Facilitating learning in practice
Facilitating learning in practice

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Facilitating learning in practice

1 Prioritising competing demands

Described image
Figure 1 Competing demands

Figure 1 is a photograph depicting a nurse mentor at a desk full of paperwork, taking a telephone call and reading a document. The student nurse is sitting beside her, reading notes and waiting for the nurse mentor to finish her call.

Health care organisations experience rapid and constant change that often involves restructuring or reorganising services. A study conducted by McIntosh et al. (2013) concluded that mentors report a number of challenges in relation to their roles, which is dominated by ‘the increasing complexity of healthcare services and by the diverse spread of students’ learning needs’ (p. 364). These challenges need to be recognised and managed to ensure that the student is provided with opportunities to develop and achieve required mentorship competencies.

The following activity will help you to consider potential demands and how these could be managed.

Activity 1 Identifying your potential demands

Allow 20 minutes
  • Compile a list of potential demands that you feel may impact on a mentor role.
  • For each demand, think about the ways in which you could address it.


You may have listed many or only a few demands, but it is important to be aware of potential demands so that strategies can be considered and implemented as and when issues arise.

You may have identified some of the potential demands below:

  • sufficient numbers of appropriately trained mentors
  • staff shortages/sickness
  • changes in placement dates for students
  • completion of assessment documentation
  • access to mentor updates
  • workload (such as unplanned interventions, changes in patient/client care)
  • needing to focus on competencies/ tasks
  • access to supervision/support
  • access to appropriate resources.

These are only a few of the demands that may impact on your role as a mentor, and you will have identified areas that are particularly relevant to your practice environment. Robinson et al. (2012) suggest that challenges to mentorship should be considered in a collaborative environment involving managers, educators, link lecturers, health care organisation education leads, mentors and students. The research identifies the concept of a mentor ‘hinterland’ that consists of a partnership of all of the above and the ‘availability of resources to fund posts, course fees, study leave and staff time’ (Robinson, 2013, p. 25). However, it is evident that restructuring services and changes to personnel can both impede continuity.

Mentorship programme

If you are completing these learning materials as part of an NMC preparation programme, you should discuss your list and strategies from Activity 1 with your supervisor. As part of your protected learning time, write a reflection to be included within your portfolio considering an episode where competing demands challenged your role in helping students to learn. Analyse the learning from this in order to compile an action plan for your future mentor role.

As a mentor it is important to establish networks to help in developing strategies to overcome competing demands, remembering that a team approach generates more ideas and has more influence than one person. Within previous weeks of learning you have been encouraged to seek out other people, in practice, management, and education, who can help and inform your mentorship role. These relationships are fundamental to your progression as a mentor and helping to lead best practice in your area. Their importance means that it is important to maintain these key relationships. In addition, it is important that working relationships are established with newly appointed staff to foster and facilitate mentoring


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