The following assignment will critically analyse the mentor’s role in facilitating learning within the practice setting. It is of importance to define the following terms: mentor’s role, facilitating learning, accountability, and supporting students who are failing in practice setting. The importance of establishing effective working relationships, an analysis of the learners’ needs, promote effective assessment and the evaluation of learning will be analysed. Finally, the conclusion will be drawn from the analysis of this assignment.
A mentor is a clinical practitioner who supports, guides, supervises and facilitates student learning during a clinical practice Stuart (2007). Mentors are seen as a fundamental influence to students in a learning environment where students utilise their theoretical knowledge in to practical, learn key skills and achieve the required competence for registration. Ali et al (2008) also states that mentoring is an important that every nurse has to assume, formally or informally, sooner or later. Historically the concept of mentor dates back from the Greek mythology. Mentor was a friend of Odysseus who left his wife Penelope and son Telemachus, whilst he went to war. Odysseus asked his friend to guide and support his son therefore being his mentor (Pellat, 2006). The author agrees with the above authors as she is an experienced nurse who guides junior nurses, through reflection and feedback in their duty of care.
Nursing and midwifery council [NMC] (2008) recommends that prior to the commencement of placement, mentors are to ensure that all students are allocated a mentor one week before to let the student and mentor prepare for the experience. A mentor does not only advise and guide students, but he or she is a role model to junior nurses. According to Morton and Palmer (2002) cited in Ali et al (2008) by being a role model , the mentor provides an observable image of imitation, demonstrating skills and qualities for the student to emulate. NMC (2006) notes that the role of a mentor in a clinical setting is fundamentally focused on the NMC competencies. Chandan and Watts (2012) noted “that mentor’s role goes beyond teaching knowledge and skills as they alleviate anxieties and supports students with acceptance and socialisation into both the higher education and clinical contexts”.
Mentors establish effective working relationship by demonstrating their competence in building adequate skills to support learning for students who will becoming part of the team within the clinical settings. The key role of a mentor is to a help the student integrate into their designated practice setting. Royal College of Nursing [RCN] (2007) suggests that the relationship between a student and a mentor can be achieved by welcoming, orientating inducting and integrating the student into the multi-disciplinary team within the first 24 hours of entering learning environment. Learning can be facilitated by a positive relationship between mentors and students. This can create a mutual relationship built on understanding and empathy facilitating students to maximise their potentials within the clinical setting (Zellers et al, 2008). This relationship between student and mentor can be enhanced by working 40% of direct and indirectly of their time and also alongside the mentors shift pattern.
A mentor supervises the students assigned to her within a practice setting. Taylor cited in Stuart and Sundeen (1997) define supervision as an intensive interpersonally focused, one to one relationship in which one person is designated to facilitate the development of therapeutic competence in the other person. However, Ironbar and Hooper (1989) suggested that the supervisor should be someone with extensive clinical experience and training, who can provide expert support and guidance with well-planned learning opportunities, the provision of support and coaching for students in order to facilitate learning According to Johansson et al, (2010) the relationship between the student and mentor is the most factor contributing to clinical learning experience. Students attain direct knowledge and skills resulting in becoming aware of their roles. Willis report (2012) mentions that “Effective understanding of collaboration and inter-professional working is a key component of pre- registration nursing education”.
A well collaborated learning contract can enable the mentor to facilitate learning with a clinical setting. According to (Worrall, 2007) an effective orientation to a clinical placement can help the student to feel relaxed and encourages motivation for learning through early identification of learning objectives. To have the opportunity of being a member of the multi-professional team, the mentor must ensure that the student is fully integrated into the team and working alongside professionals so that he or she can gradually become competent in most clinical of skills. Learning within a clinical setting can be facilitated through the use of a variety of approaches by mentors and staff who have the right skills. Mentors facilitate learning to students by applying reflective learning as a learning technique that reinforces the mixing of theoretical and realistic learning into practice. According to (Pritchard and Gidman, 2012; Carr, Heggarty and Carr, 2010) “Reflective learning is an effective tool in supporting mentorship, allowing students the opportunity to reflect on past experiences and to learn from them before moving forward”. (Pritchard and Gidman, 2012) elaborated further that by adopting new teaching approaches, mentors can address students past experiences enabling the students to have some confidence to reflect on what they have learning outcomes.
NMC standards support learning and assessment (2008) outlined certain principles to be achieved in order to become a mentor. Mentors’ should be able to create an environment that can facilitate learning by supporting students, encouraging learning activities, off ward learning experiences, assessments, supervision, professional vision and applying evidence based practice within the clinical settings. It is a requirement that all registered nurses are to convey professional knowledge and competence to student nurses by regularly taking part in the learning and development of students through teaching, activities, supervision and assessments NMC (2010). NMC (2008) requirements recommends day to day support for the students’ by their allocated mentors in order to enable student learning experiences and assess practice learning outcomes. This can create a conducive learning environment within a clinical setting by teaching or providing learning opportunities for students and colleagues through planning, reflective practice and evaluating learning activities.
