Strategies for mentorship and assessment of nursing students: A reflective essay







IntroductionNursing mentorship is an important aspect of the process of acquiring the prerequisite skill set in this sensitive trade. The mentorship programs offered in many parts of the world are supposed to be an emulation of Florence Nightingale’s instructive sessions in the Crimean War (Shaw, 2012). During these periods, she would physically guide the other nurses on the job by offering advice, instruction, and information. These practices have continued to be an important pillar for the nursing profession due to the empowerment of nurses and optimization of the skills they obtain in class and practice.Such was my case some time back when I was required to mentor a third-year nursing student during her practice run in the local hospital. One of the requirements of this mentorship exercise was for her to gain a deeper understanding of some of the core competencies her level of instruction has acquired her. In addition, I was also supposed to ensure that the student gained more confidence in her practice since the acquisition of skills without a proper level of confidence was one of the nursing field’s most disturbing problems (Canham and Bennett, 2002). More so since human lives might depend on it.The student, named Paula, arrives quite early on the day we expected her. Her first day started well since timeliness is an important virtue for the nursing trade as well as critically important for the practice. I introduced her rest of the nursing fraternity attached to the mature female ward -my working zone. I felt that the acquaintances would assist her develop the required confidence she needed to communicate well in the ward since communication was necessary for any teamwork, which is what nursing is about essentially (Scott and Spouse, 2013). After acquainting her with the mature female ward nurses, Paula came to my office for the rest of her initial orientation into the four weeks mentorship program. The mentorship would culminate in my making entries into the ongoing achievement record as well as student reports.As part of the mature female ward, Paula would need to carry out many duties in the course of her mentorship program. The adult female ward has many female patients with a wide variety of female-specific diseases and medical problems (Levin and Feldman, 2012). The learner would experience a full range of medical scenarios in which to operate and gain the necessary skills to become a competent nurse in the future. In order to facilitate the learner in the best manner possible, I decided to identify the best strategies for mentorship and assessment. In execution, they would benefit Paula and me since mentorship offers the mentor with a learning experience as well.Strategies for mentorshipThe first strategy I identified for Paula’s benefit was the bottom-up approach. We needed to start her mentorship process from the areas of knowledge to new ones (Baxley, Ibitayo and Bond, n.d.). Therefore, I set about establishing what the learner had assimilated into the classroom environment and her application of the same during practice sessions. In addition I identified we would identify her areas of weakness in the curriculum in order to strengthen them later on using the appropriate methodology. Therefore, Paula seemed to have acquired a thorough knowledge of all aspects of maternal care nursing but has a weak grasp of midwifery techniques. Therefore, we decided to apply more effort in her weak areas while maintaining her grasp of the strengths to improve her overall situation in terms of nursing skills and competence after mentorship and school.The second strategy I decided would be best for her was the 5-step of instruction. This method utilizes five tried and tested methods that seek to instill clinical and medical skills in the nursing fraternity. The first step involves sensitizing the learner on the need to acquire the required skills while motivating them. Paula would respond well to this part since she had exuded confidence in her ability to capture concepts and developed a liking for the nursing knowledge (Gantz, 2010). The second step involved requesting the learner to demonstrate the skills without discussion in order to identify the skill level and areas, which needed work. Paula was an excellent student in school having captured almost all her classroom concepts well; however, her midwifery was wanting. The third step involved me – the mentor – demonstrating the skills once more but using discussion to identify the learner’s weakness and install more in the learner. Paula seemed genuinely interested in capturing the skills that needed more work. The fourth step required Paula as the student to talk me through the steps, and the last one qualified her to carry out the skills.While mentoring is an important part of a learner’s skills improvement process, the best practice and development emanates from the student practicing their newly acquired skills in individual cases in order to create confidence and boost their adaptive ability in applying these skills to the different scenarios that come their way (Prevost, 2005). Paula would, therefore, need more practice in real life situations in order to ensure that she has acquired enough confidence to apply the skills unaided and also assist her develop adaptive capacity. I asked her to accompany me to three particular cases in order to observe her keenness and cultivate confidence in her newly acquired skills. In addition, I asked her to assist me once in a complicated delivery in order to see how she would adapt to working in an environment rife with complications that required ingenuity and adaptive skills. She was jittery at first in assisting the breech birth, but after some few words of encouragement rose to the occasion with excellent results for both mother and child.As part of my mentorship process, I was required to identify one area of interest in which I intended to major once I had graduated and sat for the nursing examination body exams. The National Healthcare Council and Midwifery and Nursing Council tests were severe and required one to be adequately qualified in a recognized University for the Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing. Paula was in the third year of her college education and intended on being registered as a level one registered nurse after graduating and sitting for the prerequisite examinations. However, she has not yet chosen her area of specialization. While discussing the subject one Monday evening, she hinted at maternity nursing being her first love but decided on critical care nursing later on after careful deliberation. However, she wanted to do it, the fact was that there was a lot of hard work ahead of her, and as her mentor in the short capacity then, it was my duty to surround her with as much of the situational awareness and learning environment as possible (Santucci, 2004).Later on, as we developed a strong bond after three weeks of intense learning and brainstorming activity, I decided to kick-start the next strategy I had in store for Paula. Her nursing mentorship was almost ending and she had surprised most of the mature female ward nurses with her capacity to absorb medical and nursing concepts as well as come up with the best solutions for even the most tasking situations (Maier and Shibles, 2011). I had planned to put her on intense brainstorming sessions using some complicated scenarios in the last week of her stay at the hospital culminating in my assessment of her progress. Not surprisingly, she did very well on all the questions we threw at her, even amazing the doctors with her collective ability to both identify diagnostic errors and remedy them accordingly. However, the real deal would be the exams ahead and her performance without the assistance of mentors like I and we made that well known to her.

