But what exactly does the term mentorship mean and how does it impact the clinical learning environment
In order to fully understand the impact of mentoring, it must first be defined. Wilson (2001) understood the complexity of the mentorship concept when she rightly stated that it usually conjured images of an older person mentoring a younger person but that it also meant many things to different people. The ENB (2000) uses it to denote the role of the nurse, midwife or health visitor who facilitates learning and supervises and assesses students in the practice setting and often uses it in lieu of assessor (ENB, Preparation of Mentors and Teachers (2001) p6). Wilson (2001) defines this further to refer to "holistic process that facilitates the personal and professional development of an individual. It is the opportunity to learn from someone more experienced and respected who plays a significant role in guiding one in both personal and professional decision-making." In effect, a mentor is someone who goes beyond teaching the mentee by inspiring them to go beyond the boundaries of what they believe they are capable of doing. In the clinical environment, the role of the mentor thus takes on a more critical role in that they are responsible for shaping pre-registration healthcare personnel and preparing them for contact with the individuals, who more often than not, need high quality and competent health care.
Mentorship Traits and Roles
Rowley (2005) provided five key qualities of the good mentor. He states that a good mentor is:
committed to the role of mentorship
a model of continuous learning
accepting of the beginning mentee
communicates hope and optimism
Darling (cited in HCCSHS, 2001) further identified the following characteristics students look for in a mentor:
An envisioner who gives a picture of what nursing can be, is enthusiastic about
opportunities or possibilities and inspires interest;
An energiser who makes nursing fascinating, and is enthusiastic and dynamic;
A model the student can look up to, values and admires and may wish to emulate.
An investor who spends a lot of time with the student, spots potential and
capabilities, and who can hand over responsibility.
A supporter who is willing to listen, is warm and caring and is available in times of
An eye-opener who inspires interest in research and is able to facilitate
understanding of wider issues, such as hospital politics and the total impact of
departmental initiatives on the unit as a whole.
A door-opener who included the student in discussions, asks the student to be a
representative on committees and delegates a range of tasks to the learner.
A problem-solver who helps the student to figure out and try out new ideas, and who
can analyse strengths and create ways to use them for the benefit of nursing.
A career counselor who gives guidance and support in career planning
No more are these descriptions more apt as in the clinical environment where the mentor is both teacher, advocate and friend to her charges.
Mentorship as applied to the clinical environment
In the a pre-registration set-up such as the ward, a majority of the student nurses usually come to the unit with only theoretical concepts of nursing. It is always a challenge for them to integrate