Mentorsare influential in helping the student reach theiraims and objectives. They carry out assessments to ascertain the student’s level of theoretical knowledge, practical clinical skills and also taking into account the learners previous experiences can aide mentors to facilitate learning. Sharing knowledge and experience with students assist the mentor to identify the student’s individual learning style Ali et al (2008). Therefore a mentor can facilitate a student’s learning by keeping his or her knowledge and skills up to date by researching into current trends and annual mentorship update. The role of a mentor is to ensure that there is readily available of learning resources, precise learning opportunities and a plan on how the student can achieve the planned learning objectives. Mentors must possess qualities such as a being an educator, good effective communication skills, acting as an advocate and good leadership qualities to institute an effective working environment for student nurses. However this can develop students’ in understand what is expected of them in the near future.
Accountability is part of the mentors’ role in facilitating learning in a clinical setting through professional judgments on students’ performance. Mentors are accountable for confirming students who have met their NMC competencies in practice. Learning can be facilitated through appropriate support and supervision in carrying out summative assessment of the student‘s competence when carrying out clinical skills during teaching sessions. Mentors are accountable for every decision and action they make on the care provided by students (NMC 2010). They have the duty to facilitate learning and support failing students by giving constructive feedback and effective teaching sessions. However Duffy (2004) recommends mentors to fail students who are not able to meet the required level of practice because it is the mentor’s responsibility to make the final assessment and to be aware that they are accountable for passing or failing the student NMC, (2006). Keeping sufficient and evidence based records can help mentors to support their decisions.
Rodgers (1969) defines facilitation as a style of teaching that assist mentors in understanding students’ effective style of learning that includes student focused learning, none commanded, self-directed reflective whilst involving them in the learning process. Mentors are regarded as effective facilitators in both skills and art because they engage everyone in the learning experience. By acting as an advocate, mentors can facilitate student growth and development resulting in students being able to solve problems simultaneously. Within the clinical setting mentors’ critical reflection as a method for teaching and learning can create an even pathway for the students to pursue their learning journey. According to the NMC code of practice (2008b, p: 5) have the duty to share their knowledge and skills to facilitate students’ and their colleagues development by teaching new skills for example depot injection techniques and completing risk assessment documents. Mentors can facilitate learning by using physical resources such as teaching aids to enhance learning for students and colleagues within their clinical settings.
It is essential for the mentor to facilitate learning to students by encouraging them to attend on and off ward learning activities for example, meetings, practice sessions, student forums and other health departments in order to acquire expertise clinical skills and knowledge and for further development. Mentors must ensure that there is a vast range of potential learning opportunities available to learners in order to facilitate learning and meeting specific students’ learning needs. At the same time the mentor needs to be mindful of the quality of the learning experience and consider how they can further develop the learning environment to enhance the students’s experience. The role of a mentor within a clinical setting is to develop the student clinical skills through teaching and explaining the clinical procedures and to provide the appropriate knowledge base for nursing interventions.
Learning can be facilitated by equipping the clinical setting with all useful and adequate resources for carrying out the teaching sessions. Mentors can also obtain new knowledge and skills through their guidance and support of students (Klasen, 2002). Their contribution to a supportive learning environment and quality learning outcomes for students can be brought about by being approachable, supportive and being aware of the student’s style of learning. Mentors plays a significant role in the assessment of student’s level of capability assesses your level of capability student gains the optimum experience from the clinical learning environment. It is also important when embarking on the mentorship course and in house training for other qualified staff to assist students translate theory into practice. Mentors needs additional skills through structured learning activities and teaching sessions to utilise in an environment settings designed for this purpose, Gopee (2011). Quinn (2000) commented that mentors can enhance students’ skills performance and development in a methodical and acute way by providing the students with feedback and reinforcement.
Communication is the most important tool that a mentor can utilise to facilitate learning for students within a clinical setting. As a skilled communicator a mentor needs to establish additional communication skills for the management of students’ complex issues arising within the clinical setting. Components of communication are essential in a clinical setting because mentors are able to exchange information and establish an effective working relationship. Ali and Panther (2008) commented that mentors should use effective communication and facilitation of skills to develop a personal and professional relationship with the students allocated to them. Learning can be facilitated by carrying out the initial, intermediate and final interviews thus allowing the mentor to find out about the student’s previous learning experiences, identifying the individual’s strengths and weaknesses and their level of participation, Doel and Shardlow (2005). Interaction between students and Mentors enables more flexible and individualised learning process using a one to one effective approach within a structured learning environment (Warren, 2010). Enhancing learning through assessment can assist the mentor’s ability to research and prepare an appropriate environment, which is conducive with learning, teaching and assessment.
The provision of teaching and learning activities facilitate learning within a clinical setting as it enables the students to achieve the intended outcomes during their placement by relating theory to practice while developing critically reflective skills in order to facilitate learning NMC (2008). Mentors can facilitate learning by providing inter-professional learning opportunities for example integrated skills teaching model. By utilising the Kolb’s (1984) learning cycle mentors can integrate of theory into practice and the art of and science of nursing by using the four stages of learning namely Activist, Reflector, Theorist and Pragmatist. Mentors can facilitate student leaning by having a well-structured teaching session that includes style and space, providing feedback and identifying future learning needs. Learning styles promotes better student integration into clinical settings. Frankel, (2009) states that nurses learning styles promote better integration of theory into practice. The ability to critically analyse and evaluate the strengths and limitations of learning, teaching and assessment within their practice area is one of the mentors’ roles. However, through the knowledge the mentor possesses they can develop and present innovative approaches to enhance students’ learning. By carrying out student assessment a mentor can facilitate learning to a student by observing the student during a teaching session where by the mentor is bale to know the student’s learning style for example visual, auditory and kinaesthetic learning.