Brian’s article in NT about giving up mentorship caused a stir among readers. Has he rethought his decision?
Last year, I attended my mandatory mentors’ update session, and came away feeling that perhaps my time and experience would be used better if spent on direct patient care, instead of working with some students who did not want to learn, based in establishments which did not understand the realities of life on the ward.
I wrote this up, and submitted it to NT many months later, where it was published with commendable speed.
The online responses, on the whole, supported my view and stance; if you are a mentor, please try to find the time to read at least some of them. If you are a student, please try and read the lot. I never use this adjective in a blasé fashion, but in terms of nurse education today: there are profound insights there.
When I raised the matter of mentorship in my appraisal, a couple of days ago, I learned that I’m not the only nurse in my organisation to be thinking the same way. So I believe that an update might be worth the effort; but then, that is for you to judge.
Cutting to the chase: I am giving mentorship up.
This is not an easy choice – there’s little more pleasing to me than a session with a student where you see the light bulb go on. Even better is when the student says “Aaah… so that’s why….” and extrapolates to other conditions.
Those are the days when I clock off as a happy lad.
But over the time since that mentorship update, I’ve become more and more aware of students wanting ‘teaching’ over ‘education’ (see The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark). An example: revising neurological observations, I always ask “if intracranial pressure is rising, what happens with blood pressure and pulse, and why?” Once the student understands the concept of a system enclosed in a non-elastic case, they usually work it out.
But if I get the response: “it’s frustrating, you’re just not telling me”, then either I’m a rubbish teacher, or they don’t want to put the effort in (or both, of course).
This has not been an easy decision, and I am going to have to deal with guilty feelings for (probably) years. However, I will still be able to teach/educate; I just won’t have to spend hours filling in forms which may never be read, or deal with people who want ineffectual students to continue with their course, irrespective of their abilities, without ever coming and assessing them in the workplace.
Any fool can highlight problems, but suggesting solutions is harder. Anyway, here goes: bring back the RCNT. Younger nurses can Google it; older nurses will know what I mean.
Brian Booth is as staff nurse in a community hospital