Peer Mentoring: Can It Improve Student Learning in Acquiring Health Assessment Skills?

Thursday, 25 July 2013: 8:30 AM

Judy A. K. Bornais, RN, BA, BScN, MSc
Linda J. Patrick, RN, BScN, MA, MSc, PhD
Maher M. El-Masri, RN, PhD
Faculty of Nursing, University of Windsor, Windsor, ON, Canada

Learning Objective 1: "...the benefits of using peer mentors in nursing education"

Learning Objective 2: "...identify peer mentors as an effective educational technique in undergraduate nursing education"


 The use of Standardized Patients (SP) has been found to be associated with improved health assessment skills, competence and application of theory into practice. A peer mentor, unlike an SP, is an upper level undergraduate nursing student who possesses knowledge and skills in health assessment. It has been suggested that peer mentors are more likely to produce improved academic skills and clinical performance. The purpose of this study was to examine the effectiveness of peer mentors, as compared to SPs, in improving first year nursing students’ learning and outcomes in health assessment courses.


A pretest-posttest randomized intervention was conducted on a convenience sample of 212 first year undergraduate Baccelaureate nursing students.  Study participants were recruited from a mid-size university and a community college collaborative nursing program in Ontario, Canada.


 Our adjusted results suggested that working with peer mentors yields a significant improvement in Objective Structured Clinical Examinations (OSCE) mean scores as compared with working with peers and working with SPs (β = .190; P = 0.009).  The results also showed that older students had higher post OSCE score than younger students (β = .272; P < 0.001).


The findings suggest that the use of peer mentors in nursing education may prove helpful in enhancing undergraduate nursing students’ health assessment skills.