Assessment strategies used in nursing mentorshipMentorship, at least in the medical and nursing trade, culminated in the mentor carefully assessing the learner’s abilities and acquired skills using a wide variety of methods available. Due to the practical nature of the nursing profession, the most efficient mode of assessment would be on case evaluation but that was impossible due to statutory regulations regarding non-qualified nurses and hospital insurance policies (McGee, 2009). However, there were no statutory regulations or policies against the mentorship personnel using near-authentic examples of cases on their learners without endangering the lives of real patients (Mentoring Nurses in Evidence-Based Projects, 2012). Therefore, I asked a couple of nurses to assist me make up five real-life scenarios of various degrees of seriousness and complexity. With these scenarios, Paula’s entire skill set would be put to the test using the nursing council’s propriety performance scales (Staunton and Chiarella, 2012). In addition, we made it well known to her that her performance in these exercises was going to influence her ongoing assessment record remarks and graduation.In addition to the particular test, we had prepared for Paula as part of the female ward, the other evaluation strategy we utilized on her was applying past examination material to her. As a university student, she was used to sitting for hours on end at a time reading troves of medical and nursing information. We did not want her to undergo such a harrowing experience on her mentorship. Therefore, I chose only some relevant material from the UK midwifery examinations body and applied them to her in order to assess her assimilation of the same material. Due to the complex nature of the review questions and scenarios, I ascertained that the strategy would provide not only an indication of her skills, knowledge, and applicative ability, but also her an aptitude with regards to the nursing profession. The last bit was important as part of my assessment in order to identify an accurate estimation of the career prospects of this young nurse in the making. So far, she had amazed most of the female ward’s nurses, and some felt that she had the aptitude for a far more challenging and complicated nursing field in medical fields such as neurology. One duty of the mentor is to ensure the learner not only succeeds in their current endeavor, but also achieves the highest goals they possibly can (Rassool, 2010). Therefore, I had to identify the young student’s aptitude in order to complete my assessment.Mentoring is not only about developing the skills the learner wants to acquire through training and practice. It also involved developing other skills that are relevant to the person’s career and job prosperity. The nursing practice is a very taxing medical field that a young professional could choose. The chances of encountering hard scenarios where one is expected to not only demonstrate a keen skill set honed by practice, but also other attributes such as sensitivity, counseling ability, and social skills (Smith, 2012). I devised a strategy where Paula would also develop her counseling skills using examples from real cases I was handling and requesting her to develop solutions after research. Therefore, she would identify the need to develop counseling skills as her career progressed. In addition, the need for psychological skills necessary in identifying some of the pre-existing mental aspects affecting the patient’s physical well-being was also emphasized (Thompson et al., 2013). The increasingly tense socio-economic times were influencing the mental health of patients to the extent of manifesting themselves in the physical states. Nurses frequently needed to possess a mental set of skills in order to identify psychological factors in some of the medical cases they handled and developed nursing-oriented approaches to solving them. Paula assimilated some notes I handed to her and demonstrated a good grasp of the use of these skills in detecting examples of mental factors such as tension and stress as causative agents of some medical conditions. The learner’s acquisition of these skills signaled the end of the process of imparting skills and knowledge through strategic mentorship and the start of the assessment process on paper.In conclusion, as I was completing my assessment of Paula on her OAR, I also realized the interaction with this promising nurse was beneficial to me as well. The learner had excelled in all her instruction and practice aspects. In addition, I had succeeded in assisting her to strengthen the objective of increasing her midwifery skill set. Although she would not be able to practice in a professional capacity for another two years, Paula looked forward to completing her academic instruction, and then pursues her professional education before starting her long, illustrious career as a nurse. Although she still held to the ambition of becoming a critical care nurse later in her professional career, I believed she would come round to the realization that she had more in her than just the CCN role. Until then, I would carry out my duty and recommend her for the highest scores in the ongoing assessment record with exemplary performance in nursing concepts, social skills, and academic potential. In addition, I also felt that her mentorship benefited me a lot since I got the chance to pull someone else up the social and professional ladder while growing in the process too.


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