A literature review exploring student midwives' experiences of continuity of mentorship on the labour ward
Continuity of mentorship is central to students' clinical placement experience. Despite a plethora of studies investigating student-mentor relationships and how it affects grading, limited attention has been paid to the extent to which a lack of continuity of mentorship affects placement experience.
To explore the importance of mentor continuity on labour ward for pre-registration midwifery students.
A database search was conducted using the terms: ‘student midwives’, ‘continuity’, ‘mentor’, ‘preceptor’, ‘mentorship’, ‘labour ward’, ‘delivery suite’ and ‘experiences.’
Continuity of mentorship enhances learning and improves clinical practice experience.
A lack of continuity affects all aspects of student midwives’ experiences of the labour ward. Good mentor practice should focus on continuity and the introduction of co-mentoring, where a student is mentored by at least 2 midwives, in order to reduce the strain on mentors while retaining the feeling of belonging that student midwives value.
The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) regulates practice for nurses and midwives in the UK. It sets standards to support learning and assessment in clinical practice and the education of pre-registration nurses and midwives (NMC, 2009; NMC, 2010). The pre-registration midwifery programme requires the practice-to-theory ratio to be no less than 50% practice and 40% theory (NMC, 2008). During clinical placement, student midwives should work alongside their sign-off mentor for at least 40% of the placement (NMC, 2008). The NMC (2008) describes a mentor's role as supporting and guiding students, facilitating their learning and professional growth, and directly observing clinical practice. New standards have been received from the NMC outlining ‘assessor and supervisor’ roles (NMC, 2018a), which may change the landscape of practice learning in the future. Until new pre-registration standards are introduced in 2020, during clinical practice, student midwives develop clinical skills and care for women and their families with supervision from their sign-off mentor that reflects students' individual learning needs and stage of learning (NMC, 2018a). This provides safe and effective learning experiences while upholding public protection and safety (NMC, 2018a). In 2009, the NMC introduced mandatory clinical practice grading into the nursing and midwifery curricula, in addition to assessing competency of the essential skills clusters (NMC, 2009). Student midwives are graded by their sign-off mentor at the end of each year to ensure their practice meets these skills.
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