Support and supervision in practice: who's who

As an NMC mentor, you are a nurse or midwife who holds a current registration and has successfully completed an NMC approved Mentor Preparation Programme.

This is a key role in the support and development of students in training. It is important that students are supervised by mentors who are positive role models and who embrace the values of the NHS constitution. The quality of mentorship will very often determine the quality of a student's placement experience. It is your role to maintain professional credibility and to ensure you are working with your students for 40% of their placement time. You will also oversee students' development through continual feedback and support.

However, all midwifery mentors are required to be sign-off mentors. Thus, midwifery mentors must co-mentor student midwives under the supervision of a sign-off mentor until they have attained sign-off status. Midwifery mentors need to be working towards being a sign-off mentor during their Mentor Preparation Programme and/or immediately after completing it.

Sign Off Mentor
It is an NMC requirement that all midwifery mentors are sign-off mentors. This means that midwifery students must work with a sign-off mentor for a minimum of 40% of their time in practice on all their placements, not just their final placement.

In order to become a sign off mentor there are key criteria that must be followed. Sign-off mentors need to go through an internal review within their own employer to ensure that they have successfully completed a mentor preparation programme, they have been updated by attending a Midwifery Sign-off Mentor Update session and have been supervised mentoring and signing off a student midwife during a placement and/or progression point on 3 occasions by an existing sign-off mentor. 2 of these sign-off activities can be simulated.

Sign-off mentors will be given protected time by their employer, a minimum of 1 hour per week, to review specific practice documentation and see where, and how, students have progressed on their course in relation to practice based competencies. Only sign-off mentors who are on the same part of the NMC Register and in the same field of practice as the student can confirm whether a student is fit for practice and can be put forward for a recordable qualification on the NMC Register.

Supervisor of Midwives
Every student midwife should have a named Supervisor of Midwives allocated to them from the Trust in which they are placed. The way student midwives are allocated a Supervisor of Midwives varies within each Trust.

Midwifery Link Lecturers
The principal role of the midwifery link lecturers are to support students and mentors in the clinical site, advise staff and students on educational matters and to support members of the clinical team. Midwifery link lecturers are involved at the interface of education and service and are responsible for resolving any educational problems that may occur in practice environments. They are also involved in the audit of clinical areas to ensure the students are placed in a quality learning environment.

Education Champions
Education Champions are Anglia Ruskin University academics who co-ordinate link teams to deliver a more transparent and robust level of support for students and mentors within the clinical setting. They play a key role in establishing and maintaining effective communication links between the University, the clinical provider and other stakeholders such as Health Education East of England. In addition, they co-ordinate the educational audit process and chair the Practice Education Committee meetings every two months with the key education leads from your organisation. These meetings follow a standard agenda and include a review of student and mentor evaluations as well as external reviews such as the CQC.

Education champions liaise closely with the Midwifery Practice Champion for Essex and Cambridgeshire.

Education Champions also work with the Healthcare Organisation/Independent Sector Education Lead and Practice Education Facilitators to provide support such as drop-in surgeries and link visits. As such, their contact details and planned visit dates are published in the clinical areas.

Director of Health and Social Care Practice
The Director of Health and Social Care Practice is a senior academic who works with all stakeholders and commissioning bodies to support, maintain and further develop high quality practice learning opportunities for students.

Personal tutors
These are the students' personal and academic tutors. The role of the personal tutors is vital in the progress of the students' journey on the course; The personal tutors assist in the exploration of the theoretical perspectives from each module and, in the classroom setting, help to prepare students to begin to relate theory to practical application. Personal tutors act as academic mentors and are fully involved in any personal or disciplinary factors which may impact on students' progress on the course.

Practice Team
The role of the Practice team is to manage and co-ordinate student placements for Anglia Ruskin University and Essex University. They play a vital role which includes:

  • Allocating students to the relevant audited clinical areas applicable to the stage of the programme.
  • Disseminating student nurse allocation information to a designated member of staff within the clinical areas.
  • Collating ward returns and monitoring student attendance including sickness and absence.
  • Working in partnership with Mentors, Clinical Managers, Education Champions, Link Lecturers, Trust Education Lead regarding placement issues.