Workplace mentor support for Foundation degree students: a hermeneutic phenomenological study

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Aims and objectives.This paper presents findings from a small piece of interpretive research into the lived experience of trained nurses who fulfilled the role of workplace mentors for Foundation degree students. The interprofessional landscape of workplace learning is also examined.Background.The participants were all employed in acute care settings in a large UK National Health Service hospital and provided mentorship to Healthcare Assistants studying the adult pathway of a Foundation degree in Health and Social Care; in preparation for the role of the Assistant Practitioner.Design.A purposive sample of eight workplace mentors (who had supported at least one Foundation degree student) were interviewed using a semi-structured questionnaire.Method.All interviews were audio recorded and subsequently transcribed. A hermeneutic phenomenological approach was used to uncover the lived experience of workplace mentors and 10 major themes were generated from the data.Results.The findings suggest that the mentorship of work-based learners presents mentors with a range of challenges that are quite different from pre-registration students given the situatedness of the learner in their clinical team.Conclusion.While the mentorship of work-based learners in busy clinical environments is challenging, the relationship between mentor and mentee appears to have greater equality due to the situatedness of the student in the clinical team. As a result workplace mentors seem to benefit from a relationship lacking in the hierarchical features that characterise traditional mentoring. Awareness of the unique experience of work-based learners and mentors needs to be raised, particularly where students are seeking to complete their Foundation degree to emerge as Assistant Practitioners.Relevance to clinical practice.Trained nurses undertaking the role of workplace mentor in support of Foundation degree students, do so to provide coaching that (in a developmental relationship), places them in the vanguard of an emerging professional group; the Assistant Practitioner.

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