Mentors have such a massive impact on your experience as a student midwife. They can be the difference between finishing the course and throwing the towel in and leaving (I’ve been there with the latter, but I picked myself back up again). From the point of view as a (now) experienced midwife, I can see that mentor’s don’t always have the best support from their practise facilitator and, as a result, are sometimes not as conducive to a learning environment as the student may hope.
To show the shoe on another foot, mentors haven’t always completed the “Sign off mentor’s CPD” course at University, but please don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t mean your mentor is incapable. However, sometimes we find it hard to pitch our training to the right level when only working with a student for a shift or two. And it takes us a while to get a feel of where a student is at with their placement and development. So the first thing you can do is humour us, just give us chance to get to know you. We want you to succeed but we don’t want to be telling a granny how to suck eggs! Let us hold your hand for a little bit until we know where your strengths and weaknesses are. At the end of the day, you are working on our pins and we are very conscious of that.
To get the most out of your “work-buddy” tell us what experience you’ve had. Inform us of your previous mentors so we can have a feel for the type of mentorship you’ve received previously. If you have a log book, let us read not only the information from your last placement but also from the last time you worked in this clinical area, and make sure we see what competencies your trying to achieve. It is SO hard to make a meaningful placement when your mentor isn’t sure of what your goals are. There is nothing worse than sitting down at the end of the placement and seeing competencies that we didn’t cover. And yes, some of them are very obscure, so make sure both you and your mentor know about them.
Mentors really want you to enjoy working with them, having a student is a wonderful experience when you are a dream team. When you are qualified you will remember the best and the worst mentors and we really want there to be more good than bad. If you research the “6 C’s”, it’s a framework that the NHS works by following controversy in Morcambe Bay maternity services and Mid-Staffordshire enquiry. But most of them can be applied to your learning. (If you would you like to read the Morecambe Bay Report CLICK HERE)
Communicate with your mentor, help each other give the best care to the women and be compassionate. Work to become competent in your practise, be brave and don’t be afraid to do a little of what scares you. And finally be committed in what you do, being a midwife is bl***y hard work, and you need to be in it 110% to get to the end.
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