The concept ‘mentoring’ in nursing is not a new concept as such and has probably been used in a variety of situations and given many interpretations. In healthcare, mentoring is aimed at facilitating professional learning and it enables a student nurse to gain clinical skills during practice placements (Gopee 2008:7). In the psychiatric clinical learning environment, unit managers play a vital role regarding student nurses’ attainment of clinical skills during their practical placements. Lack of mentoring can adversely affect the student nurses’ ability to achieve clinical learning outcomes and this will affect their competency as professional nurses at the end of their training. The aim of this study was to explore and describe the perceptions of the student nurses and unit managers in a specific public psychiatric hospital regarding the mentoring role of unit managers within a psychiatric clinical learning environment. The objectives of the study were to explore and describe the perceptions of student nurses regarding the mentoring role of unit managers within the psychiatric clinical learning environment, to explore and describe the perceptions of unit managers regarding their mentoring role within the psychiatric clinical learning environment and to make recommendations to enhance the mentoring of student nurses by unit managers in a psychiatric clinical learning environment. A qualitative, exploratory and descriptive research design was utilized to address the aim and objectives outlined. Semi-structured focus group interviews were conducted separately with a purposefully selected sample of unit managers and student nurses. The data analysis was guided by the constant comparative method of qualitative data analysis of Tesch (1990:113). The process of transforming data into research results led to the emergence of the following themes for student nurses and unit managers: mentoring as a concept, expectations of the mentoring role, enabling factors of mentoring, disabling factors of mentoring and plans to enhance mentoring. Though the two groups of participants were interviewed separately common perceptions emerged in relation to the themes identified. Mentoring as a concept was viewed as a process of teaching, guiding, supporting, leading, supervision, role-modeling and assistance by an experienced, knowledgeable unit manager. Regarding expectations of the mentoring role, participants were of the opinion that unit managers were not prepared for this role through specific training, but used their experience, to guide student nurses. Furthermore, they perceived it as one of the unit manager’s responsibilities. Disabling factors of mentoring encompassed lack of student nurses’ theoretical background knowledge in psychiatric nursing science, unit managers’ lack of knowledge of advancement in the educational arena, the attitudes of student nurses and unit managers, lack of unit managers’ preparation for mentoring, organizational problems and lack of communication between nurse educators and unit managers. Enabling plans for mentoring encompassed training of unit managers for the mentoring role, theoretical preparation of student nurses prior to placement for psychiatric clinical learning experience, student nurses and unit managers to change their attitude addressing organisational problems and enhanced collaboration between educational and clinical facilities. Recommendations were made regarding nursing practice, nursing education and nursing research for future improvements on the mentoring role of unit managers in the psychiatric clinical learning environment.
Dissertation (MCur)--University of Pretoria, 2011.