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.
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