one health and social care trust. Data were analysed using Braun and Clarke's thematic analysis. A number of themes and subthemes were identified: engagement (barriers versus strategies), support (inclusivity versus exclusivity), and lack of recognition (strategic versus organisational). Due to the expected changes of supervising and assessing nursing students in practice, it is imperative that an innovative, collaborative and engaged approach is facilitated from all key stakeholders to ensure the sustainability of supporting and assessing students by registered nurses and the safeguarding of the public within clinical practice.

To develop expertise, the World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended that the nursing profession improves support structures for post-registration programmes and, crucially, for students on pre-registration education programmes (WHO 2002a). Mentors are expected to undertake robust mentorship programmes in preparation for the mentoring role and to deliver multifaceted training, teaching, assessment and support of pre-registration nursing students while on clinical placements (Wilson, 2014). Although research is available that seeks to clarify expectation, many mentors state they are overwhelmed in practice by the responsibility of mentoring alongside their clinical work (Veeramah, 2012; Jokelainen et al, 2013; Wilson, 2014).

The Duffy report (2003) highlighted mentors' concerns about how they are facilitated to support students in practice, stating that mentors were finding it increasingly difficult to fulfil their role, leading to professional and organisational conflicts (Bray and Nettleton, 2007; Elcock and Sookhoo, 2007; Mead et al, 2011; Royal College of Nursing (RCN), 2012; Sandford, 2012; Veeramah, 2012).

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