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Mentor, coach, teacher, role model: what's in a name?

02 March 2019
Volume 27 · Issue 3


In its new standards for education and training, the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) states that students should be ‘empowered and provided with the learning opportunities they need to achieve the desired proficiencies and programme outcomes’ (NMC, 2018a:5). This concept of empowerment, with students as active, rather than passive learners, will be supported by the introduction of practice assessors and supervisors, providing personalised support according to the student's proficiency and confidence. The mentor, traditionally perceived as a ‘teacher’, will be replaced by the practice assessor and supervisor as ‘role models’ and ‘coaches’.

A previous article in this series (Power and Jewell, 2018) looked at the introduction of a coaching model of student support in practice. This article will discuss a third-year student midwife's experiences of her final labour ward placement and her reflections on her mentor's approach to student support using the coaching model.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) is seeking to redefinine the standards of proficiency for the future midwife, to ensure that at the point of registration, student midwives can deliver evidence-based, compassionate and safe care. A 12-week consultation period on the draft standards began in February 2019 and will be published in January 2020. The aim is then for the standards to be introduced in September 2020 (NMC, 2019).

The new outcome-focused NMC standards for education and training (NMC, 2018a; 2018b) offer approved education institutions and their practice learning partners greater flexibility and autonomy in the development and delivery of innovative pre-registration midwifery programmes. New titles, such as ‘practice assessor’ and ‘practice supervisor’, have been introduced into this new flexible model of student supervision and assessment, with the emphasis on students being proactive learners who are ‘supported to learn’, rather than passive recipients of knowledge. Table 1 details the roles and their responsibilities in further detail.

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