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First time: how to bond with your placement mentor

Feeling a bit daunted by the prospect of your first placement? Third year student, Iain Walker, offers his tips for nurturing a good relationship with your placement mentor.

Meeting your mentor for the first time can be a very daunting experience, hopefully these 5 tips will put you on the path to success and let you bond and impress your mentor.

  1. Be Punctual. It’s not cool to be fashionably late to placement, try to arrive at least 10-15 minutes early before your shift to allow time to get changed into uniform and to prepare for the handover.  Your mentor will think this is very professional and respect you making the effort.
  2. Ask questions. Your mentor is your living Google; ask if you don’t know, they will respect you more. Don’t pretend you know something if you don’t, you won’t be a laughing stock, you’ll just come across as someone who wants to learn. No mentor wants a student who does not talk.
  3. Be pro active. Offer your skills, don’t wait to be asked to do things. Every day ask what’s expected of you on shift. I always carry a little pocket book on shift with me, and I jot down anything I want to read up on or that I’m asked to do. This is also good for building on your time management skills.
  4. Show interest. My current mentor said there is nothing worse than a student that looks bored while on placement. Even if you are somewhere you may think sounds boring, there will always be something interesting for you to experience. You could ask to go with patients to X-ray or MRI and your mentor should accommodate this. Your mentor will respect you more if you go into the placement with goals and interests. Do some research on the place that you’re going, and explain on your fist day what you’re most interested in. If a patient comes to your ward for example with a head injury, and you ask to go to their MRI and X-ray, this will not only aid your learning experience but your mentor will be impressed with your level of interest and enthusiasm.
  5. Say thankyou. Remember, your mentor is only human, she/he was in your shoes once. Make sure you thank them for the experience they have given you. Remember, three years is not a long time, they could be interviewing you for a post in soon, so be nice.
  6. Get to know your patients. You are not staff on the ward and you should have the time to introduce yourself to the patients and make a good impression.  Your mentor will think highly of you if you are able to build a good working relationship with those around you.

Good luck!

Iain Walker is a third year student learning disability nurse studying at Glasgow Caledonian University.

Readers' comments (11)

  • Great advice

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  • Thanks for the advice.

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  • As a mentor, can I just add that learning is a 2 way process, and we have just as much to learn from you! For example, I now have excellent word processing skills thanks to a recent student I had- We enjoy having you and hope you enjoy being with us!

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  • Ahmed ABDUSSALAM

    This advice is timely, because I am thinking of preparing a similar thing for my year two colleaque who are going for placement soon.

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  • Thanks for the advice.

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  • Michael Whitehead

    Never feel that you're harrassing your mentor with questions, most often than not they enjoy sharing their widsom with you. That's a piece of advice I give a lot as many students feel this way.

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  • I am 4 weeks into my course and everything seems daunting at this stage, so it is always great to read such positive articles, thank you

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  • be open and friendly and try and build a good and mutually trusting working relationship. it should be a two way communication. if you experience difficulties and are not getting the service you need explain why and if this cannot be put right between you you need to discuss it higher up the managerial ladder to try and resolve any difficulties. don't let problems fester and get out of control.

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  • Im a first yr in the middle of first placement. My mentor now calls me "choochy" when I ask her something, we have got that close! I appreciate her and her knowledge, superb communication skills and the outright excellent way she does her job. She appreciates my enthusiasm, my determination to be a fantastic nurse and the way I will NOT be rushed when communicating with a frightened patient! Its a mutual respect, She doesn't demand I bow down to her band six status and I would respect her anyway, not for her banding but because she is a fantastic nurse.

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  • I do appreciate good mentors and keep your up with the good job you do help students get through their course.I am a first year student on placementand blessed with a fantastic mentor.My colleague has a mentor from hell who shouts at her almost all the time even in front of patients / other students/her colleague.Where is professionalism in this case? I wonder what mentor training she's had! Is this a mentor from hell ? !!!

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  • I'm a second year student and my mentor shows great enthusiasm but sometimes it's as if she doesn't have time for my own opinion etc ... Or anyone else's for that matter. Best hing to do is try and take her positives from the placement rather than the negatives even if it is hard! It will all pay off in the long run.

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