Supporting Student Nurses By The Educational Use of Self: A Hermeneutic Phenomenological Exploration of the Mentor Experience.
The Open University.
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This thesis reports on a study of the lived experience of clinical nurses as mentors of student nurses in the workplace. Pre-registration nurse education, in which students must spend fifty percent of their time in practice, relies on a partnership between universities and health care providers and, crucially, the availability of practice mentors, able to support and assess practice learning.
Within a hermeneutic phenomenological research methodology, twelve nurses described their experiences of mentoring through conversational interviews and event diaries which included ‘rich pictures’. The mixed methods provided openings for participants to talk about the harder-to-access elements of experience and generated multiple layers of rich data. Analysis of the data involved the application of different interpretive lenses: existentials in the care structure of Heidegger’s (1962) Dasein and the four lifeworld existentials (van Manen, 1997).
For these respondents, the mentoring experience was rewarding, satisfying, frustrating, and even distressing at times. Being a mentor meant existing in worlds of ‘high stakes’, ‘hope for the nursing profession’ and ‘fragments’, governed by resource constraints, contextual demands and concern for others. Educational purposes dominated their being, revealing an essence, interpretively coined as ‘the educational use of self’, which meant that they were individually and authentically engaged in supporting and assessing learning.
This study promotes greater understanding of mentoring practice and workplace learning, which can inform processes of recruitment, preparation and support of both students and mentors. Key insights are that mentors need support to work with complex and often hidden knowledge, including situations involving their intuitions.
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