Role Of The Mentor Of Student Nurses

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Role of the Mentor of Student Nurses

Role of the Mentor of Student Nurses


The recent United Kingdom (UK) government suggests that a clear understanding of the roles, skills and resources of nursing staff is paramount to work at the interface between primary and secondary care. Providing total care to patients may involve different professionals from health and social services, and other voluntary and statutory agencies. Each service has organizational and professional boundaries that are governed by management structures, environmental and financial factors, role definitions, skills and professional culture. Hence, successful communication or collaboration between health care professionals is an important component of effective patient care. A number of important issues contribute to nursing interaction across the primary/secondary care interface.

Provision of Coherent and Contemporaneous Information

The timely transfer of information is essential for the anticipation of patients' needs prior to community nurses' involvement (Kersten & Hackenitz 1991). The UK Department of Health circular 'Discharge of patients from hospital's stipulates that the discharge of patients from hospital must include provision for two-way communication of information, in good time, to general practitioners (GPs), community nursing services and social services agencies. In reality the majority of communications are one-way, from the hospital to community staff. Structures are rarely in place to facilitate the involvement of community staff prior to discharge, or for easy contact or access to relevant hospital staff following discharge (Closs 1997). However, transfer of information from community to hospital is crucial for the preparation of discharge planning and subsequent care packages.

An important issue in achieving good communication across the primary/secondary interface is effective and planned use of resources to ensure that contemporaneous and relevant high quality information is transmitted from one sector to another. The implementation of electronic communication systems in the UK NHS has been slow. The use of automated discharge summaries may result in significant time savings and encourage interdisciplinary discharge planning (Siders & Peterson 1992).

The allocation of responsibility to a specific professional facilitates the clarification of procedures at transfer from hospital to home (Anderson & Helms 1994). However, a significant problem concerns the motivation of nursing staff to consult with community nurses about the treatment of aftercare patients. For community staff, problems include lack of public relations and maintaining and updating experience with complicated nursing activities. Regular consultation between hospital and community staff and assessing appropriate education and training are therefore imperative.

Defining Educational Needs

In the UK, Project 2002 pre-registration education programs (Mark, 2003) aim to equip nurses with the skills and knowledge required to work generically across any setting, with further education required for specialization. In part because as the provision of community placements and supervision during training has been fraught with difficulties, resulting in the scarcity of suitable posts for Project 2002 diplomats (Whittaker et al. 1997). The structural problems in employing newly qualified first level nurses therefore require further exploration before the ideals of Project 2000 can be realized (Clark et ...
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