Factors Affecting Assessment of Student Nurses` Clinical Practice: A Phenomenographic Exploration of the Experiences and Understanding of Mentors of a Mental Health Service in England

Friday, 25 July 2014: 11:05 AM

Peter Thomas Sandy, RMN, BSc (Hons), PGCertED, PGDipED, MSc, PhD
Azwihangwisi Mavhandu-Mudzusi, PhD, RN, RM
Department of Health Studies, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to explore  mentors` experiences and understanding of factors that may affect student nurses` clinical assessments. 

Methods: This  study utilised a phenomenographic methodology and was conducted in a mental health Trust in England.  30 mentors, all registered mental health nurses, participated in the study. Data were collected using five focus group interviews of six participants each.  Data were analysed thematically using Sjöström and Dahlgren approach to analysis. 

Results:  There are multiple factors that may affect clinical assessment of student nurses.  Examples of these include anxieties of assessment, student numbers, placement duration, transparency and the nature of learning outcomes.  The presence of multiple influential factors makes it practically impossible for mentors to achieve absolute reliability of clinical assessments.  Recommendations, such as partnership working with link lecturers and use of protected time were offered to improve the quality of assessments. 

Conclusion: Assessment of students’ clinical performance is a significant and rewarding responsibility, but challenging as well.  Mentors need ongoing training and support to improve the quality of students` assessments.