January 26, 2010, by Teaching at Nottingham

The academic’s role in supporting placement mentors

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Alison Clark: “Well, the students are given an assessment of practice record, which has a range of proficiency statements that the Nursing and Midwifery Council expect them to achieve over a three year period. The mentors then, have to interpret that in the practice setting, and then they make the decision how much a student can achieve within a given period and at that stage of the programme. And then, what the Lecturers are supposed to do in the school is actually help mentors devise that kind of strategy for students, make it explicit, what a realistic expectation might be over a given period of time, at a given level.”

Review meeting

Alison: “Okay, so if – what we need today, I think, is sort of settle in your mind the, kind of, pattern you could go through, how to give yourself a reasonable workload over the next five weeks. How that will pop out as some of your assignment work and how you’ll have a nice package of evidence by the end of the semester to say you’ve achieved all the outcomes. ‘Cause I think that’s the main worry that all students have, isn’t it, Annie?”

Annie Byng: “Yeah. ‘Cause they don’t…”

Alison: “‘Cause it just seems such a lot of work to get it all done.”

Annie: “Hmmm. And because it’s such a different area, evidence collection seems difficult as well. Because it tends – some of the things tend to be a little bit woolly and not conclusive. You know, it’s easy to get something on leg ulcers and specifics, whereas some of the issues around Cardiac Rehab are a little bit indeterminate really.”

Alison: “And I think it’s the whole issue of what do you collect? How much do you need?


Interviewer: Bringing together yourself and the student with a representative from the academic course, Alison, how does that contribute to your work with the student?”

Annie: “I think it puts things into perspective and it allows the student time to know what evidence she needs to collect to make the experience real and be valid by the University, because they go on these experiences, they’ll come out with a home visit, but it’s knowing how to collect the evidence and how to put it down in paper, and it’s quite good that Alison gets involved, so we can look at different aspects that are important as well.”

Review meeting

Alison: “But the sort of social interaction stuff, dealing with the sort of emotional side, adaptation side, Annie, was something that I think sometimes we don’t, perhaps cover with enough…

Annie: Yeah, we’ve talked about that today, haven’t we. They almost going through like a bereavement when they have a heart attack, don’t they, denial, acceptance, bargaining, fear, disbelief, then there’s like the euphoria of being alive and healthy.”

Jo-anne Fisher: “Yes. Yeah. Talked about almost living on the adrenalin after the event, didn’t we, and how, you know, when we actually go to a patient and discuss things, they’re not actually taking in what we’re saying, are they?”


Alison: My role is in helping the mentors come to some kind of decision, either individually or as a group that this is the standard they would expect of a student at a certain stage in the course, over a certain period of time, and I think that’s quite difficult because the proficiency statements are quite open and quite broad.

Annie Byng
School of Nursing, Midwifery & Physiotherapy

Alison Clark
School of Nursing, Midwifery & Physiotherapy

Jo-anne Fisher
School of Nursing, Midwifery & Physiotherapy

Extracts from meetings between student nurses, their professional mentors and an academic, and interviews with the participants, produced as part of a CEPPL funded project on placement learning.
This article was originally published as part of PESL’s Teaching at Nottingham collection. Produced January 2010.

Posted in Placements and work based learningThe role of the teacher