Nursing. Mentorship in Practice

Role of the mentor in developing professional practice

Mentorship refers to the professional support provided by an experienced colleague to a practitioner or trainee towards “making successful transitions in work, knowledge and personal growth”. A mentor is a role model who is passionate about helping another person to cope with new situations in life as well as facilitating learning and acquisition of skills in professional practice. Mentoring varies from one model to another ranging from “peer support, co-mentoring, group mentoring and the one-to-one mentoring schemes” (Allen, 1998 P. 20).

According to Elizabeth (1999), the professional practice requires that enrolled or recruited professionals are effectively oriented with technical skills commensurate with their line of specialization. In addition, Allen (1998) states that experienced and established professionals serve as mentors in any field of specialization due to their technical expertise and know-how. Qualified professionals often face various challenges during their formative stages of employment where they apply knowledge and skills acquired during training practically. The transition period from academic, training to professional practice needs facilitation in order to reduce work-related stress.

Mentoring, therefore, entails the provision of guidance and support to newly recruited professionals with the purpose of consolidating their skills, building trust, confidence, and essential professional competencies necessary for their job description. According to Clutter buck (1988), mentoring schemes support individuals, organizations, disadvantaged groups, and gender minorities towards developing their professional potential, adapting to change as well as coping with new work responsibilities. Mentoring is a mutual relationship between mentor and mentee within the organizational context characterized by trust and utmost confidentiality.

Organizations, mentors, and mentees benefit from the entire career and personal development program. Organizations benefit from mentorship due to the broadening of the skills base and professional competencies of their subordinates. Mentorship also facilitates the process of bridging the gap between education, training, and service. In addition, it serves as a cost-effective program for other job training initiatives. Mentorship is therefore useful in raising an organization’s profile by stimulating innovation as well as increasing job satisfaction outcomes at the workplace.

The nature of the mentoring relationship is also strategic in developing networking opportunities, leadership, and communication skills among partners. On the other hand, the learner develops the analytical skills and professional knowledge necessary at the workplace. The mentee also develops sufficient political awareness, autonomy, maturity, and self-confidence essential for professional practice (Bennett & Can ham, 2001).

Supported professionals make wiser career decisions through reflection, problem-solving opportunities, and peer relationships. Role modeling is an important aspect of a mentor. Since mentorship is a voluntary exercise, the choice of a mentor depends on the values underpinning the relationship between parties involved. A mentoring relationship is a contract that calls for collaboration instead of competition thereby empowering the mentee to reflect positively on important learning outcomes. A sense of inquiry is established and scholarship opportunities are created through mutual reflection on work challenges and lifelong learning in career development.

Primarily, the main roles of a mentor include, “giving technical assistance, clarifying roles and responsibilities, analyzing learning experiences, encouraging analysis and reflection, listening and giving feedback”( Clutter buck, 1998 P. 12). The mentoring relationship is such that the mentor is responsible for creating a safe and protected environment through which the mentee can respond to issues objectively. The mentor supports and protects the mentee to develop self-confidence at the onset that progresses towards maturity where the mentee becomes independent and autonomous.

As mentorship grows so does, the mentee consolidates their skills through analytical, reflective, and challenging tasks. Mentees, therefore, benefit from “mentor’s experience, perspective, objectivity and distance” (Clutter buck, 1995 P. 33). Organizations help mentors and mentees to achieve desired targets and job outcomes by providing necessary resources and facilities for mutual interaction. The mentee is the potential to grow and even surpass their mentor’s professional profiles.

The mentoring relationship is such that the mentee is the subject who benefits from “mentor’s experience, empathy, openness and honesty” in the unfolding workplace scenarios (Conway, 1999). A good mentor should be willing to support and share the experience with the mentee/learner. Secondly, he/she should be empathetic enough to listen and give feedback positively. Other qualities necessary for a good mentor include patience, time management skills, counseling skills, and accessibility. As role models, mentors should be flexible and approachable in order to understand the difficulties and challenges that newcomers face.

On the other hand, mentees should be well organized, adaptable, and self-aware of desired goals during the mentorship. Good mentees are those who are willing to learn and respond to the challenges of their new professional assignments. They should also be willing to receive constructive feedback from mentors particularly in the assessment of their work. The mentoring relationship develops through a safe and protected environment where learning and experimentation take place.

