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Aim of the paper. To examine the extent to which preregistration nursing and midwifery students have contact with their named mentor, and the implications of this.Mentorship has an important part to play in enabling preregistration nursing and midwifery students to gain the maximum benefit from clinical placements. Previous research has indicated that the benefits of mentorship to learners are related to the number of occasions on which the student and mentor work together.A research project commissioned by the Sheffield and North Trent College of Nursing and Midwifery (now the University of Sheffield School of Nursing and Midwifery) provided an opportunity to examine the extent to which their named mentors were available to Project 2000 students, and the implications of this. Students and their named mentors were asked to keep an activity diary for 1 week. The main objective was to collect activity data to inform an analysis of the costs and benefits of clinical placements to service providers. This cost-benefit study has been published elsewhere. However, the data also cast light on the extent to which mentors were available to students, and the implications of this, and it is these findings which are presented here.Students frequently worked shifts without their named mentors even though unrostered students often worked weekends, evening and night shifts in order to maximize time spent with their mentors. In the mentor’s absence, other members of staff covered for some of their activities (in particular, direct and indirect supervision of students). However, students whose named mentors were absent spent significantly less time than other students working with a qualified member of staff as a partner in giving care.It is suggested that the extent to which named mentors are unavailable to Project 2000 students may be detrimental to the education and professional development of those students.