Clinical placements for nursing students, is often regarded as the most useful aspect of the nursing course with experienced and supportive nurses to help them develop their practical nursing skills promoting professional awareness and growth (Cope et al 2000).
This assignment will explore the role of the mentor and effect of the role models have on the mentor student relationship. It will also examine the learning environment and its influence upon the way in which students learn. It will critically analyse and reflect on my performance as mentor and assessor incorporating evidence of Knowledge and application of the theories to practice. Concluding with, summarising the main point of the assignment and application to the future practice.
Reflection is the process of learning through experience gaining new insights, assisting with changes in perceptions and developing oneself and future practice (Boyd and Fales 1983). I will be using Gibbs model of reflection (1988) please (appendix1) to structure this assignment. It consists of six sequential steps discussing the experience, examining thoughts and feeling, evaluating and analysing the experience, drawing upon conclusions for future practice.
My experience of mentoring and assessing nursing students took place in demanding clinical area, which provides high dependency and critical care to children. It offers the student the opportunity to develop technical clinical skill with in a challenging nursing environment.
The English National and Department of health (2001b) define mentorship as ‘…the role of the nurse who facilitates learning and supervises and assess students in the practical setting’. As a mentor I have a duty and responsibility to ensure this is provided through the use of my professional judgement as I am accountable for the action of students and the decisions I make for ensuring the protection of the public (Nursing Midwifery council 2006).
To be able to perform the mentorship role it is important to examine and evaluate what skills constitute a good mentor. In reviewing the literature a study conducted by Kilcullen (2007) looked the role of a good mentors played a major role n enhancing learning through support, acting as role model and helping to become socialised within the clinical area.
A role model is to provide the student with an image in which they inspire them self to imitate (Morton, Cooper and Palmer 2000). The student’s clinical experience can depend upon whether they receive a mentor who is good role model, a skilled nurse who is able to give explanation and rational for their practice or a poor role model who lacks in Knowledge and structure in practice (Pellatt 2006). Students become astute to the importance of choosing a good role model to develop their confidence, knowledge and skills (Gray & smith).
Through one-on-one relationship with a paired, this can be model effective use of the technology and skills for better instruction to students (Smith, 2000). Mentoring approach was that veteran teachers/nurses support novice teachers/nurses; research has shown that even student nurses can serve as mentors for their preceptors (Kariuki, et all 2001; Smith, 2000; Stewart.1999).
The basis of students experience is spent working alongside their mentor observing every aspect of my practice. At first I found this was a little daunting, I felt like I was being assessed by the student. Although it enabled me to empathise with the student as they are also under continuous assessment. These feelings helped me to recognise the anxieties for both the mentor and student in establishing a new working relationship. Is has helped me develop self awareness in the importance of proving a supportive and good role model for student. Through positive interactions and the development of effective relationships and by providing and maintaining standards of good practice through keeping up to date to create a learning environment which is evidence based. (Nursing and Midwifery Council 2004a).
The beginning the effective mentor student relationship was established at the introductory meeting where I was able to be friendly, and welcoming, making the student feels comfortable in the clinical environment. Wallace (2003) suggests this is crucial in aiding the students learning by reducing anxiety and enhancing the students comfort level. When the initial interview is less than satisfactory and the relationship is lacking student feel undervalued manifesting itself in the student becoming unable to gain access to professional practical knowledge (Spouse 2003).
A good relationship provides for a conductive learning environment that involves listening to the student and valuing their opinions even if they differ from that of your own (Thomson 2006). In practice I encouraged the student to ask questions to clarify misconceptions and express their learning through sharing in knowledge with the reassurance that they will not be put down if they are wrong (Wallace 2003). Treating students with warmth and respect builds confidence avoiding any type of discrimination that may impact on the student regretting choosing nursing as a career (Walters 2005).
The making a difference paper (The Department of Health 1999) highlighted huge variation in the clinical experience for the students called for improvements it involved working with senior nurses to co ordinate and improve the quality of the clinical experience for students. One of the ways the clinical learning environment in which I work provides for this is a clinical development team with office based senior nurse who work in partnership with the mentor to organise and structure the experience of the students thus meeting the recommendations of this publication.
