Clinical placement mentor: Rosabell Ramesar
Clinical placement mentor Rosabell Ramesar explains her role as a mentor.
What makes a good mentor?
A mentor should be approachable, knowledgeable and confident; someone who is able to listen and offer feedback constructively, who will be honest with the student and is able to define the boundaries between personal and professional relationships. They should be able to teach and appreciate that every student will learn in different ways and at different paces. Knowing your student is paramount to developing a good, sound professional relationship.
What's the most challenging aspect of being a mentor?
The dilemmas often encountered by clinical workload and being able to make time to do portfolios activities, for example. Dealing with problem students and escalating concerns. Dealing with poor attitudes and lack of interest.
What difficulties/issues have you had/things would you change as a mentor?
Being able to give time to students for more formal work processes. Students need to be more proactive towards their learning needs. There needs to be a level of flexibility as well regarding both mentor and student. As a mentor, there should be a level of tolerance that is not found in all. There are some fantastic mentors.
What attributes in a student make them more or less likely to succeed while on clinical placement?
A student with a keen sense of interest and enthusiasm will encourage a mentor to teach. Someone who is willing to listen, reflect and learn from their experiences is also a positive attribute. Having disciplined work ethics as a student is important for self and for teamwork.
What would your advice be to students who are on or facing their clinical placement?
Have an awareness of the environment they are going into. Prepare themselves by reading around the area they are about to go into, for example ANC – read up about what the booking visit constitutes, research new clinical cases and scenarios encountered, ask questions, show they are interested and want to be there.
What issues might they come up against?
- Negativity from mentors and others unfortunately
- Workload constraints
- Some mentors are better at imparting information and therefore allowing for learning to take place
- Lack of continuity of mentors due to shift patterns (hence the need for flexibility where possible).
How effective are the simulation rooms in preparing student midwives for practice?
A lot of this is also student dependent in terms of seeing the relevance to practice. Additionally, as adult learners they need to supplement the simulation with additional reading so that it makes sense for relating theory to practice.
If you were honest, do you think that some students swap shifts and hence potentially mentors because of personal issues and therefore aren't helping themselves in their training?
Yes, this is known to happen. At my place I encourage students to speak to me if this is encountered. However, students do not want to develop a bad reputation and hence may not always speak up. This is something that does need to be re-enforced for their own benefit.
Do you think there is a big gap between theory and practice?
I think at times there is for a host of reasons.
What aspects of training best prepare students for becoming a newly qualified midwife?
Students need to have both theoretical and practical knowledge. This is the foundation. A personal perspective in relation to attitude, confidence, and mannerism does also contribute and can be an asset. Therefore, developing the individual and instilling these cannot be underestimated.