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Concerns over NMC plans to change student assessment and mentor training

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Mental health nursing professors have raised concerns about plans by the Nursing and Midwifery Council to no longer require mentors to train on an approved course, claiming student learning could be negatively affected.

Responding to the regulator’s consultation on its overhaul of education standards, the nursing academics also said they did not agree with the plan to allow a registered nurse from any field of nursing to assess and sign off a student’s learning.

“Practice and academic assessors coming from outside the field might undermine students’ capabilities in relation to mental health”

MHNAUK response to NMC education consultation

The Mental Health Nurse Academics UK group said that any assessment of a student in practice should be carried out by a registrant with the relevant expertise.

However, the group said it did agree with the NMC’s proposal for student nurses to be allowed to by supervised by other healthcare professionals.

“MHNAUK welcomed the opportunity for some practice supervisors to come from outside nursing and this may provide some extended placement opportunities for students in the field of mental health, for example in the voluntary sector,” said the group in its consultation response.

“However, this has potential to be open to abuse, as practice and academic assessors coming from outside the field might undermine students’ capabilities in relation to mental health,” it added.

As part of a number of education proposals the NMC wants to change the way mentoring works by splitting the role into supervisors and assessors.

“Training for supervisors and assessors should have some quality assurance mechanism”

MHNAUK response to NMC education consultation

Assessors will either be “a nominated practice assessor” or a “nominated academic assessor”, who will be required to be a registered nurse or midwife.

However, the NMC does not intend to set proficiencies for these two new roles, and supervisors and assessors would not be required to complete an NMC-approved course – as is currently the case for mentors.

The MHNAUK group said it was concerned the change would mean the quality of assessment was affected.

It suggested the NMC introduce a more “light-touch” approach than it has now to training assessors, based on some national standards.

“We’ll look at all the feedback and take this into consideration as we finalise the standards of proficiency and education framework”

NMC spokesman

“Training for supervisors and assessors should have some quality assurance mechanisms and there has been some suggestion that there could be some further ‘light-touch’ guidelines from the NMC in this area and/or benchmarking of minimum standards,” said the nursing academics in their response to the consultation.

The MHNAUK group’s comments echo those recently made by the Royal College of Nursing which said while it also agreed with splitting the role of mentors into supervisors and assessors, it had concerns about the support and training that would be provided for them.

A spokesman for the Nursing and Midwifery Council said it would take all views into consideration as it analysed responses to the consultation, which closed last month.

“We’ve had a fantastic response to our consultation, with thousands of people sharing their views. We’ll look at all the feedback and take this into consideration as we finalise the standards of proficiency and education framework,” he said.

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