Hence, the role of mentors and teachers becomes crucial as they are major facilitators of learning processes for children, young adults and students of higher learning (Megginson et al., 2006). The paper would therefore, critically evaluate the role of mentor in evaluating student learning in the nursing profession.
Mentors can be broadly be defined as guides and advisors for students in the process of learning. Though exact roles and responsibilities of mentors cannot be clearly defined but various scholars affirm that mentors mainly focus on individual students and facilitate learning environment in practice setting (Carnwell et al., 2007; Phillips et al., 1996; White et al., 1993). The major aim is to assess and evaluate students’ competencies, especially during pre-registration of healthcare workers. Department of Health has described it as ‘nurse, midwife or health visitor who facilitates learning, supervises and assesses students in the clinical setting’ (2001:6). Mentoring is intrinsic part of healthcare profession where mentors serve as important links in refining the skills and competencies of individuals to improve and improvise their performance. Thus, mentors are mainly experienced coaches or peer group who are capable of guiding young learners and sharpen their skills in the defined areas of expertise.
NMC (2008) emphasizes that qualified mentors are equipped with certain qualities which helps them to facilitate learning and assess students in practice settings. Some of these qualities as defined by Kerry and Mayes (1995) are: role modelling; nurturing attribute; capable of enhancing professional competencies of mentee; and building constructive relationship not only as teacher, friend or counsellor but as one of carer that is sustained over a period of time. These are key attributes that help to build bond of trust and mutual respect between mentor and learners. The mentors exert extensive