Key Qualities Of Mentors


This essay is going to focus on various key qualities of mentors known as enabling traits in mentoring. Morton-Cooper and Palmer (2000) described enabling as the ability to make things happen and it has become related with other positive development concept of facilitation and empowerment to those around him/her, responsive to students need, easy to trust, able to command mutual respect from others, role model, patience, confidence, commitment, being competent. This essay will further analyze on role modeling, as an enabling trait in mentoring, as well different theoretical aspects underpinning the facilitating and assessment of learning. It will also discus the different strategies that mentor use to develop.

According to Gopee (2008) a mentor is a registrant who takes time to facilitate learning, assess and supervise students during their progression years, towards developing their skills and achieving competencies on completion of their course. It has been made a formal role in nursing education to directly allow students to obtain clinical skills during their practice placement in the clinical environment. According to Parsloe and Leedham (2009), a mentor is someone who encourages and support students to manage their own learning in other to maximize their potentials, develop skills as well as improving their performance and become competent professionals.

Gopee (2008) explained some of the enabling traits of mentor as a supporter; they gives time to support students' learning, encourages as well as willing to listen to students and makes himself/herself available whenever needed. As an investor, mentors invest reasonable amount of time working with the student, sharing their own skills, knowledge and experience.

According to Morton-Cooper and Palmer (2000) a mentor should be competent, have appropriate knowledge and experience and be effective in their work within clinical area, have confidence to take risk and allowing student to develop within their own terms. Student should be inspired to take on new challenges and initiatives. It is also vital that he/she recognizes their own strengths and limitations thereby seeking assistance when necessary thus allowing personal growth and development. A mentor should be flexible, approachable, accessible, patient, have perseverance and a sense of humor, which is also important for effective mentoring. With these enabling qualities, mentors should be calm and adaptable and they can also be generous towards others as well as acts as an effective enabler and leader.

Haven discussed the key concepts of enabling traits; this essay is going to analyze role modeling. A good role model is someone who exhibits a very high quality of skills and practices high standard, using evidence based research and working in accordance to policies as well as conducting him/herself ina a professional way (Brown 2002). A role model should also be an organizer of care, a researcher, and teacher within the limitation of their position (Gopee 2008). Rogers (2002) refers to role a model as being natural instead of presenting with false role and pretending to be some sort of perfect one. He/she does not act as they know everything or they are perfect. He/she will display warmth, genuineness and interest in student recognizing them, allowing time for questions and willingness to listen students' responses and replying in an appropriate and caring way. Thereby creating a trustful atmosphere where students can freely ask question without feeling foolish (Ellis and Hartley 2000). They look at themselves as someone who is still learning but are willing to share their knowledge. They are well respected and regarded by their colleagues and students look up to them (Walsh 2010).
bles student to develop more interest in professional development than any other learning experience (Spouse 1998). Bahn (2001) suggests that role modeling is consistent with social learning
According to Donaldson and Cater (2005) students' emphasize on the importance of a good role model whose expertise they could observe and practice. It ena theory, a great deal of socialization occur in clinical environment as well as student learning. According to Bandura (1977) cited in McLeod (2011) behaviors are learnt from clinical environment, through observational learning. However, professional socialization is not mainly a reactive process, it depends on past experiences of the student and the reflective nature of the process and the values promoted in the course (Hawkins and Ewen 1999).howe (2002) states that students put theory into practice during placement in clinical environment; professional roles and values are learned from role models. Hichcliff (2009) states that social learning is a very important useful tool that allows individual to measure outcomes and effect of others' behavior and as a result of this, individuals are able to gain understanding of consequences of their own action. Having the knowledge of the above theory will enable mentors to structure their teaching to facilitate effective learning (Murray and Main 2005). As a good role model, mentors should have positive attitude to work and be comfortable with carrying out their roles. Mentors should give student positive and constructive feedback to enable them to know how they are progressing, what they need to improve on and also guiding them on how to go about it. This will enhance their competence and also motive students as well as make them feel valued as part of the team. It will help to build their confidence and increase students' performance while incorporating it into their behavior and skills (Spouse 2002). Ali and Panther (2008) argued that for feedback to be positive, supportive and unbiased, observed behavior, experience and competence should be put into consideration and should no be based on presumptions and personality.

According to Rogers (1983) role modeling consists of social and humanistic theory considering that learning takes place in clinical environment where students work alongside their mentors; emulate their skills, knowledge and practice. However, precautions should be taken as students in these ways can also copy some harmful behavior and attitudes. Faugier (2005a) suggests that mentors should be aware of their effect as role models on students' learning of skills and professional attitudes. Allen (2001) suggested that, for role modeling to be successful, mentors should try as much as possible to engage student in professional activity by encouraging, motivating and inspiring students; this is because students are unlikely to repeat an observed response unless they are motivated to do so (Bandura 1977).

