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'Should all mentors conduct placements in the same uniform way?'

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Some students have been allowed to do all sorts on placement, others have only observed.

In my first year I didn’t think much of it as it made sense to mostly observe, but as I approached the end of my second year I began wondering if mentors should be given specific guidelines for what us students can and can’t do in practice.

Having looked through the NMC’s standards to support learning and assessment in practice, not much was mentioned about specific clinical activities.

Mentors need to spend 40% of the placement either directly or indirectly supervising students, can only have up to 3 students at a time, and can use different methods of assessment such as OSCEs.

The NMC guidelines give mentors scope to use their professional judgement to determine what a student is and isn’t capable of, which can be difficult when a mentor and a student have just met.

Assessment is continuous but some placements just aren’t long enough to let the student demonstrate the skills they have. Not only that but it can be hard to develop any sort of rapport with patients when you may only be there for a few weeks and they are in need of longer-term care.

I have for the most part been extremely lucky with my placement experiences. I have had mentors who suggest that I observe, because they want me to develop a knowledge base and to feel confident before I undertake any skills, and I have had mentors who have let me work under indirect supervision, which I appreciated as I felt that they had confidence in me.

A key element to getting the most out of your placement can be having a good relationship with your mentor, which may not always happen. Discussing what you want to achieve on the placement will help you and your mentor decide what you can and can’t do.

What have your experiences on placement been like? Have you been able to work independently or have you often been left to observe?

Natalie Moore is the mental health branch student nurse editor for Student Nursing Times.

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