See sections 2.1 and 3.2
How to become a sign off Mentor or Practice Teacher
The NMC has determined minimum lengths and academic levels for programmes to prepare Mentors, Practice Teachers and Teachers. These requirements are set out in section 3 of The Standards to support learning and assessment in practice (NMC, 2008) in relation to each outcome in the framework. It is expected that all preparation programmes include work-based learning to enable new knowledge, skills and competencies to be applied in practice.
To be a sign-off mentor you must successfully complete an approved programme and then be supervised, on at least three occasions, signing off the proficiency of a student (at the end of a final placement). This supervision must be taken by an existing sign-off mentor. Once all the above has been completed you can be annotated as such on the local mentor register.
To be a sign-off practice teacher you must successfully complete an approved programme and then be supervised, by an existing sign-off practice teacher, on at least one occasion in the signing off proficiency of a SCPHN student who is at the end of their final placement. Once completed you can be annotated as a practice teacher on the local register. You should then undertake a period of preceptorship supported by an existing sign-off practice teacher normally for a year when further sign-offs of SCPHN students should be undertaken.
Part time Mentor/Practice Teachers role in mentoring students
The Standards to support learning and assessment in practice (NMC, 2008) require that students are supervised by mentors for at least 40% of their time (directly or indirectly) by a mentor or practice teacher. The named mentor is responsible for co-coordinating a students experience and is accountable for their decisions to let the student work independently or with others (section 3.2.4). It is therefore a decision for the placement provider to assess the time requirement in the mentors work hours. Standard 2.1.1 identifies the criteria we specify for mentors supporting learning and assessing in practice.
The 40% rule - assessing total performance
The NMC recognises that nurses and midwives who are Mentors are primarily employed to provide care for patients and clients. Pre-registration students have supernumerary status and can expect to be able to work with mentors. The NMC requires that as a minimum, whilst giving direct care in the practice setting, at least 40% of a student’s time must be spent being supervised (directly or indirectly) by a Mentor/Practice Teacher.
The nature of supervision will vary from direct to indirect depending upon the:
• nature of the activity the student is engaged in.
• evidence of their current competence.
• need to assess achievement of NMC outcomes or competencies for progression on the programme.
When in a final placement this 40% of the student’s time is in addition to the protected time, of one hour per week, to be spent with a sign-off mentor/practice teacher. The sign-off Mentor/Practice Teacher will remain accountable for assuring any judgments made on the student’s competence is safe. They need to feel confident about whether a student has achieved the required standards of proficiency for safe and effective practice for entry to the register by the end of the placement.
The role of nurses, SCPHNs or midwives who have not completed a mentor qualification.
The nurse, SCPHN or midwife registrant may facilitate students to develop their competence and provide feed back to the sign-off mentor verbally and in writing in the student documentation. The qualified Mentor/Practice Teacher should assure themselves that the overall competency of the student is met and it is their responsibility to sign this off.
Mentor responsibility for the Nurse they have signed off
The Standards to support learning and assessment in practice (NMC, 2008) state that the role of the sign-off Mentor/Practice Teacher is to make judgments about whether a student has achieved the required standards of proficiency for safe and effective practice for entry to the NMC register. Sign-off Mentors/Practice teachers are responsible and accountable for the decisions they make at the time of sign-off about a student. They will remain accountable for the decision they made at that time with the information and knowledge they had at that time.
To assist them in making this judgement the sign-off Mentors can access records of achievement from previous placements to inform their decision. This will confirm the students’ ongoing competence and that any concerns have been addressed since the last progression point.
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