Aim. To explore the unregistered healthcare worker’s role and influence onstudent nurses’ clinical learning experience.Background. Across the developed world, the role of the unregistered worker isexceeding its traditional boundaries. Evidence suggests that this includes the dayto-day mentoring of pre-registration student nurses. However, no research to datehas explored reasons as to why this is occurring, what types of tasks are taught,and the consequence of this.Design. A sequential exploratory mixed method research design was adopted.Method. Reporting on the final qualitative phase of a mixed method sequentialresearch study, semi-structured interviews were undertaken with 59 unregisteredhealthcare workers across four hospitals in Northern Ireland. Transcriptions wereanalysed using a content analysis approach; all data were collected in 2010.Results. Findings show the diversity of the unregistered healthcare workers’ rolesand confirm that they play a major part in the education of student nurses withregards to basic, clinical, and non-clinical tasks, with and without the approval ofregistered staff. However, their involvement did not reflect their levels ofexpertise as evidenced by certified training. Their participation was justified basedon mentor unavailability, their closeness to the student and the patient. Whilesome did raise concerns, they recommended that these workers be formallyinvolved in nurse education.Conclusion. Mechanisms of workforce planning need to pay particular attentionto the expanding role of unregistered healthcare workers as ‘role drift’ has thepotential to alter patterns of work and affect current educational approachesimpacting on the acquisition of clinical skills. Further research is recommended inthis domain.