Learning Objective 1: describe the qualities and characteristics of effective mentors for online student practicum experiences.
Learning Objective 2: explain ways for mentors and mentees to work effectively together to accomplish professional practicum outcomes.
Methods: The practicum course is divided into two parts. During part A, students develop a self-directed learning agreement. In part B, students report on their projects and submit all evidence of fulfillment of their learning agreement. In 28 part A classes (n = 263), I challenged students to describe the qualities and characteristics of the selected MSN-prepared nurses that would make them effective mentors for the practicum. I compiled lists and posted for follow-up discussion. In part B, I posted the lists and asked students to confirm whether their mentors displayed these same qualities and characteristics. All lists were content analyzed for themes and patterns.
Results: Characteristics of effective mentors described by the students fell into the following categories: expertise, educational background, interpersonal skills, roles, organizational knowledge, activity in profession, and mentoring approach. I organized categories into a mentorship model for online program practicum experiences.
Conclusion: Mentors play a critical role in guiding, supporting and challenging students to grow personally and professionally throughout the practicum experience, culminating in attainment of a master’s degree in nursing. A mentorship model specific to a practicum conducted in the context of an online program facilitates appropriate selection of mentors and suggests ways that mentors and mentees can work effectively together.
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