Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Nurse mentoring needs 'renewed focus'


One of country’s most senior nurses has called for a “renewed focus” on the role of mentors and the mentoring process.

Janice Sigsworth, director of nursing at Imperial College Healthcare, the largest NHS trust in England, said the results of Nursing Times’ survey were “concerning” and suggested some “undesirable” practice.

Ms Sigsworth said she was not aware of problems at her own trust but said the survey results, based on responses from nearly 2,000 nurse mentors, showed the area would “benefit from a renewed focus”.

She told Nursing Times:  “It’s very difficult to fail a student because someone might want a career in nursing and that could be terminated if they are failed. It needs support from the senior nursing team to show it’s the right decision.”

Commenting on the survey finding that 37 per cent of mentors had passed students they believe were either poor or should not pass at all, Ms Sigsworth said at Imperial, mentors were told to think of students as potential future colleagues. “So by passing students, mentors are potentially passing a future colleague and member of staff,” she said.

A spokesperson for the Nursing and Midwifery Council, which issued guidance on mentoring in July 2008, told Nursing Times the guidance would be reviewed later this year.


Readers' comments (13)

  • Why on earth would 'a staff nurse' give a monkeys about mentoring students? Bad nursing practice is overlooked and swept under the carpet everyday on the wards - why not extend that courtesy to those entering the profession?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • "It needs support from the senior nursing team"

    Just to add to my above comment I want to ask Janice if they have a comprehensive mentorship policy running at Imperial? All nurses and HCA's have regular mentorship and twice yearly formal IPR? I know of no other profession which works under the constant emotional stress of enabling the healing and caring for the public where no mandatory mentorship arrangements exist. Because if you don't invest this basic courtesy to your own staff then don't be surprised if they tick the boxes and send the incompetent on their way.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • The bigger problem if you have incompetent nurses who in turn become mentors obviously they are going to pass the incompetent student. Then the good nurses/competent nurses are seen as difficult when they insist on doing things the right way

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • This was actually my point - how do we know if any nurses are competent since mentor-ship / clinical supervision whatever you want to call it is practically non-existent.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Totally in agreement with above comments,when you confront someone about bad practice,they say you are picking on them.Was once told by my manager not to say anything to a particular hca who was constantly lifting patients into bed without using a hoist,unless it was '' life threatening''.Makes one wonder,and I think being too 'familliar' with students makes it harder for some mentors to do thier jobs properly.Bring back the good old mentors who were not tolerating poor standard of nursing and didn't care about being politically correct.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I qualified as a nurse last year and what I find difficult working in practice is that in university you are taught to work in this ideal world with correct staffing levels and having all the time in the world, but everything changes when you are in practice. Yes when you are a student you are supernumerary, so you have the time to spend with clients talking with them to discuss there care etc. When you are employed, it is extremely difficult to practice as you were taught in university, as you come up against so much as I mentioned just a few before. I believe that when a student is present working within a placement area that the mentor should be given extra shifts with the mentor being supernumerary in order for the student to learn more skills and actually learning to practice under pressure. I also believe that it is harder to fail a student because then the university gets involved and following that the student passes anyway the majority of the time. In order to justify students becoming a competent practitioner, there needs to be a big overhaul of how student nurses are passed. I suggest that more needs to be done to actually make nurse training harder.

    I propose as well that there is more integration of the four areas of nursing, yes it is better to specialise and in your choosen area, but how many people actually just suffer with mental health, there is normally a physical illness that they suffer as well. Or for example a client who has a stroke, who is in a nursing home are they going to become depressed and would a nurse who is a RGN qualified to deal with a client who is starting to isolate herself, loosing interest in hobbies etc. There needs to be more integration within the different areas of nursing, another example includes how many children are actually suffering with their Mental Health, are children covered within mental health pre reg training to the degree that is needed??

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I Think Anonymous 29/April 8:58 that you should be penning Ms Sigsworth a letter. You have summed it up very well. Often these senior nurses have a host of other duties too. If their time was safeguarded it must surely produce more competent members of newly and already qualified members of staff- plus give them greater job satisfaction. It would be a lie for anyone to amit that standards slip when you are short staffed and you are only able to give the basics to the most. The quality of care needs to be readdressed.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I could not agree more. Time to mentor, coach, teach and exemplar good practice ought to be factored into senior nursing roles instead of being an add on. This goes as much for Ms Sigsworths Trust as any other having had experience of a friend's care there recently. The HCAs we encountered were good but also seemed to be responsible for much of the mentoring of students-an RN was rarely seen. I am sure this Trust is not alone in that.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • as i have said before there is a massive problem with mentors NOT WORKING with you how are you suposed to become completly competent when they have not got time for you and as for the senior nurses failing them most of my mentors have been sisters and they do not work with you either they take feedback from HCAs and staff nurses i have been used as an extra pair of hands threw a lot of my training i am not training to be a HCA (no disrepect to HCA ) As above i have had to shadow HCA for most of my training which is not there role and when you complain to the Practice Placement Managers there is a blame culture going on you are the student therefpre its your fault shut up and carry on this attitude is not getting students there training. students are being ignored and more so the government and the tax payer are paying for us to train to be good competent nurses. it has to come from the top it needs to be recognised students are being left much to their own devices and not being fully trained this could put patients at risk instead of being quick to condem and fail students why dont you support them and train them which would be more benficial to the student and the NHS when these nurses qualify.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Don't want to be controversial but I felt the same after 3 years of nurse training. Mentors on the whole knew very little, were not great role models - I had no idea what nursing was, except all of the grubbier stuff, plus all the stuff that get's left to be done with no training at the weekends because the sensible professions work 9-5 monday to friday. After almost ten years of being qualified little has changed in my view. Nurse education - despite the claims of the university equips you to be, wait for it 'a doctors handmaiden'. I often wondered why so little substance? It's because essentially when it comes down to the facts, nurses are skivvies. And you don't need a degree to do that. SO, my young neophytes learn all you can from the HCA's because this is the reality of the job.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Show 1020results per page

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.