All pre-registration nursing programmes in the UK have a component in clinical practice, where student nurses are supported by mentors. The role of these mentors is to support, teach and assess the student nurses whilst they are on clinical placement. In response to the findings by Duffy (2003) the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) developed then implemented the Standards to Support Learning and Assessment in Practice (SLAiP) (NMC, 2008). This implementation of the SLAiP (NMC, 2008) defined the standards at which all nurses and midwives become and maintain their status as a mentor across the United Kingdom therefore implying a level of consistency in the student nurses’ mentorship experience. Recent studies (Fitzgerald, Gibson & Gunn, 2010; Heaslip & Scammell, 2012, and Hunt et al. 2012), however, demonstrated similar issues originally highlighted by Duffy (2003) and, with the exception of Heaslip and Scammell (2010), examined mentorship only from a mentors’ perspective, the students’ experience was not explored. A recent unpublished qualitative study conducted within the researcher’s higher education institution also explored mentorship from a mentors’ perspective (Dickie, 2014) which recommended further research to explore the students’ experience of mentorship, supporting the need for this current study.
Mentorship is an essential component in supporting and enabling the registered nurses of the future to provide high quality nursing care to patients (Stuart, 2013), and given the limited recent literature which explores mentorship from a students’ perspective, the need for this research study was justified.