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
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