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Mentorship and the role of the nurse and midwife

11 May 2016

Health Education England (HEE) has appointed, Karen Sheehy, a Registered Nurse and senior lecturer in mentorship and professional education at Oxford Brookes University, as a Fellow for one year. The post was developed due to challenge of the increasing number of adult nursing commissions over the past few years for placement providers in terms of placement capacity and the added pressure on nurse mentors who supervise and assess the students. Increasing capacity and maintaining the quality of the learning environment in both the NHS and the non-NHS sector are key HEE drivers and essential components of this role. 

Karen will undertake a comparative study to explore the existing and innovative methods of mentorship in the HEETV area. Karen is seconded from Oxford Brookes where she is a senior lecturer in Mentorship and Professional Education and is also currently enrolled in a Professional Doctorate in Nursing, focusing on mentorship. The Fellowship aims to recommend how the findings could inform mentorship practice in NHS trusts, higher education institutions and the private, voluntary and independent sector in Thames Valley and share best practice across HEE.  Karen would like to hear from anyone who feels they could contribute to her network and information gathering.

In this blog, she talks about the growing importance of mentoring in nursing – an area underlined by the Shape of Caring and other reviews.

As half of all pre-registration nursing and midwifery programmes are embedded in the practice setting, the role of the mentor as a teacher, supervisor and assessor is very important. 

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) makes it a mandatory requirement that all pre-registration nursing and midwifery students on approved educational programmes have a mentor. This mentor supports learning and assessment in practice, and makes judgements on fitness for practice to enter the register. Mentors are accountable to the NMC for such judgements, but must inform HEI staff of any concerns regarding performance or progress. Mentors must be formally prepared for their roles and meet the minimum requirements set by the NMC.

Shape of Caring

Shape of Caring identified that in order to address the issues of both increasing capacity of placements and quality in practice education; many services across England are exploring innovative ways of supporting student nurses in practice. The review gives the example of the Collaborative Learning in Practice model, which has been piloted by HEE in the East of England. In non-medical education the term ‘mentorship models’ is used to describe these approaches.  It is evident there is an essential need to explore innovative models of mentorship to identify the optimum method/s of mentoring students to ensure they have high quality learning experiences without compromising patient safety and patient care.

Royal College of Nursing (RCN) rapid review

The RCN (2015) published a rapid review of mentoring models outside the UK, and models used at similar career stages in other professions. The review found examples of models across nursing, other health professions, teaching, social work, law, engineering, police and other professions. There are few studies on mentoring models, with most being descriptions of what was being done in practice rather than formal models. The best described nursing and midwifery models identified in the RCN review that are used internationally are:

  • Real Life Learning Wards (Amsterdam model) is already being piloted in the UK (with some modification) as Collaborative Learning in Practice (CLiP) in HEE
  • Dedicated Education Units in USA and Australia
  • Clinical Facilitation models in Australia.

These models differ from the traditional UK 1:1 nursing and midwifery mentoring approach in having increased ratios of students to mentor, offering tiers of mentorship and different intensities of mentoring input. Several studies reported that the organisational context and quality of individual relationships had more impact on positive outcomes than the type of mentorship model used.

Posted by Karen Sheehy