5.1 Professional socialisation
Spouse (2000) identified four areas where the mentor can encourage professional socialisation within the practice learning environment:
- To organise and provide a menu of experiences available in the clinical area that are relevant to the student’s stage of study.
- To help the student identify areas of particular relevance studies in the curriculum to the current clinical environment.
- To help organise learning opportunities to other clinical areas or departments.
- To select suitable patients, carers and members from the multi-disciplinary team for the student to work with to develop identified skills.
The Royal College of Nursing Report (Rejon and Watts, 2014) reviews the evidence to support professional nurse socialisation and suggests that inter-professional learning alongside excellent mentorship can ensure a positive transition from student to registrant, helping to reduce attrition and enhance nurse socialisation. However, adequate staffing levels, adequate resources and support from nurse leaders within the clinical environment are key to ensuring this success (Masters, 2013). It is a requirement that ‘whilst giving direct care in the practice setting at least 40 per cent of the students time must be spent being supervised (directly or indirectly) by a mentor’ (NMC, 2008).
Activity 6 Who could help?
If you can, think about members of your immediate practice team and those within the wider multi-disciplinary team that you feel would be useful in sharing their expertise and knowledge in the student learning journey. Otherwise, try to think of teams that you have worked with.
- What learning opportunities can they offer to students in their learning?
- What information or preparation will you need to offer these members of staff to ensure the student has an effective learning experience?
This may include face-to-face discussions or emails highlighting the benefits to both the student and the member of staff, such as fulfilling continuing professional development hours, sharing expertise through a teaching session, possible reciprocal arrangements with their future students or learners. This may include specific target areas at different stages of the student nurse training that would be relevant to their particular learning outcomes and competencies to be achieved, a particular area/member of staff that provides an excellent role model, or a learning opportunity involving a particular specialised area that the student may be unlikely to have exposure to in the future. It also encourages collaborative working and awareness of others’ roles in the planning and delivery of care interventions.
In addition to organising individual and group interaction to help in the professional socialisation of the student, McKenzie (2010) argues that new technologies should also be utilised to help shape professional identity. Because online learning is now increasingly used in healthcare education, the mentor in clinical practice can use this as a learning strategy to allow the student to explore subject areas experienced in practice. Direction to appropriate web links, blogs or video clips can open up a range of alternative ideas and opinions that can then be discussed as part of the reflective learning process. Encouragement to engage in relevant professional group discussion forums will also enhance a sense of learning community.