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Why do mentors pass failing students?

  • Comments (7)
  • Article: Veeramah V (2012) What are the barriers to good mentoring? Nursing Times; 108: 39, 12-15.

Key points

  • Lack of time and the demands of patient care are two key barriers to successful mentoring
  • Inadequate preparation and support can result in mentors passing students they should fail
  • Mentors need more help and educational guidance in completing education institutions’ assessment documentation
  • Mentors should have regular updates and relevant in-service training
  • Practice development managers and clinical practice facilitators should work with link lecturers to support mentors

Let’s discuss

  • Why do you think mentors pass failing students?
  • What preparation should nurses have to be an effective mentor?
  • What can healthcare organisations do to support mentors to carry out their role?
  • What are the characteristics of a good mentor?
  • You have assessed a student you are mentoring as failing. What action should you take?
  • Comments (7)

Readers' comments (7)

  • Anonymous

    I don't pass failing students. However, I do liaise closely with educational institutions to support the student....whatever the outcome, most have been a successful, occasionally not. I recall one student who was not up to the grade, and even with all the support from mentors and the university, didn't qualify. I keep in touch with this person. They still work in the NHS, but gave up an N/A post, as found it too much. I believe the right decision was made for this person, I would have hated to see them disciplined for any shortfall in their knowledge or skills, I believe ultimately the outcome was the best for patients and themselves. Some may find this strange, but this case is one I am most proud of, I wanted to do the best for them.

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  • Anonymous

    fear?

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  • Anonymous

    I have never passed a failing student.I would be devastated if i had passed someone and they caused a serious injury or worse.
    Communication is the key - tutors,the school,the student etc.

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  • Anonymous

    as a stage 1 mentor, able to be a mentor but not able to sign the documentation, i feel that mentors do not dedicate or invest enough time into the education of students they are assigned, this may be for many reasons, confidence, knowledge and time constraints seem to be the most popular, but in these situations isn't it the mentors responsibility to make sure these students have the knowledge they require and that is only going to happen through investment and communication. Close links should be in place so the mentor can liase with the education facility so any problems can be identified. After all where patient safety is paramount passing a student that should be failed is a patient safety risk, and no mentor would want that responsibilty. Students are our future so they need to be taught the best way possible within a good team and great communication is one of the most important skills we can give them.

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  • sharon down

    As a second year student, I find the possiblity of a mentor passing a failing student shocking. I work very hard to obtain the grades i get, and the thought of mentors passing students who are not competent makes me cross. Mainly because they are putting patients at risk, and they are only setting the students up for a fall when they become qualified. It is also giving the student false confidence, when they should be seeking help. However the student should be speaking up if they feel they are not competent and obtain extra training before the time of marking.

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  • Anonymous

    First issue , no mentor will ever admit that they knowingly passed a student who should have failed and therefore never learn and improve. Second issue, you have to have good people management skills to fail a student as it is similar to appraisal and telling member of staff they are not performing. If you don't have these skills do not be a sign off mentor. Third issue, some mentors will lower the level of expectation rather than confront the performance issue. So, the student in their mind, is competent and can be passed. If these mentors were reflective there would be hope, as they would improve the next time they are faced with the situation. The whole situation is made worse by the fact that students are not in placement for long enough when they are summatively assessed. There is also the fact that most mentors will have few experiences to to draw on of failing a student.

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  • Anonymous

    Never mind passing failing students,what about NMC giving PIN to some overseas Nurses who can hardly speak a word of English let alone understanding the language?Is this not putting patients at risk and compromising nursing? Believe me i have seen it all.Politics aside,NMC must ensure that before one is eligible to practice in this country,one ought to demostrate that they are competent,and are fluent in English regardless of where they are coming from.Patients' safety must be our priority.

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