Further analyzing on being responsive to student's needs. According to Walsh (2010) acknowledging students as an individual and being aware that they have other social lives as well as commitments outside their practice placement and putting this into consideration, will make student feel respected , recognized and motivated. A good mentor is non-judgmental about his/her student and being so, will enable them develop a good relationship based on trust and acceptance. Mentors, who understand his/her student needs, will exhibit a degree of empathic awareness, which will make the student feel relieved. By disclosing that they were once like them and reassuring students that they will also become competent, will help to develop students' confidence and student can believe that they can achieve the same professionalism as their mentors.

Quinn (2000) believes that it is good that mentor should be knowledgeable of student's programme, competencies and learning objectives in order to guarantee effective learning. According to Nursing and Mindwifery Council (NMC 2008) mentors should empower students to identify learning opportunities, needs and experiences that are appropriate to level of learning as well as motivate them to be self-directed learners. As adult learner students may have their objectives and competencies that they want to achieve in additional to practice competencies. Using more of anagogical teaching approach, which is student centered, and it help learning on occur as a result of the student's effect, and it helps learner to learn what they want to learn (Knowles 1990).

According to Burnard (1992) communication acts ad a therapeutic intervention to meet learning needs. It plays an important role in facilitating learning. How mentors communicate and the type of relationship they build with student plays a significant role in empowering or disempowering students (Brown 1997). In order to facilitate learning, mentors should provide an appropriate conducive clinical learning environment suitable for individual students. Rogers and Freiberg (1994) state that one of the mentors' key functions is to welcome student to the team as well as helping them settle down into their clinical environment, which includes managing practice placement and conducting assessment and evaluation throughout the practice placement. It is vial that mentors work alongside students in order to be able to assess and make judgment about the level of student's not withstanding their stage in training.

Rogers and Freiberg (1994) identified that learning contract will give student some freedom to learn about areas they wish to learn as well as areas they wish to achieve which they find particularly interesting. A learner contract is used to identify areas students need to improve on, it clearly identifies how, when and also signed by the both parties. It motivates and helps to reinforce student learning through achieving the objectives. Mazhindu (1990) argues that they are effective but Neary (2000) suggested that they are not. NMC (2009) have emphasized that attitude of mentors, towards record keeping and the use of written records as evidence of actions taken as well as omitted. It advised that for learning contracts to be effective they have to be clearly written and well-constructed.

Mentors should structure teaching and present it in a way that makes it easy to understand. By using a range of learning skills to meet individual student needs, mentors should establish student's learning styles to enable them determine how to facilitate individual learning. It should also be structures in a way that it includes different learning style as described (Walsh 2010). Students are more likely to learn successfully if teaching is planned in a way that addresses individual student's need and interest that is within their ability as suggested by humanistic approach (Hinchliff 2009).

Behaviorist learning theorist recommended that learning through acknowledgement of a certain reaction, resulting in operant condition (Skinner, 1971). Mentor praising student when they perform certain clinical skills or partly completed skills towards their desired competency can easily motivate the student to learning new skills, thus enabling positive reinforcement. According to social learning theory, students learn by working along mentor, observing competent behavior or skill performed. He/she learn and practices it and if the attempt is positively reinforced, students will likely imitate and adopt the behavior and attitude. Mentors should take into account the student's previous knowledge and competence, such as skills already acquired on previous placement in other to maximize learning (Ausuble et al, 1978, cited in Gopee 2008).

According NMC (2008) mentor can develop his/her mentoring qualities by attending mentor's update and also suggested that it should be ongoing instead of annual event. It gives an opportunity to discuss issues with other mentor. It is also required that mentor keep their knowledge and skills up to date throughout their practicing period. Aston and Hallam (2011) states that mentor can receive evaluation and constructive feedback from students regarding their performance to enable them reflect on their aspect of mentoring, thus developing their mentoring skills and improving quality and promoting best practice. According to Anderson (2011) the reason for evaluation is to improve teaching process and learning outcome. However, Kilgallon and Thompson (2012) states that mentors should be careful when requesting for comprehensive feedback from students, unless they are prepared to deal with it in a positive way.

Others strategies mentor can develop their mentoring qualities is by attending organizational training, receiving institutional support and undertaking professional development by attending courses and further educational training as well as receiving support from manager whenever they are available (Wikes 2006). Mentor can update and improve their skills and qualities by using strength, weakness, opportunities and threats (SWOT) analysis to examining his/her roles as a mentor; it is also efficient way of reflection.

In conclusion, having discussed enabling trait/characteristics of mentors and using appropriate educational theories to analyzed role modeling and being responsive to student's needs. This essay has discussed the ways that mentor can exploit to develop his/her mentoring qualities. To enable a successful mentoring, mentor should provide an appropriate conductive clinical learning environment suitable for individual students and also identifying their learning needs as well as opportunities. Self-reflection will improve skills and qualities of mentor as well as improving teaching process and learning outcome.

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