Is it the carrot or the stick?
Student midwife Paulina Sporek discusses the value in mentors.
In Greek mythology, mentor was the wise and faithful advisor to Odysseus. Today the term ‘mentor’ is generally used to describe a friend, role model, an able advisor and a person who provides support in many ways (Stuart, 2013). According to the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) a mentor is ‘a mandatory requirement for pre-registration nursing and midwifery students' (NMC, 2008). Mentors are accountable to the NMC for their decision that students are fit-for-practise and that they have the necessary knowledge, skills and competence to take on the role of registered nurse or midwife.
Students' practice experience is widely acknowledged as one of the most important parts of their preparation to become health professionals. In its report Making a Difference, the Department of Health (DH) (1999) stated that provision of practice placements is a vital part of the education process and that every practitioner shares responsibility to support and teach the next generation of nurses and midwives. Learning in the clinical setting ensures that future midwives are fit-for-practise and purpose and mentors are a key support to students in practice.
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