Mentors' experiences of supporting pre-registration nursing students : a grounded-theory study

Wisdom, Helen (2011). Mentors' experiences of supporting pre-registration nursing students : a grounded-theory study. EdD thesis The Open University.



This study explores the experiences of mentors who support pre-registration nursing students in clinical practice. The research was conducted in a remote and rural Scottish Health Board area. It poses the question, 'What role do mentors play in facilitating learning in practice?' Sub-questions explore how mentors see their role in promoting students' professional development, how they support students across the four domains of practice identified by the NMC (2004), and what factors impact upon mentors' abilities to promote student learning. An interpretative approach was adopted, guided by the principles of grounded theory (Strauss and Corbin, 1998). The theoretical framework drew upon social learning theories in helping to explain how possibilities for learning are dependent upon the social situation, social practices and student admission to 'communities of practice' (Lave and Wenger, 1991). The key data collection method was that of interview. 10 mentor volunteers were interviewed on two occasions, 8 of these mentors also kept diaries of their mentoring activities and reflections over a 12 week period. Findings led to the development of a tentative theory 'Fostering student learning' in which mentors facilitated the learning and development of their mentees in a supportive atmosphere likened to that of a nurturing family. The quality of the personal relationship between mentor and mentee was important as mentors established on-going dialogue with their mentees and 'coached' them towards achieving proficiency, instilling in them the values of kindness, compassion and a pride in the profession. In clinical placements in remote settings the pastoral role of the mentor appeared heightened and this added to the pressure mentors experienced as they sometimes struggled to balance competing responsibilities. The role of mentor is vital to supporting student learning, it has significant impact upon those who undertake it. A number of recommendations are made concerned with strengthening the mentor role.

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