On my previous placement I was on a busy gastro ward that was understaffed and had a constantly changing off-duty (The schedule of nurse’s hours which is released weekly) and an unfortunately timed annual-leave meant I spent more than half my time on the ward without a mentor. I found this both a help and a hindrance in equal measure.
My Mentor’s absence meant that I was a “free agent”, I could help any nurse at any time, I could move between the 3 bays on the 28-bed ward as opposed to being attached to one, I was always asking for jobs that I could do or nurses would offer to teach me new skills if there was an opportunity. I ended up “doing more” than other girls on my placement because I was far more available than if I was more associated directly with a mentor and I loved being kept busy for my whole shift.
However being on my new placement has allowed me to see more clearly the negative aspects of this lack of a clear and constant mentor. I spend my hours between a mixture of clinics and a day surgery ward, specialising in Ophthalmics and Maxillofacial conditions and traumas so each case varies from the next and we move around the hospital quite a bit. My new Mentor (let’s call her Ann for confidentialities sake) really took the time to get to know me in my first shift both personally and professionally which allowed her to get a good feel for my strengths and weaknesses and what I could learn from this new placement. She introduced me to all the staff, showed me round the ward and explained what her working week is usually like and what her duties were.
Since this initial meeting Ann has been constantly feeding back to me about my progression, offering any available opportunities to me like spokes for example (these are days spent in different areas of practice or in extra-curricular educational training organised by your trust). This open dialogue between us has allowed me to learn so much more from her as a one-on-one basis that I didn’t really experience in my previous placement. This placement is much quieter than my last ward so getting acclimatised to this different aspect of nursing has been tricky for me, as I prefer a ward-based layout, but Ann has made me feel so welcome and supported it shows what a difference a good mentor can make and she is a prime example of what a great mentor is.