Mentoring student nurses under the 2008 and 2018 UK standards for practice-based education

  • Darren Brand

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Following the introduction of revised national (UK) standards in 2018 by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), a new approach to providing support to student nurses was implemented. Under the previous (2008) standards, a qualified nurse worked alongside a student nurse as a mentor for a minimum of 40% of the time the student spent in a practice placement.

The 2018 standards saw the mentor replaced with two new roles, a Practice Supervisor, and a Practice Assessor. The summative assessment element of the previous mentor role has been allocated to the Practice Assessor, while all other elements have been allocated to the Practice Supervisor. Given literature which states that mentors should not be tasked to formally assess their mentees, the Practice Supervisor might thus be considered more of a pure mentoring role than that associated with the 2008 standards.

Three questions were used to guide the research:
1. What are student nurses’ experiences of mentoring under the 2008 and 2018 UK standards for practice-based education?
2. What are mentors’ (including Practice Supervisors) experiences of supporting student nurses under the 2008 and 2018 standards for practice-based education?
3. What are student nurses’ and mentors’ perceptions of the relative benefits and limitations of mentoring under the 2008 and 2018 UK standards for practice-based education?

A qualitative methodology was employed, and semi-structured interviews conducted with both student nurses and qualified staff to explore experiences and perceptions of mentoring under the two sets of standards. Data were firstly analysed thematically, and secondly through the application of an analytical framework, namely Developmental Mentoring.

Findings indicate that student nurses favoured the 2018 NMC standards, as they enabled them to take responsibility for their learning more so than under the 2008 standards. A perception was held by student nurses that across both sets of standards, qualified staff had limited time to provide support, but the flexibility of the 2018 standards provided opportunities to overcome this.

Findings indicate that the Practice Assessor role has improved student nurses’ experience of assessment, and that student nurses felt more enabled to ask questions of their Practice Supervisor because they were not responsible for their formal assessment. The 2018 standards have also afforded student nurses the opportunity to work with a wider range of staff involved in patient care. This was seen as a benefit and enables the wider interprofessional team to get involved in the support of the student nurse. On the other hand, some student nurses interviewed spoke of the qualified nurses who were supporting them not having a full understanding of the roles introduced under the 2018 NMC standards, which was unsettling and, in some cases, led to the student nurse having to provide an explanation to the qualified staff.

Among the implications of this study, there is a need for new Practice Supervisors and Practice Assessors to understand the remit of their roles, and how these differ from those under the mentor role under the 2008 standards. Furthermore, there is a need for all qualified healthcare staff to receive mentoring training.

This study makes an original contribution to knowledge by being one of the first to investigate the new roles introduced by the 2018 NMC standards. It has the potential to benefit student nurses, qualified nurses and nurse educators and, in doing so, to support and facilitate effective mentoring relationships and help provide positive learning experiences within practice placement environments.
Date of AwardFeb 2023
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Brighton
SupervisorAndrew Hobson (Supervisor) & Jane Morris (Supervisor)


  • Placement learning
  • mentor
  • nurse education
  • Practice Supervisor
  • Practice Assessor

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