Learning takes place in a cyclic manner with new ideas and knowledge acquired as professionals interacts. Mutual interaction between the mentor and the mentee only takes place when a special bond exists. The bond’s features include powerful and emotional attributes of a safe and protected mentoring relationship. Learning and mentoring take place on the flip side of each other. Mentors nurture and support learners to become more confident, sustainable, and independent. Mentoring is therefore a two-way relationship that involves equal partners ready to benefit from each other.

Since mentees need to gravitate towards a state of autonomy, mentors are concerned about empowering them through a supportive environment to develop and consolidate their professional skills. Potential mentoring participants must own the process through good communication structures and shared expectations. A facilitated mentoring scheme, therefore, begins with proper matching and pairing of partners followed by informal bonding. It is also worth noting that mentoring is not a counseling exercise but a professional arrangement for mutual partners to develop themselves appropriately (Elisabeth, 2009).

Critically appraise concepts underpinning effective working relationships in the context of mentorship.

Mentorship is a supportive and developmental relationship characterized by good communication, interpersonal skills, and effective orientation the o placement and continuous support to learners through a structured scheme. Practitioner and preceptor mentorship relationship exhibited in the nursing profession acknowledges the need for supporting newly registered workers during the transition period from nurse training to professional duty.

The underlying concept behind the role of the preceptor is to facilitate the process of instilling professional standards in nursing practice with minimum stress levels. Mentorship, support, and counseling sessions combined remedy work-related stress towards improving learning and therapeutic outcomes (Stredwick, 2005). Mentorship helps in providing hands-on experience in the context of a safe and protected health facility during nursing training at the last stages where practitioners get.

On the other hand, newly registered nurses undergo an induction preceptor-ship program that consolidates their professional competencies towards desired organizational outcomes. The mentorship schemes undergo preceptor-ship recognize that newly recruited nurses are accountable for quality practice after registration.

In addition, nurses shifting from one practice to another are also in need of transitional preceptor mentorship in order to adjust to their new responsibilities. Preceptors are generally “first-levelurses, midwives and health visitors with prior experience of one year in clinical practice” (Field, 1994). Practitioner and preceptor willingly engage in a professional induction program where the preceptor is acting as a guide and a counselor to the newly registered practitioner. The nature of this relationship is determined by geographical location, the context of clinical care desired, and the experience of the practitioner.

Knowledge and skills acquired during nursing training need further desiccation in order to improve professional practice and patient care. Registered practitioners overcome with responsibilities assigned to them in the early stages due to lack of mentorship. Seniority, age and wisdom of chosen receptors match with competencies expected of registered practitioners.

Apart from improving the quality of patient care provided, reduced medication errors, skills developed and employee retention guaranteed. Trained nurses are better equipped to perform their duties more confidently than those untrained do. Support provided to registered nurses for a period of about four months depending on prior exposure and experience of the practitioners. Preceptors are informed in advance about their mentorship roles in order to give them humble time o carry out independent research on their clients before embarking on the task.

An informed consent by the practitioner is essential before mentoring begins since both parties should be willing to participate in the exercise. A timeline perspective acts as a road map for mentoring schedules where venues for meetings are prior arranged and confirmed (Gray, 2009). Meeting agendas known in advance as a yardstick for further discussions. Important skills that during the mentoring program include;

  • Knowledge of practical skills acquisition
  • Organizational and management skills acquisition
  • Adult learning theory and strategies
  • Evaluation and assessment techniques
  • Counseling and communication skills development

According to General Medical Council (1993 P. 21), Comprehensive support and mentoring programs in clinical practice are useful in benchmarking organizational objectives with desired outcomes. Preceptor-practitioner relationships ensure that registered nurses graduate into professionals who are accountable and competent enough to work independently. Career and learning opportunities are stimulated through networking and induction.

Self-development achieved through a structured system that recognizes the needs of every practitioner. The mentoring process finally matures into a consolidated and facilitated program whose graduates are autonomous clinical professionals. Essentially, clinical supervision of registered nurses serves to reduce chances for medication errors thereby promoting the quality of patient care provided while increasing retention rates.

