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‘How can I make my mentor see past my mistake?’


Can you advise this student nurse?


“The other day I was supposed to be giving two patients their depots on the ward so went to the clinic to draw them both up at the same time.

“I’m third year and not really fazed by injections so just got on with it.

“I was probably feeling overconfident because I got the two mixed up, but realised as soon as I’d drawn them up and didn’t give anyone the wrong medication.

“Unfortunately, my mentor noticed my mistake at the same time I did and was fuming. He sent me out of the clinic and later on told me to go on the internet and read up on what could have happened if I’d given the wrong depot.

“I was so embarrassed but thought that would be the end of it. I know I won’t make the same mistake again.

“But now he won’t let me do anything. I feel like he’s punishing me.

“How can I regain my mentor’s trust?”

- Toby, Manchester


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Readers' comments (6)

  • I think his behaviour is terrible. I'm sure you've realised the error of you're ways, and will learn for this potentially lethal mistake. Has he never made one? Gosh it must be lovely to be so perfect.

    Is he approachable in anyway, could you talk to him about how he's making you feel? Is there anyone else, in a position of authority, that you can speak to about how you're feeling?

    If not contact the university, because the aim of your placement is to gather valuable experience, which you could say this has taught you, but if that's where it ends then it is serving you no good.

    Best of luck and chin up

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  • Hi Toby, I am sorry you have had this distressing experience. I understand that its difficult for you, and I imagine it's been difficult for your mentor too. Your mentor has the responsibility to assess your practice in a robust, accurate way, and he is accountable to the NMC for the decisions he makes in this regard. This is a huge responsibility for mentors & he may be feeling unsettled & unsure how to proceed with you, in a way that makes sure you understand the potential seriousness of the error, and makes sure you move on in your practice in a safe & supported way. I'd suggest that you contact your Practice Educator or Personal Tutor & arrange a three-way meeting together to talk this through, in order to free the 'log jam'. You could also offer to provide him with a 'work product' to show you have taken the error seriously, and are treating it as an opportunity to improve your practice. Good Luck Toby.

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  • I would suggest having a discussion with your mentor first of all to see if the two of you can work past this. If there's no resolution then you may have to bring your link lecturer involved as this is obviously affecting your practise.

    Have you actually reflected on this near miss and reassured him and others you're working with that you've understood the error and how you'll try to learn from this? We all make mistakes and all we can do is learn from them. Perhaps writing a short reflective piece on this and presenting it to your mentor may help too?

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  • Hi Toby,

    As others have said, ultimately, it is your mentor who is accountable for your practice and they are answerable to the NMC... He therefore needs to have faith in you thus a reflective written piece on your part will demonstrate your development to your mentor and show how seriously you are taking this matter as has been stated too. In addition, my place of work requires 2 staff nurses to draw up depots (to reduce the risks of making mistakes) and this has been the case for the past 6 years... so I am therefore wandering if you may have breached local policy?? You said you are not fazed by depots so just got on with it... I am presuming on your own?? It may be worth you checking out your own local policies and guidelines regarding this matter for your own learning and your reflective written piece if necessary. Sometimes we can become a bit too confident in our own abilities and make the mistake of forgetting about the most fundamental as aspect of ensuring we are following local and national policies and procedures! I would suggest you talk to your mentor (with another member of staff present) and ask them how you can demonstrate further learning to ensure his confidence in you is restored... though take your reflective with you as I am sure this will help!! Good Luck!

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  • Rebecca Kidman

    1. As the others have said, discuss with your mentor your feelings.
    2. May be writing a reflection on it and present it to him, asking what you need to do to restore his confidence.
    3. If his attitude is still the same, bring in the link tutor/practice placement team.
    4. Wondering what was meant by 'not fazed' by injections?

    I'm a 2nd year who visits depot clinic every placement to keep my skills up to date but I know when I'm a clinic practicing or out on a ward, two nurses are required to draw up and wondering what your previous experience had been with giving depot injections? One or two people?

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  • To be fair to you, your mentor should have been with throughout the identification, preparation and administration part to reduce any potential errors. Reflection is the way forward here.

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