Advice and development

Making the most of the student-mentor clinical partnership

Kathy Wilson explains what is expected of you and how to plan for a successful placement.

Kathy Wilson explains what is expected of you and how to plan for a successful placement.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council requires that students have an identified member of staff to supervise and support their learning on clinical placements.

Not all students will have a qualified nurse as their mentor – another healthcare professional may take on the role, but as long as they are ‘suitably prepared’ by the university, this meets standards.

Sometimes you will be notified of your mentor or supervisor before your placement. If not, find out who they are on your first day – the ward manager, link lecturer or practice education facilitator will be able to help.

A mentor is important, but your learning does not have to be impeded if they are not on duty. Experienced healthcare assistants and allied health professionals such as physiotherapists can share their experience, as can second and third year nursing students. They know what it is like to be new, and will be keen to develop their teaching and supervision skills.

Face-to-face meetings with your mentor or supervisor are invaluable. At your mid-point and end of placement meetings you will need to record your feedback and consider your future learning. Understanding your assessment requirements will aid your learning, and self-assessment is as important as feedback from your mentor. It enables you to develop further, so take the time to do it, and make notes before any meetings.

To make the most of the learning opportunities, follow these pointers:

  • Carry out a task only if you are comfortable, and only if you have been shown how to do it under supervision and have the required support.    
  • Think of one new thing to learn each day. It could be something you are taught, a reflection on why a patient is behaving in a certain way, or exploring the professional roles you see.
  • Understand your assessment requirements so that you can take control of your learning.
  • Every experience is valuable. You may not experience working with this client group again, so be proactive and motivated.
  • On occasion it may seem tough, but there is always someone to help, so make sure you ask.


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