Exploring clinical mentoring of the students in the clinical settings as perceived and experienced by the student nurses and clinical mentors in a selected nursing college campus in Durban.
Mhlaba, Gertrude Thulisiwe.
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Background: Within nursing and other health professional education, clinical mentorship is an integral part of students’ clinical learning experiences. Clinical mentorship is a widely relied upon strategy to ensure that students benefits positively in the clinical placements and is perceived as not just as a support mechanism for students but also as the main vehicle for the activities associated with learning, teaching and assessment of practice. In South Africa, mentoring in the clinical settings is not yet formalized, there are no guidelines from the regulatory body to serve as a guide to mentors in clinical settings and mentors do not undergo special preparation and it is not yet a common practice in South African nursing. Purpose: This study was aimed at exploring and describing the phenomenon of clinical mentoring as perceived and experienced by the student nurses and clinical mentors in a selected hospital in Durban. Methodology: A qualitative approach guided by the naturalist interpretive paradigm was used in this study. The research designed used was a descriptive phenomenological approach. The total population for this study was 48 registered nurses working in medical and surgical wards at a selected nursing college campus in Durban, and 47 first and second year students who were doing the Diploma in Nursing (General, Psychiatry, Community) and Midwifery. The sample size consisted of eight mentors and eight mentees working at the selected wards in the selected hospital. Individual interviews were conducted to collect data. Findings: The findings revealed that mentorship in nursing education and training remains an integral part for student’s clinical learning experiences. The nature and vi quality of the relationship between the mentor and the student continues to be of vital important for an effective mentoring process. It emerged that the assistance and guidance that the clinical mentors are offering to students are most crucial for growth and the development of students and gain of quality clinical skills. While the befriending role of clinical mentors perceived as useful to facilitate students’ settling into the clinical milleu. The roles of mentors emerged as assisting, supporting, teaching, motivating, befriending and advising students. The ability to give feedback, experience, availability of time and a positive attitude were the elements considered important qualities for a good clinical mentor. The benefits of clinical mentoring outweighed the drawbacks. The benefits of mentoring were both for the student and for the mentor. For mentors, benefits were immaterial and included closer follow-up of new developments, teaching and sharing of experiences. For the students, benefits are based on the level and quality of grooming and nurturing students gets that help to bridge theory-practice gap, motivating students to be highly interested to what they do in the clinical settings. Challenges included limitations on time, shortage of resource, dual responsibilities of patient care and student teaching, high workload and lack of formalised mentoring programmes. Recommendations: This study suggests that the educational and clinical settings needs to work together to ensure that a formalised mentorship programme is put in place where clinical mentors will be trained for the role and formally appointed to the roles. Further research is suggested where the operational management staff of the organisations and academic college staff will participate to understand how mentoring is done in the clinical settings, and what criteria the clinical mentors use to measure the student performance who properly or poorly mentored.