Assessment matters—mentors need support in their role

Maggie Bennett, Brian McGowan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


AbstractBackground: In the UK the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) standards to support learning and assessment in practice state that mentors are responsible and accountable for the assessment of pre-registration nursing students in practice. This study was undertaken to explore mentors’ experience of assessing nursing students in practice post implementation of the NMC standards. Method: Five focus groups were conducted with mentors (N=35) who had assessed adult pre-registration nursing students in the previous 12 months. The focus groups were recorded, transcribed and analysed to generate categories. Results: Five categories were identified from the data: Changing roles and responsibilities; Exploring the past to understand the present; Just knowing; The odds; Time to mentor. The findings highlighted that mentors were aware of their role and responsibility for the assessment of students in practice. However, many felt this was a new responsibility and role in which they lacked experience. Some existing mentors felt that they may not have had the necessary preparation to effectively assess students in practice and identified their need for support. Conclusion: Given that mentors are expected to be competent assessors of students in practice and protect the public through gate-keeping professional registration, this study suggests that serious consideration should be given to how mentors are prepared and the ongoing support and education they receive in assessment.Key words: Mentors ■ Experience ■ Assessment ■ Support ■ Knowing
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)454-458
JournalBritish Journal of Nursing
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 8 May 2014

Bibliographical note

Reference text: Beskine D (2009) Mentoring students: establishing effective working relationships. Nurs Stand 23(30): 35-40
Bradbury-Jones, C, Sambrook S, Irvine F (2007) The meaning of empowerment for nursing students: a critical incident study. J Adv Nurs 59(4): 342-51
Bradshaw A, Merriman C (2008) Nursing competence 10 years on: fit for practice and purpose yet? J Clin Nurs 17: 1263-9 doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2702.2007.02243.x.
Bray L, Nettleton P (2007) Assessor or mentor? Role confusion in professional education. Nurse Educ Today 27: 848-55
Cohen L, Manion L, Morrison K (2003) Research Methods in Education. 5th edn. Routledge Falmer, London.
Darling L (1984) What do nurses want in a mentor? J Nurs Adm 14(10): 42-4
Duffy K (2003) Failing Students: A Qualitative Study of Factors that influence the Decisions Regarding Assessment of Students. NMC, London (accessed 22 April 2014)
Fitzgerald M, Gibson F, Gunn K (2010) Contemporary issues relating to assessment of pre-registration nursing students in practice. Nurse Educ Pract 10: 158-63 doi: 10.1016/j.nepr.2009.06.001. Epub 2009
Gainsbury S (2010) Nurse mentors still “failing to fail” students [news story and survey results on link]. (accessed 22 April 2014)
Hallin K, Danielson E (2010) Preceptoring nursing students: Registered Nurses’ perceptions of nursing students’ preparation and study approaches in clinical education. Nurse Educ Pract 30: 296-30
Holland K, Roxburgh M, Johnson M et al (2010) Fitness for practice in nursing and midwifery education in Scotland, United Kingdom. J Clin Nurs 19: 461-9 doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2702.2009.03056.x.
Hunt LA, McGee P, Gutteridge R, Hughes M (2012) Assessment of student nurses in practice: Assessment of student nurses in practice: A comparison of theoretical and practical assessment results in England. Nurse Educ Today 32: 351-5 doi: 10.1016/j.nedt.2011.05.010.
Huybrecht S, Loeckx W, Quaeyhaegens Y, De Tobel D, Mistiaen W (2011) Mentoring in nursing education: Perceived characteristics of mentors and the consequences of mentorship. Nurse Educ Today 31: 274-8 doi: 10.1016/j.nedt.2010.10.022 (Epub 2010)
Krueger RA (1994) Focus Groups: a Practical Guide for Applied Research. SAGE Publications, Thousand Oaks, California.
Lauder W, Watson R, Holland K et al (2008) An evaluation of fitness for practice curricula: self-efficacy, support and self-reported competence in preregistration student nurses and midwives. J Clin Nurs 17: 1858-67 doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2702.2007.02223.x
McCarthy B, Murphy S (2008) Assessing undergraduate nursing students in clinical practice: Do preceptors use assessment strategies? Nurse Educ Today 28: 301-13
Munhall PL (2010) Ethical considerations in qualitative research. Ch 20 in Nursing Research: A Qualitative Perspective. 5th edn. Jones & Bartlett Learning International, London
Newell R, Burnard P (2011) Research for Evidence-Based Practice in Healthcare. 2nd edn. Blackwell Publishing Oxford
Norman IJ, Watson R, Murrells T, Calman L, Redfern S (2002) The validity and reliability of methods to assess the competence to practise of pre-registration nursing and midwifery students. Int J Nurs Stud 39: 133-45
Nursing and Midwifery Council (2008a) Standards to support learning and assessment in practice. NMC standards for mentors, practice teachers and teachers. 2nd edn. NMC, London
Nursing and Midwifery Council (2008b) The Code: Standards of conduct, performance and ethics for nurses and midwives. NMC, London
Nursing and Midwifery Council (2010) Raising concerns. Guidance for nurses and midwives. NMC, London
O’Callaghan N, Slevin E (2003) An investigation of the lived experiences of registered nurses facilitating supernumerary nursing students. Nurse Educ Today 23: 123-30
Watson R (2002) Clinical competence: Starship Enterprise or straitjacket? Nurse Educ Today 22: 476-80
Willis Commission on Nursing Education (2012) Quality with Compassion: The Future of Nursing Education. (accessed 22 April 2014)
Yanhua C, Watson R (2011) A review of clinical competence assessment in Nursing. Nurse Educ Today 31: 832-6 doi: 10.1016/j.nedt.2011.05.003.


Dive into the research topics of 'Assessment matters—mentors need support in their role'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this