Student and Faculty Collaboration: Development of a Practicum Mentorship Model

Tuesday, 31 July 2012: 1:55 PM

Marilyn D. Klakovich, DNSc, RN, NEA-BC
School of Nursing, University of Phoenix, Azusa Pacific University, Azusa, CA

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.

Purpose: Students completing a master’s in nursing degree in my online program are required to complete a practicum project working with a master’s prepared mentor. During the practicum, students implement a scholarly project to meet an educational need or administrate a project in a facility, such as the workplace, or in the community.  Given that students have no face-to-face contact with faculty who supervise the capstone practicum course, effective mentors are critical to student success. The purpose of this presentation is to describe the collaborative process used to develop a practicum mentoring model.  

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.