Critically analyze applying a process of reflection the nature of teaching, learning and assessment in clinical practice

According to General Medical Council (1997), a mentor is a trusted friend and role model whom plays an oversight role in assisting another person grows professionally and socially. The initial stage of the mentoring relationship involves setting goals, objectives and standards for the exercise. Mentor relationships are two-way where experienced members of staff are willingly engaged in supporting junior staff transcend from school life to professional life. Once the terms of reference are agreed, mentoring begins. The mentee reflects on various organizational outcomes and tasks for purposes of responding positively particularly in areas of weakness.

A mentor acts as a guide and a supervisor who monitors carefully the performance of a clinical practitioner and is required to issue regular assessment reports and feedback to that effect. The learner receives feedback and corrects on shortcomings highlighted from the assessment through meetings. This mentoring exercise is a prerequisite for clinical practice because patient care is of utmost importance to the wellbeing of the society. Mentoring in clinical practice is augmented with counseling service in order to deal with associated “partnership problems, work-related stress and work-family conflicts” (Olson & Vance, 1998).

The learning cycles involved during mentoring involves four main stages stated as follows: The activist- the ability of the mentee to participate proactively in events and tasks. The reflector-takes humble time to digest events through various angles of reasoning before deciding on what to do. The theorist creates information acquired rationally by evaluating theories, concepts and principles logically. The pragmatist- is interested in acquiring new ideas and information for applying them towards solving problems. Since mentoring intends in developing the professional profiles of mentees, reflection is an important attribute of the exercise. The mentoring relationship assists to the mentee gravitate from a dependent practitioner to an accountable professional.

The mentee should be an intelligent practitioner who is ambitious and goal-oriented. As a loyal and committed person, the mentee should be willing to accept challenges accompanying their profession in order to develop constructive alliances with mentors in order to succeed. The mentee should also be flexible and adaptable to new horizons at workplace as a self-aware professional. Reflection is therefore crucial in clinical practice because professional knowledge develops gradually in response to organizational changes.

Job satisfaction is a product of engaging competent professionals with thoroughly equipped to perform their duties without fear of reprisals or reality shocks. According to General Medical Council (1997), reflection facilitates professional growth and career development in clinical practice as the mentee matures into an independent practitioner.

Critically evaluate the context in which practice based teaching learning and assessment take place “environment”.

A safe and protected environment is essential for facilitated mentoring schemes. Learning is a continuous process that integrates theory in practice. Practice-based teaching explores practical approaches in professional life. Graduate trainees and practitioners may not perform assigned tasks professionally without facilitated mentoring (Megginson & Clutter buck, 1995). A mentor guides, counsel and directs the mentee in applying theoretical principles and concepts in professional practice.

Standards are usually set for every job description. A thorough assessment of job performances based on the premise that competent workers are capable of duties professionally is undertaken. Mentoring therefore facilitates the process of equipping new graduates and clinical practitioners with hands-on experience. Since mentors are professionals with overwhelming work-related experience, they coach newly registered nurses. This also improves organizational profiles apart from reducing on the costs of facilitating further training.

The mentoring relationship is a voluntary exercise allows parties involved to agree on common activities and events between them. They also agree of appropriate timeframes through which common tasks are to be undertaken. Finally, they define their terms of reference in line with set objectives.

As mentoring continues, mentors engage the mentee in constructive activities and discussions while taking stock of mentees’ achievements. Mentoring is not an evaluation of job performance by the mentor but a facilitated relationship that empowers the mentee to upgrade their practical skills and competences in line with set standards. Assessment is necessary for evaluating how far the relationship is growing. Essentially, the mentee is supposed to graduate from a dependent practitioner to an autonomous thinker and professional who can undertake tasks confidently (Grossman, 2007).

At the beginning of the mentoring relationship, the mentor is personally involved in guiding the mentee on various job activities. However, the relationship matures; the mentee develops greater experience and focus at work. Mentors give feedback as far as mentees’ performance is concerned after which mentees respond positively. This two-way collaborative relationship boosts morale at work by improving potential and ability to perform. Newly registered nurses confronted with various challenges that include the increased workload, limited practical knowhow and even the image created by their white uniforms. The initial days after enrollment are the most challenging. During this time, an induction program is appropriate in orientating the newly registered nurses with various job responsibilities. Mentoring evaluation subscribes to desired organizational goals, needs of the mentee and job challenges (Lewis, 2006).

