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Me, myself and my mentor

  • Comments (4)

Whether we like it or not, students need to be mentored.

We all need that essential link to ensure that our time in placement is both productive and efficient. It is part of a mentor’s role to get to know their students and to try and tailor their teaching style to students’ individual needs.

The relationship between a student and a mentor is built up on expectations, students expect their mentors to be supportive, constructive and encouraging. Mentors, on the other hand, expect a student to be willing to learn, adaptable and professional.

Inevitably when a large number of students are mixed with a large number of mentors, differences in personalities are going to take place.

Speaking from my own experience of a mentor who wasn’t as supportive as I’d hoped, it can make things very tricky. But if you face a similar situation then you should know that there are methods of support to help you. There will be a link lecturer or link nurse between the placement and your university to help you or you could speak to your tutor directly.

But it’s not all negative.

I think there is a tendency among some students to underestimate how difficult it is to be a mentor. Being a mentor doesn’t absolve a nurse from their massive workload. They still have to contend with their day-to-day duties and on top of that they may have one, two or perhaps three students to guide through the nursing process.

This can be quite a strain so there are ways in which us students can help ourselves and make our mentor relationship better:

  • At the start of a placement we could set out what we would like to achieve from the practice area
  • We could ensure we don’t leave our practice documents to the last minute
  • We could be willing to adapt and fit in with the general ethos of our placement area

What do you think?

On the whole, the student-mentor relationship can benefit everyone involved. Students benefit from their mentor’s experiences, and mentors feel proud of their student’s achievments. When I spoke to my mentor she told me about the sense of pride she felt when she became a mentor. She spoke of a recognition that her nursing skills were sufficient to be able to teach other people.

Both students and mentors can benefit from their time together all that it takes is a little bit of adjustment on both sides.

Do you benefit from your relationship with your mentor? How would you like your relationship with your mentor to be different?

  • Comments (4)

Readers' comments (4)

  • Well done Adam, a very well argued piece. Students also need to ask their mentor if they are up to date and for the date of their last mentor update. In an ideal world this question should not be awkward or threatening. If the mentor is out of date your practice assessment document may be returned to you and it is possible that the NMC may decline your registration if your sign of mentor is out of date.
    Make a sure you have a date set with your mentor for your primary, intermediate and final interview.
    Both mentor and student can recieve support from the Link Lecturer, Practice Learning Facilitator and Ward Manager. Do not suffer in silence, get help fast.
    Jerry Masterson, Practice Learning Facilitator.

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  • Adam Roxby

    Hello Jerry

    Thank you for your comment. A point well made because I had the situation where my mentor was out of date. I only discovered this in the last 2 weeks of placement.

    I think some students get worried about asking things of there mentors for fear that it will reflect badly on them.

    I hope you continue to enjoy the site.

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  • When it all goes well, the student/mentor relationship is great, and can benefit both parties immensely. What I don't like about this system is how random and pot luck it often seems. Good mentors are never assured, in fact actually HAVING a mentor isn't always assured (I remember finding myself 3 weeks in still trying to argue to get a mentor with no help from the university), and many students do not have the experience or confidence to speak up about it, especially since the back up from university is not always there either.

    I don't want to sound overly critical, but I am speaking from experience as a student where many placements have been marred with bad experiences with mentors and I myself have had no back up from university.

    Luckily, I have had some great experiences too, with some amazing mentors who have taught me a lot and one in particular who is the reason I am a Nurse today after she persuaded me to see it through.

    Like I said, it is all pretty random, dependent on personalities and sometimes personality clashes, how busy the mentor and the ward in general is (this has a HUGE impact on things like getting papework signed off etc), the attitudes of both mentor and student, etc. Not exactly the best recipe for success.

    It is very easy to give the blase answer of At the start of a placement we could set out ... etc etc etc, but we all know the practicalities aren't always that simple.

    The clinical mentor is an important factor in a student Nurses training, but I believe that the university should play a much larger role too, reducing the paperwork for a start to decrease the workload pressure, maintaining a more permanent presence on the ward with a link lecturer acting as a tertiary mentor in between wards taking on a larger amount of students as a primary mentor but providing extra training. Just an idea.

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  • Adam Roxby

    Hello Mike

    Firstly, thanks for coming over to the Student Nursing Times.

    I think you're right, i've had some turbulence experiences with mentors in the past and part of that problem was because there were administration issues that i could never have foreseen or had any control over.

    It could have been made a lot easier with some changes to the system. I hope i didn't come across as overly simplistic in suggesting that the only thing you need to do to ensure a good relationship is to set out some ground rules at the beginning.

    I have a feeling this is going to be a subject that will be addressed in a future article.

    Thanks once again for getting involved.

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