4. What makes a good mentor?

Activity 4.1

Think back over your life and identify one or two examples of people who have inspired you. What impact did this person have on you? What were the characteristics of this person? What do you feel you were able to learn from them?

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Research involving mentees and mentors has explored and identified various elements that contribute to or undermine successful mentoring relationships.

Activity 4.2

Watch the video below, produced by the NHS local learning platform, which shows two related interactions between an apprentice (Paul) and his mentor (Jane).

As you watch, make a note of the factors that might make a positive impact on their mentoring relationship.

Download this video clip.Video player: NHS. http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/doc/open-government-licence/version/3/
Skip transcript: NHS. http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/doc/open-government-licence/version/3/

Transcript: NHS. http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/doc/open-government-licence/version/3/

NARRATOR:
Student nurse, Paul Lawrence has been in training for the past two years. Today, he’s working for the elective surgery ward in the Alexandra Hospital in Redditch. He’s supervised by experienced nursing sister Jane Gascoigne who as his mentor is supporting his learning.
JANE GASCOIGNE:
Speaking to patient: How's your day Mr, Dry? I'm a sister nurse mentor, and I'm just observing Paul today, taking some blood pressures of patients on the ward.
MR DRY:
OK.
PAUL LAWRENCE:
Hello, Mr Dry. How are you?
MR DRY:
I'm good, thank you.
PAUL LAWRENCE:
My name is Paul I'm one of the student nurses. I need to check your blood pressure, if that's OK? Let me just clean this blood pressure cuff, for you.
JANE GASCOIGNE:
It's quite important, from an infection control point of view, that Paul is cleaning the cuff in between each patient. He's already gelled his hands and he's gained consent, as well, from Mr. Dry.
PAUL LAWRENCE:
Have you had any nausea, Mr Dry?
MR DRY:
No.
PAUL LAWRENCE:
No? That's lovely.
So, it's gonna get a little bit tight around the arm, OK?
MR DRY:
Yes, OK.
JANE GASCOIGNE:
During this time, Paul is assessing the patient, as well. checking he hasn't got any nausea or pain, and that he is comfortable. Paul is assessing the patient; having a rapport with him, watching his face; any sort of grimace that he might have, experiencing any pain or nausea. It's a crucial time that a nurse has with a patient.
So, now Paul has taken Mr Dry's observation chart and he needs to now record this, accurately, making sure he's got the time and the date in the right place. It's important that he is aware that he can take a manual pulse, as well, so he is, hopefully, feeling the strength of the pulse, to make sure it is a regular pulse.
PAUL LAWRENCE:
That's a good, strong, regular pulse.
MR DRY:
Good
JANE GASCOIGNE:
Paul has reassured his patient that everything is fine. Sometimes, if there isn't feedback, they might be a little bit concerned.
PAUL LAWRENCE:
I'm happy with that, thank you, I'll pass everything on to sister.
JANE GASCOIGNE:
That was good. How do you feel about it?
PAUL LAWRENCE:
I should have really taken the gentleman's arm out of his sleeve, rather than rolling it up.
JANE GASCOIGNE:
It would have been easier, but at least you realised. You did your observations, very well. You've checked the patents details are correct, you put the date in, you've timed it, correctly. You've observed that all your parameters are within normal range, for him. Respiratory rate you did while you were doing the manual pulse, as well.
PAUL LAWRENCE:
The pulse was quite strong, and regular.
JANE GASCOIGNE:
So you're aware of that, that's good. You also looked back at the previous observations so you had an idea of what their climbing at. You signed it at the bottom, as well, so that's very good.
NARRATOR:
For Jane, being able to inspire students is something she finds very rewarding.
JANE GASCOIGNE:
I absolutely love it. and I've been qualified for a long time, so I want a student to appreciate that love, as well. It sounds a bit corny, but I want them to enjoy the job as much as I do.
NARRATOR:
Mentoring boosts students' reflective learning and encourages best practice.
PAUL LAWRENCE:
I can get you some Paracetamol, now, but I'll go check with sister to make sure that's correct, for you.
NARRATOR:
It's also a mandatory requirement for all pre-registration nursing students.
JANE GASCOIGNE:
So did you establish, Paul, on what kind of pain level he had?
PAUL LAWRENCE:
No, I didn't, sister.
JANE GASCOIGNE:
So, you might want to think about what level his pain is, and obviously, what scale it is. Have you checked his wound?
PAUL LAWRENCE:
No, I haven't, sister.
JANE GASCOIGNE:
He needs to observe the patients wound because there are lots of complications he needs to be aware of. He also needs to access patient pain threshold.
PAUL LAWRENCE:
It doesn’t look inflamed and it's a clean dressing. On a scale of 1 to 3, how painful would you say it is?
PATIENT:
I'd say it's a 2.
JANE GASCOIGNE:
I’m glad you went back and talked to him about his level of pain because you just need to be aware of the fact that when a patient says they're in pain you need to establish what threshold of pain he has, does it require morphine.
PAUL LAWRENCE:
That's why I thought I would speak to you first and make sure.
JANE GASCOIGNE:
Great, that's good. He says that it's not extreme pain, so that's good. Obviously, if the Paracetamol doesn't work, we could perhaps decide later whether he needs an alternative.
PAUL LAWRENCE:
Yes, OK, no problem.
NARRATOR:
As an experienced mentor, Jane's up to speed with the latest NMC standards to support learning and assessment in practice; something Paul Lawrence is thankful for.
JANE GASCOIGNE:
No problems there, at all. Good interaction.
PAUL LAWRENCE:
Thank you, sister.
End transcript: NHS. http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/doc/open-government-licence/version/3/
NHS. http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/doc/open-government-licence/version/3/
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Eller et al. (2014) conducted an extensive research study with students and their mentors from various academic disciplines, including natural sciences, nursing/health sciences, engineering, and technology.

