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While student nurses were previously supported by qualified mentors while on clinical placement, they will now be supported by a wider range of professionals, including newly qualified nurses
Student mentors are being replaced with the new role of practice supervisor, which means newly qualified nurses are likely to play a central role in supporting students early in their career. They will work closely with practice and academic assessors, and their clinical observations, judgments and feedback will contribute to the clinical practice assessment of students. This will require nurses to develop a range of skills and attributes to enable them to support students.
Citation: Davis H (2020) What are the expectations of newly qualified nurses as practice supervisors? Nursingtimes.net, 05/10/2020.
Author: Helen Davis is assistant lecturer, Department for Children and Young People’s Health, Birmingham City University.
Throughout your pre-registration education and training you will have become familiar with the roles of mentor and sign-off mentor. September 2019’s enrolment of new pre-registration nurses, however, marked the point at which these roles began to be phased out.
The Nursing and Midwifery Council introduced new education standards, meaning universities across the country are rolling out a new curriculum (NMC, 2018a; NMC, 2018b; NMC, 2018c). For a period of time there will be two different courses running alongside each other as we make the transition to the new curriculum, and therefore university-taught content, practice assessment documents, competencies and expectations may vary.
Regions across the UK are forming groups to standardise practice documents, such as the Midlands, Yorkshire and East of England Practice Learning Group. Nonetheless, the overall outcome of developing competent, effective, safe and efficient nurses remains. The standards bring about significant change to pre-registration nurse education and it will be important for you to understand this in order to support student nurses appropriately.
Previously, depending on your local area, as a newly qualified nurse you may not have been allocated a student nurse to work with for some time. However, the new role of practice supervisor means you are more likely to play a central role in supporting students much earlier on. You will work closely with practice and academic assessors, and your clinical observations, judgments and feedback will contribute to the clinical practice assessment of students.
What will my role be as a practice supervisor?
As a practice supervisor you will coach, teach, supervise and provide constructive feedback to student nurses (NMC, 2018c). The new model creates a much stronger partnership between academic and clinical practice, reflecting the 50:50 course component. You will work alongside practice and academic assessors in supporting students on a daily basis and provide feedback on their performance to both the practice assessors and students themselves. It is recognised that providing constructive feedback is not easy and you may find you need support in developing this skill (Duffy, 2012).
Practice assessors must be experienced, NMC-registered nurses who are allocated students to oversee during a clinical placement. This role will be supported by the practice supervisor, which is a role any qualified health professional can take on, even if they have only recently qualified themselves; therefore you will be more likely to be involved with pre-registration nurses a lot sooner than newly qualified nurses are presently. The way different healthcare providers organise student supervision will vary, so you will need to familiarise yourself with your own organisation’s policies.
There are numerous attributes that practice supervisors need to develop:
- Being aware of student support within the organisation;
- Providing regular feedback on the student’s practice;
- Acting as a supervisor, role model, coach, teacher and facilitator;
- Keeping up to date with education changes;
- Providing constructive written and verbal feedback;
- Demonstrating best practice;
- Encouraging students to take responsibility for their own learning;
- Delegating appropriately;
- Supporting specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely (SMART) goal setting;
- Being aware of learning opportunities in the organisation and local area;
- Raising any concerns early;
- Providing regular, constructive feedback to the practice assessor;
- Accessing resources and training to develop skills;
- Being aware of key people in the practice education team and practice placement manager;
- Being aware of the limitations of the students they supervise.
You will not be expected to make the final assessment decision on a student’s performance as a practice supervisor; however your feedback will contribute to this decision-making process. This is an additional layer of responsibility for you as a newly qualified nurse, and you are also in a unique position to support student nurses, having recently been through the training yourself.
Will I get any training on being a practice supervisor?
Unlike previously, when registered nurses have attended accredited courses to become qualified mentors, these new standards do not outline training as a requirement. Local trusts will therefore need to offer specific training for this new role as they are responsible for ensuring staff are appropriately trained. It will be important to ensure you familiarise yourself with and access this support.
Aside from this, a good place to start is the NMC website, where there is a wealth of information to digest. Don’t forget you will be working alongside experienced colleagues, who will be able to guide and support you, and your preceptorship programme may also incorporate training into the programme.