This essay will critically analyse the management of learner whose standard of practice is of cause for concern. It will consider the implications of ‘failing to fail’ learners who are not achieving professional values in practice. It will also include the analysis of how should the learner be managed and what is the responsibility of the mentor.
Gopee (2011) defines the definition of a mentor which was provided by The Nursing and Midwifery Council (2008) in its standards: the mentor is a “registrant who…facilitates learning, and supervises and assesses students in practice settings”. To do this NMC has set clear guidelines for continuous training, education and professional development in the clinical environment and requires this must be upheld at all times. Aston and Hallam (2011) state that there is a lack of agreement over what the role of a mentor is because there are many terms used to describe a mentor such as, supervisor, mentor, preceptor, coordinator, facilitator and assessor.
According to Schober and Ash (2006) successful mentoring, should be goal orientated and focus on the learner’s skills, knowledge and attitude for development. In preparation, the learner needs to have a development plan before meeting with the mentor. Schober and Ash continue that learners do best by observing and being assessed. The role of the mentor involves familiarising the learner to the clinical environment, overseeing teaching and learning opportunities, observing the learners performance liaising with the link and personal tutors when necessary and review the progress of the learner, keep accountability and act as a professional role model. The NMC (2008) requires all trained nurses to facilitate teaching of students as part of their professional role and failure to uphold this standard may compromise not only the clinician but also colleagues and the nursing profession as a whole (Stuart, 2007). Mentoring is used as learning experience for all nurses (Aston and Hallam, 2011) and requires them to be capable to teach and train students to achieve lifelong learning skills, acknowledging that the healthcare system has a continuously changing nature and is a career that needs continuing professional development. In the same time, a mentor should be able to provide to the patient a safe and high quality care while supporting student’s learning (Cassidy, 2009).
According to Wilkes (2006) the role of the mentor in practice placements is important and it is essential to establish an effective relationship. However, a friendship enhances student’s achievement but it might not be the right relationship because the mentor’s assessment can be subjective, not showing the student’s true competency. Alternatively, a negative experience can have unfavourable effects on both of them, affecting mentor’s performances and his/her further mentoring and student’s learning experience who can suffer from a non-effective mentoring. However, the mentor – student relationship needs to be constant, for example, seeking and giving help, the mentor being described as a trusted adviser. This concept is based on the theory of facilitative learning developed by Rogers cited in Laird (1985), where he believed that learning will happen by the teacher acting as a facilitator, establishing a comfortable atmosphere enabling students to learn stress free.
In regards to establishing a successful mentor-student relationship, in her article, Beskine (2009) stated that “it is the mentor’s responsibility to establish an effective relationship with the student”. The first step would be the student’s orientation to the placement and setting’s ground rules. Orientation should be a planned event because it has an important role in creating a positive start to a placement, influencing the quality of the placement, the student’s experience and the student’s process of learning. However, within the clinical practice students can have traumatic placement...
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