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NMC standards have a pragmatic approach to mentoring nursing students

Part two of the new standards state that 'all NMC registered nurses and midwives are capable of supervising students'

Part two of the new standards state that 'all NMC registered nurses and midwives are capable of supervising students'


Picture: John Houlihan

In May 2018, the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) published its new standards, Future Nurse: Standards of Proficiency for Registered Nurses, with part one covering nursing and midwifery education and part two covering student supervision and assessment.

Part 2: Standards for Student Supervision and Assessment (SSSA) will supersede the Supporting Learning and Assessment in Practice Standards, therefore removing the need for a formal mentorship qualification to mentor and assess nursing students in clinical practice.

Historically, the registered nurse was required to have undertaken a period of study and successfully completed a mentorship programme before being able to supervise and assess nursing students in clinical practice – for example the Teaching and Assessing English National Board 998 and 997, City and Guilds Further and Adult Teachers Certificate 730/7307, and more recently university programmes such as the Mentor Preparation Programme.

'It was considered a rite of passage to have successfully completed a mentorship programme'

It was considered a rite of passage to have successfully completed a mentorship programme – knowing that as a registrant you would be mentoring and influencing the next generation of nurses. A mentorship qualification was also a requirement for career progression from grade D to grade E (senior staff nurse) band 5 to band 6.

In the new SSSA the mentor is replaced by a practice supervisor and a practice assessor. It is envisaged that the practice assessor will be a registered nurse who is a sign-off mentor (under the current system) and the practice supervisor can be any registered professional.

There is an assumption that supervision of nursing students will become the responsibility of every registered nurse, and not just those with a mentoring qualification and a passion for teaching – and this is echoed in The Code (NMC 2015): ‘Support students’ and colleagues’ learning to help them develop their professional competence and confidence.’

Role models for safe and effective practice

The new SSSA states that ‘all NMC registered nurses and midwives are capable of supervising students, serving as role models for safe and effective practice, and that students may be supervised by other registered health and social care professionals’.

The new approach taken to the supervision and assessment of students in clinical practice is a pragmatic one in view of the national shortage of registered mentors and the current nursing workforce deficit.

However, the idea that any registered care professional can supervise a nursing student is a cause for concern. As the NMC prepares to admit the new registered nurse associate to its register in 2019, registered nursing associates could, and probably will be, supervising nursing students under the new framework.

Undoubtedly emergency care is a challenging environment to work in, and the majority of emergency nurses reading this article will have memories of the inspirational mentor that they had as a nursing student or a newly qualified nurse and perhaps thoughts of ‘I want to be like you’.

I do hope that these new NMC standards will continue to produce inspirational memories for our future workforce.

Further information


About the author

Mike Parker is a senior lecturer in emergency nursing and vice-chair of the undergraduate programmes board at the University of York

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