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‘How can I be a good mentor?’


Can you advise this nurse?

“I’m not actually a student nurse, I’ve been qualified just over a year and am about to start my mentoring qualification.

“Like most students I had ‘good’ and ‘bad’ mentors when I was training and I’m determined to make sure I fall into the ‘good’ category!

“So I wondered if you could tell me what you find helpful or supportive in a mentor? What sorts of things make placements easier and what makes them harder? Did a mentor do something specific that you found helpful?

“Any guidance on what makes a good mentor would be gratefully received! Thanks!”

Please use the comments section below to share your advice

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Readers' comments (5)

  • I always appreciate when mentors ask me how I learn best and tailor their approach to mentoring rather than assuming all students will benefit from the same type of mentoring. Also, ensuring that I have the opportunity to talk through a procedure beforehand - regardless of whether I'm in my first year or final year, I still may not have done it before/not done it for a while and therefore need reassurance. Ultimately, never assume what I as a student nurse need, talk to me please :-) Hope that helps

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  • Feedback & time. Feedback & time. Feedback & time.

    I've often found is that far too often mentors literally do not have the time to be with students or choose not to.

    What I have always wanted from a mentor is the capability of providing constructive feedback. Maybe use the nmc practice guideline: what did the student do well, what could the student improve on?
    Unfortunately lack of time being what it is, means that quick generic judgements are passed on at the end of shifts/ midpoints & final interviews. Being told bog standard generic phrases such as "your improving" doesn't really help students. What are we improving? How was it before? Why has it improved? What has the student/mentor gained from the improvement & how to learn from it? What could be put in place to enable further improvements in other areas?

    As the previous commentator has said treat students as individuals, as not everyone learns in the same way.

    I'm glad you take mentoring seriously. Good luck and I hope you have some good students who appreciate that you've put some thought and effort into what being a good mentor is.

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  • I agree, understand how that particular individual learns. More so, an explanation or a run through is always good, don't ever just assume somebody knows what they are doing. i always say it's like giving someone who doesn't drive your car keys and saying "there you go, pop to town for me please". If you have never done a certain thing before, how can you know how to do it?

    Also, to be mindful that every clinical area works differently so to run through the day to day routine and particulars in that area, paperwork etc. I find that always helps.

    A nice mentor goes a long way :)

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  • I agree, having a nice mentor does go a long way. It makes all the difference to the working relationship. It is worth remembering that placement experiences are discussed in group clinical supervision. We also give feedback to the placement facilitators. Don't become the type of mentor that everyone speaks negatively about and dreads to have in the future. Think back to the 'bad mentors' you had and do your utmost not to be anything like them.

    What will make it it easier:

    Spend quality time teaching your student. Remember we are going to be the nurses of the future, so teach us.

    Keep in mind that we are all individuals. We are not necessarily going to have the same personalities. Introverts and extroverts should both be valued. Teams need a mixture of personalities. A team made up entirely of extroverts or a team made up entirely of introverts just wouldn't work. We need various personalities for a team to be successful,

    Be patient with us. People learn in different ways and it may take a while for certain things to sink in.

    We have names. Please don't refer to us as 'The student'. Eg. "Get the student to it." "The student can do it." Respect works both ways.

    Remember you were a student once upon a time. Students are on placement to learn and your role as a mentor is to be approachable, share knowledge and be supportive.

    What makes placements harder:

    The opposite of all of the above.


    Leaving it to the last minute to sit down and sign everything off.

    Good luck. :-)

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  • Michelle

    I concur with all the previous responses, especially this one: "We have names. Please don't refer to us as 'The student'. Eg. "Get the student to it." "The student can do it." Respect works both ways.

    I'm no longer a student nurse but it would severely grate on me when either myself or my colleagues were referred to as "student". I make it a point to remember the names of students in my area, whether I mentor them or not, whether I work directly or indirectly with them, or even whether they're a student nurse, OT student etc.

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