The NMC (2006) recommend that a student should spend a minimum of 40% of their time each week being supervised by their mentor. Supervision can mean working one to one with their mentor or being on the same shift, working alongside others but being supervised in their activity by their mentor.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much time should mentors and students spend working together?
I am going to be on holiday for part of my student’s placement with us - how does I ensure that the student is mentored in my absence?
Students can be allocated a key mentor to supervise their overall placement experience and facilitate their learning. The student can also work with allocated co-mentors or associate mentors to enable them to develop their clinical knowledge and skills. The “mentoring team” can contribute to the ongoing support and review of the student’s progress.
What should I do if the student has childcare problems and can only do late shifts and no weekends. How should I respond?
Please refer this student to their personal tutor or Link Tutor as students are required to experience the 7 days a week, 24 hours a day nature of nursing practice and will therefore undertake a range of shift patterns, including weekends and night duty. It is important to recognise that there are different shift patterns across the practice placement areas and students are normally expected to adopt the shift pattern of their allocated practice placement area.
What do I do if my student goes off sick whilst on placement?
For general enquiries about student absence please refer to the LIP website which has contact details for the staff who monitor sickness and absence. It is important that mentors ensure that the students’ sickness & absence record is up-to-date and signed with an accurate account of hours worked. If a student is reported as absent then the mentor must cross through that day as absent on the off duty. If a student is absent for a significant time i.e. greater than 30 hours, the student should inform the Link Lecturer or Practice Education Facilitator. If mentors have concerns that the objectives cannot be achieved due to their absence the student will proceed to the next placement on an action plan and may have to make up time at the end of the course.
Can students negotiate their annual leave while on placement?
No, students have to follow the 3-year programme, which has timetabled Annual Leave dates. Mentors should alert the university if a student takes unauthorised leave which has not been allocated.
Can students be used to "fill gaps" in the ward/practice placement establishment?
Please note that in line with NMC guidelines students are not employees and therefore cannot be used to “fill gaps” in the planned off duty or replace a member of staff.
What does “supernumerary” status mean in practice?
Student nurses are additional to the established workforce numbers and they should not be counted as part of the normal staffing numbers. Clearly, students have to learn the art of nursing and need to be involved in direct patient care under the supervision of an appropriately qualified practitioner. As part of the care team, students may undertake any aspect of care for which they are competent and it is the mentors’ responsibility to assess the student’s level of competence.
Where can I get guidance on student documentation?
Guidance about using the Mentor Practice Assessment Document (MOPAD) or Ongoing Achievement Record (OAR) is available on the LIP website as well as from any of the Pre-Registration Nursing Faculty or the Link Tutor for the practice placement area. Contact details for Link Tutors are available in your practice area.
How can I get help if not sure if a competency has been met?
If there is uncertainty that a competency/learning outcome has not been met please contact either your Link Tutor or Practice Education Facilitator for guidance.
Who should I contact if I have concerns about a student?
In the first instance it is best to discuss this with the nurse in charge of the placement to seek their guidance and make them aware of the situation. If the concerns remain unresolved contact the Link Tutor and/or Practice Education Facilitator as early as possible. It is important that you and your student get support when there are concerns about a student’s progress. Documentation to support this is part of the assessment process, and the Interim Interview is also an essential opportunity to discuss with your student how they are progressing in development of knowledge and skills in their placement experience. Where appropriate the student needs the opportunity to have an action plan to develop their knowledge and skills and resolve concerns. Clear achievable objectives need to be agreed with the student and ongoing feedback given. It is important to pursue the issue to ensure that the student has every opportunity to improve their performance.
What should I do if a student becomes involved in potential disciplinary investigations within the clinical area?
Contact your Link Tutor, the student’s personal tutor or the Practice education Facilitator for your area.
What happens if a student fails a placement?
The Link Tutor and Practice Education Facilitator should be involved as soon possible when there are any concerns about a student’s progress and possibility that they may not meet their learning outcomes or competencies. They will be able to offer support and guidance to both the mentor and the student.
In this situation it is important that the concerns, and the interventions to support the student, are documented (and counter signed by the student) to demonstrate the evidence used to inform and support the decision. This should include an objective account of your (and other team members’) concerns regarding progress, any action plans devised to help the student develop their knowledge and skills, and a detailed list of all of the NMC competencies that the student has failed to achieve.
Depending on the type of placement (formative or summative) the student will be placed on an action plan. If the placement has been a FORMATIVE placement then the student will progress to the next placement on an “Amber Action Plan” and the placement area, Mentor and Practice Education Facilitator will be notified. Whilst on an amber action plan the student will have the opportunity to address the outstanding competencies.
If the student fails a SUMMATIVE placement they are given a “Red Action Plan” and have 20 working days (shifts) to recoup the fail. If, at the end of the additional time the student still has not achieved then he/she will be discontinued from the course.
During this time it is important for mentors to know that they will be supported on a regular (usually weekly) basis by the Link Tutor. Our experience is that these weekly meetings ensure that the mentor is supported and that there is no ambiguity in the message that the student gets. Often students are able to recoup on a red action plan but in some instances this is not possible. In this case the weekly meetings provide a clear “paper trail” of evidence should the student wish to appeal their discontinuation from the course.
Can nursing/midwifery students administer medication covered by a Patient Group Direction (PGD)?
No the NMC guidance says "The law states that only registered nurses may supply and administer a PGD, this cannot be delegated to any other person, including students".