It offer structure and sport for students in identifying learning outcomes and experience with resources available such as internet access and a learning zone with relevant best practice to assist students to apply the knowledge to practice .These provision provide for the student to develop the competence they require to deliver quality care through a structured learning experience as much learning experience as much learning can be lost if the students are not given structure, time or guidance(Pollard 1998).
The clinical environment provides for a good learning experience. Although without incorporating reflection it will be quickly forgotten. It is my responsibility as a mentor to encourage experimental learning through reflective practice and that of the students apply it .The student is able to make link between the theory and planning an aspect of care, carrying it out and reflecting on it, relating the outcome back to the theory as prescribed by Kolb’s learning theory (Kolb 1984).
The clinical environment however can become quite hectic and this time constraint can limit my role as mentor (Hopkins 2000).It has not always allowed for the students to receive feedback immediately after a learning experience .feedback aids their reflection and is incorporated within their assessment of performance.
In reflecting upon this I felt this was a negative experience for me as a mentor .This is important to the student therefore I felt I had let them down. Although price (2007) sates there can be limitation to what mentor can achieve in continuous assessment and feedback in complex clinical setting and the mentor is require to accumulate information about the student’s progress through out their placement. As I identified this early on whilst mentoring my student, I have also utilised the observations and assessments of my colleagues to provide a team approach in reviewing my student’s performance. The student is able to develop and modify aspects of their learning objectives to fulfil their learning needs (Gray&smith 2000)
The experience introduced me to the challenges which the mentor faces in managing the dual responsibility of the patient care and the student teaching (Bennett2003)
I found the process of establishing effective relationship to be one of my strengths’ believe I was able to make good first impression through being prepared and demonstrating a friendly, approachable and patient attitude in which Andrew and Willis(1999) suggest are the required characteristics necessary to perform the mentor role .
I believe I was able to motive students through being positive and providing a warm and accepting learning environment and offering praise and encouragement to build upon confidence and self esteem (Waters 2005). I am also aware of the factor that can be diminishing motivation such as the difficulty in maintaining the right work life balance. I have offered support through checking out the student is coping with their workload and any other considerations of their social needs order to motivate and become successful learners (Brooker &Waugh 2007).
In taking account for the students learning style I was able facilitate a learning experience involving offering guidance for my student whom had difficulty in organisation skill, in remembering what care to prioritise it. When approaching this issue with my student it required sensitivity and tact. Through discussion it became apparent that it was not the lack of organisation skills it was the students learning style that did not fit with my teaching style. My students is more of a reflector who prefers to stand back, reflect and observe needing time to plan activities, which differed from that of my own an activist who best learns learning style it provided more time for the implementation of care. My student was able to devise a ‘to do list, which helped to plan the care that was to be provided.
I am more aware of learning styles and how recognising which one best suits the student which can improve their learning and much more quickly when the teaching methods match their preferred style (Chapelhow et al 2005).
In conclusion this assignment demonstrates my knowledge and understanding of the qualities involved in being a good mentor and role model. It evaluates the importance of a conductive learning environment and how I can provide this within my clinical area enhancing the positives and facilitate this in my practice. It looks at establishing an effective mentor-student relationship and how initiating this process will help student feel valued and comfortable. It reflects upon the challenges I incurred as a mentor. It looks at my performance and what I felt I done well. In demonstrating evidence of knowledge and application of theories I was able to adapt to my students learning style facilitating learning.
Mentorship is an integral part of nursing an important role in which as a staff nurse of eighteen years experience I have pursued to develop further within the nursing profession. Through this module and the completion of practical assessment it has prepared me for the mentor and assessor role and its application to practice .I have become accustom to the formal practical assessment document that student have to achieve whilst on placement, having completed it myself. This allow for me to experience the assessment progress, understanding what is required in term of learning outcomes and gaining insight from the student prospective .Through reflection, experience and understanding my role and responsibilities I feel prepared to assess student’s competency and performance and my own accountability in passing or failing of students in accordance with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (2006) standards.