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Student nurses’ perceptions of peer mentorship in clinical settings.

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Novice student nurses face many challenges when making the transition to clinical learning because of the complex and unpredictable nature of the clinical settings. Adequate support of students in clinical placements and positive clinical experiences can increase students’ enthusiasm and retention in the profession. Nursing schools use peer mentoring to provide a supportive and non-threatening learning environment for students thus facilitating professional growth and development of student nurses in clinical settings. The KZNCN has a student peer-monitoring programme whereby the third year student nurses are assigned to be peer mentors for the first year students thereby facilitating transition through provision of orientation, guidance, support, accompaniment and teaching basic clinical skills. The aim of the study was to explore and describe the perceptions of student nurses on peer mentorship in order to enhance the quality of the peer mentorship programme in the clinical setting. A quantitative, non-experimental descriptive design was used to achieve the research objectives. All 210 student nurses doing the four year diploma course were invited to participate in the study. A sample size of 170 (66 mentors and 104 mentees) eligible and willing students was conveniently obtained. Fifty six participated as mentors and ninety-four as mentees in the main study. Ten students from each cohort were utilized for pilot study and did not form part of the main study. Data was collected using self - administered questionnaires that were developed from reviewed literature. Descriptive and inferential statistics were used to analyse data. Study findings revealed that mentees should be actively involved in clinical practice and should engage in personal relationships with experienced individuals in order to learn about the profession and promote professional socialisation. The development of leadership and teaching skills, self-confidence, independence and increased ability to perform clinical skills emerged as benefits of engaging in the programme. Despite notable gains from peer mentoring, this study highlighted that the students experienced a number of challenges that impacted negatively on peer mentoring in clinical settings. These barriers include, inter alia, insufficient practice opportunities for the students because of the short duration of the placement, time and resource constraints and mentoring too many students at the same time. The questionnaires had three open-ended questions, the common responses that emerged were grouped and quantitatively analysed into percentages. A total of 15.9 percent (n = 15) mentees expressed gratitude and appreciation for having worked with senior and experienced nurses on their first days. They appreciated the support and assistance they got from mentors. Based on the findings, it is suggested that the peer mentoring programme should be embedded in the nursing college retention strategy with an intention to improve formalization and structuring of the programme.


Master of Nursing. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban 2016.


Theses -- Nursing.