Critically analyze the strategic relationship between mentorship, assessment and professional accountability.

Mentorship facilitates knowledge acquisition and skills development. A mutual relationship prevails between the two parties involved where a superior member of staff assists a practitioner in developing their professional competencies. A thorough and progressive assessment of the mentoring relationship ensures that the practitioner emerges as an accountable clinical professional. Recruitment and retention of the limited clinical professionals is essential. In addition, patient care is paramount in the health industry since people’s lives are at stake. As such, mentoring facilitates the process of consolidating skills acquired during training in practice.

Clinical assessment is necessary in order to realize the desired professional accountability in hospitals. Mentorship therefore equips learners with professional expertise by allowing a voluntary exchange of ideas and information to take place between an experienced mentor and an interested mentee (Hay, 1995). Continuous professional development exemplified through mentorship geared towards eliminating clinical blunders. Mentorship also provides proper learning opportunities for parties involved as they interact by reflecting on experiences.

Assessment looks into:

  • Pleasantries
  • Confirmation of the agenda
  • Review of previous meetings
  • Review of actions taken
  • Feedback and discussion
  • Action planning
  • Summary of sessions
  • Agreement of details of future meetings

Good practice demands that an appraisal of the mentoring relation from time to time is necessary in order to determine whether the process is achieving desired results. The content and process of the mentoring relationship reviews set objectives. Assessment is also important in alleviating the prospects of the relationship aborting before its desired maturity. Failure by the mentor and mentee to bond successfully may lead to a dead end (Holly& McLaughlin, 1989). It is painful for a mentorship relationship to cease before the practitioner is properly acquainted with desired professional competencies to practice.

Properly screening of potential mentors before the mentorship relationship begins is necessary. The contracting process that involves mentorship has clear roles and responsibilities of both parties. The boundaries for a mentoring relationship are prior arranged. Confidentiality is paramount in order to achieve a safe and protected mentorship relationship. The role of a proper framework through which various meetings take place cannot be overemphasized. Professional accountability is thus realized when a facilitated mentoring relationship matures successfully leading to an independent practitioner (Jones& Jowett, 1997). Both the mentor and the mentee are mutually engaged in constructive dialogue and exchanges for the mutual benefit.

Case Study on mentorship in practice

As a mentor, I have my prior knowledge and familiar experiences to coach and support nursing students during their preceptor-ship training. Since mentorship is a mutual phenomenon between willing partners in professional practice, I have always sought prior consent from my subjects before taking off. One of my mentees, a final year nursing student specializing in maternal care, caught my attention in terms of the specific details she expected from me.

We initially made formal agreements to participate in a collaborative training and mentoring exercise before embarking on any tasks. Being an expert in the field of midwifery and maternal care, I dedicated much of time guiding the preceptor on fundamental clinical procedures nurses encounter in their professional practice (Jowett, Shaw& Tarbitt, 2007). The entire process was well structured and time-framed. We initially agreed on how we could conduct meetings as well as the ward rounds sessions. I was particularly motivated to help the preceptor since she was passionate and committed to the cause.

Our timetable also provided for breaks where informal discussions, reflection and feedback could be exchanged on the progress of the exercise. In order to avoid unnecessary anxiety and unsolicited attention, we arranged to have our meetings and learning sessions in secluded places where interaction was best. I also contacted other members of the professional team at the health facility for further support in their line of duty and specialization. These included professionals in the laboratory, records department, theatre and nursing portfolios (Jowett, 2005). The learning process therefore progressed with or without my presence.

The support provided was also dynamic and extensive cutting across different fields and areas of specialization. Assessment procedures evaluated matters of clinical procedures, progress on meetings, use of resources and time management. For instance, midwifery and clinical procedures were conducted separately in order to avoid unnecessary confusion. Reliability and validity of the feedback given was measured by the learner’s ability to reflect and develop higher professional skills at workplace. Achievement was therefore a factor of the successful implementation of training programs as well as realization of performance targets. Each participant was expected to exercise maximum levels of accountability and responsibility (Kolb, 2004).


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