As a result of this, it was concluded that the behaviours considered helpful for effective mentoring relationships can be categorised into eight key areas:

Figure 1 The key components of effective mentoring relationships (adapted from Eller et al., 2014, p. 817)

Activity 4.3

Now revisit the video clip in the previous activity and identify where you feel each of the components shown above can be observed in this mentoring relationship.

Key components of an effective mentoring relationship Observed factors from the video clip

 

Open communication and accessibility

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Goals and challenges

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Passion and inspiration

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Caring personal relationship

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Mutual respect and trust

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Exchange of knowledge

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Independence and collaboration

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Role modelling

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Feedback

The table below shows some possible observations, but you may have others:

Key components of an effective mentoring relationship Observed factors from the video clip
Open communication and accessibility

Jane, the mentor, is available throughout the time the student, Paul, is carrying out the observations. Jane encourages open communication by asking how Paul felt the intervention had gone. There is good eye contact between Jane and Paul during the post-observation discussion, and she uses positive prompts such as nodding and smiling.

Goals and challenges

Jane sets Paul a new set of goals when she explores with him whether he has sufficient information to make a decision about appropriate pain relief for the patient. She indicates the need to establish the patient’s reported level of pain and to check his wound.

Passion and inspiration Jane highlights her considerable experience as a registered nurse and her real desire, even though it might sound ‘corny’, to inspire her students so that they enjoy nursing as much as she does.
Caring personal relationship

Paul is unsure about the best way of managing the second patient’s pain. He has no hesitation in seeking his mentor’s advice, suggesting that he values the relationship and feels supported by it.

Mutual respect and trust

Paul appears to be comfortable when discussing aspects of care that he has initially missed. This indicates that he believes Jane will not respond in a punitive way. Instead, she will enable and encourage him to find solutions to his patient’s pain problem. Jane gives Paul pointers as to his next actions, but she trusts him to know how to assess the patient’s pain level and to check his wound. She trusts and respects that he will carry out the interventions correctly.

Exchange of knowledge

Jane discusses the process of recording observations with Paul, which enables him to highlight what he knows – for example, the importance of a strong, regular pulse, and that removing the patient’s arm from his sleeve might have been a better alternative.

Independence and collaboration

Jane allows Paul to take the blood pressure without interruption, encouraging independence. They work closely together to determine the best approach for managing the second patient’s pain.

Role modelling

Jane explains to the first patient that she is there to observe the students, thus role modelling the importance of offering explanations to patients. Paul mirrors the approach by explaining to the patient the outcome of taking his pulse manually. Jane consistently presents herself in a professional manner, both in appearance and behaviour. She demonstrates a calm, assured approach that reassures the students she supports.

5. Useful mentoring skills