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Mentorship – The Role of Mentors in Our Professional Growth

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The article aims to define the concept of mentorship, the impact of mentoring, how to undertake mentoring; benefits of mentoring in a workplace or an educational setting.

THE CONCEPT OF MENTORING

A mentor is an individual who provides support, guides, supervises and facilitates student learning during a practice setting. A mentor is considered as a fundamental influence to students in a learning environment where students are expected to use their theoretical knowledge in a practical setting as well as learn key skills and achieve the required competence for employment. It is important for every student know that they are also expected to be mentors in the near future either formally or informally. Dating back to the Greek mythology, mentor was a friend of the King of Ithaca, Odysseus, who was tasked with training, guiding and supporting his son, Telemachus. It clearly requires knowledge and experience in any field to be a mentor in that field.

It is imperative to understand that mentors must have an adequate knowledge about the individual they are mentoring in any case. This helps build a better relationship irrespective of the duration for the mentoring program. A mentor is expected to provide an observable image of imitation as well as demonstrate skills and qualities for a student to emulate. The role of mentoring must move beyond the teaching of knowledge and skills and must be able to alleviate anxieties and provide support to the student to help socialize in the level of higher education (Mazerolle et al, 2016).

It is expected that a mentor must be able to establish a working relationship by demonstrating his or her competence in building adequate skills that provides support learning for students to be part of a team. It is also the responsibility of a mentor to help a student integrate into his or her designated practice setting. This helps students learn the importance of team work as well as adjust very well in the team. A mentor must hence be able to build a strong rapport with a student by welcoming, orienting, inducting and integrating the student into the multi – disciplinary team within a very short period of joining the new professional learning environment. This helps develop a positive relation between the mentor and the student. Subsequently, a mutual relationship is built based on understanding and empathy as this helps build the potentials of the student within the professional environment. This is important for the relationship to be built directly and indirectly around the shift pattern of the mentor.

Another role of the mentor is the ability to supervise the student within the practice setting. An evaluation by Mazerolle et al, (2016) explained supervision as an intensive interpersonally focused, one on one relationship where an individual is designated to facilitate the development of therapeutic competence in the other person. It is further important for the mentor who in this case is the supervisor to have the knowledge and experience that enables him or her to provide expert support and guidance with well – planned learning opportunities that provides support and coaching for the students to facilitate learning. Care must be taken to ensure that a healthy relationship is developed between the mentor and the students as this contributes to the students attaining direct knowledge and skills (Bolden et al, 2011).

In order to encourage motivation and a relaxing environment to promote learning, there is the need for the mentor to ensure effective orientation for the student. During this period, the learning objectives are expected to be spelt out clearly and to the understanding of the student. As the student has the opportunity to be part of a multi – professional educational team, it is the responsibility of the mentor to ensure that the student is fully integrated into the team and work alongside other professionals in the practical setting. Learning within a professional educational setting can be facilitated through the use of a variety of approaches by mentors and other staff who have the right skills. Mentors can also promote learning to students by applying reflective learning as a learning technique that reinforces mixing theoretical and realistic learning into practice. Reflective learning is an effective tool that supports mentorship, thereby allowing students the chance to reflect on past experiences and to learn from them before proceeding. Mentoring provides an avenue for adopting new teaching approaches that allows students to be taught new approaches to evaluating past experiences in the bid to promote their confidence. This also contributes reflecting on past learning outcomes (Pritchard and Gidman, 2012).

Mentoring should be able to provide a conducive environment that facilitates learning by supporting students and encouraging learning activities, various forms of assessments, supervision, professional vision and applying evidence based practices with the educational setting. Teachers and others educational experts who play roles as mentors are expected to convey professional knowledge and competence to students by regularly taking part in the learning and development of students through teaching, activities, supervision and assessments.

Mentors are influential in helping students reach their aims and objectives. They carry out assessments to ascertain the level of the student’s theoretical knowledge, practical teaching skills and also taking into account the learners’ previous experiences can help mentors facilitate learning. Sharing knowledge and experience with students aids the mentor in identifying the student’s individual learning style (Ali et al, 2008). This shows that a mentor can facilitate a student’s learning by keeping his or her knowledge and skills up to date by researching into current trends and regular mentorship update. A mentor’s role is also aimed at ensuring that there is the availability of learning resources, precise learning opportunities as well as a plan on how students can achieve the planned learning objectives. It is imperative that mentors possess various qualities including being a good educator, have an effective communication skill, act as an advocate and also possess good leadership qualities to help form a good working environment for the students. This also provides a platform to educate students on the expectations of the working environment in the near future.

 

Mentors are also expected to be accountable in the facilitation of students’ learning through a professional judgment on the performance of the students. Mentors are expected to account for the confirmation of students who meet the required competencies and expectations of the academic board undertaking the mentoring program. Mentors are hence expected to facilitate learning and provide students who fail in various tasks constructive criticisms and feedbacks that promote effective learning (Duffy, 2004).

CONCLUSION

Mentoring provides an environment for students to apply practical knowledge to the theoretical concepts studied in classrooms. At London School of Management Education (LSME), we are proud to affirm to our cherished students that all our lecturers and facilitators are experienced mentors who will always support them in their career and professional development. We believe in the mentoring principles and ethos because we value the benefits accrued from its application and implementation.   

It is therefore imperative that mentoring is undertaken seriously with the mentors having both professional knowledge and experience to help educate the students on the expectations of the working environment they will work in the near future.

It is vital that mentoring is taken seriously as it provides an avenue for further learning outside the classroom.

REFERENCES

  • Pritchard, E and Gidman, J (2012). Effective Mentoring in the Community Setting. British Journal of Community Nursing. 17 (3), p. 119.
  • Mazerolle, S. M., Barrett, J. L., Eason, C. M and Nottingham, S (2016). Comparing Preceptor and Student Perceptions on Mentoring Characteristics: An Exploratory Study. International Journal of Athletic Therapy and Training 22 (2): pp. 1-20.
  • , L., Raia., L., Cuevas, N and Prince, T (2011). The Use of Reflective Practice in New Graduate Registered Nurses Residency Program. Nursing Administration Quarterly 35 (2): pp. 134-139.
  • Duffy, K (2003). Failing Students: A Qualitative Study of Factors that Influence the Decisions Regarding Assessment of Students’ Competence in Practice. NMC: London.
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