The influence of peer mentoring on critical care nursing students' learning outcomes
Beepat, Somavathy Yvonne
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Introduction Critical care nursing is one of the most stressful specialities in the nursing profession that involves caring for patients who are suffering with life threatening illness or injuries. The highly technological environment where critical care nursing is rendered is associated with a great amount of stress, frustration and burnout. The critical care nursing student needs to be prepared, mentored and supported for the role transition from student to professional nurse. Nursing education and training cannot succeed without proper theory and practice integration. Therefore, the critical care nursing environment should be supportive of the improvement of teaching and learning. Peer mentoring is one important strategy to help foster an environment that is supportive of the critical care nursing student, allowing them to grow and succeed as experts within the speciality of critical care nursing. Aim of the study The aim of the study was to explore the influence of peer mentoring on critical care nursing students’ learning outcomes in critical care units in KwaZulu- Natal. Methodology A qualitative exploratory research design was used to conduct the study. Ten nurses were recruited from the critical care units in five private and two public hospitals. Descriptions of their experiences were gained through individual face-to-face interviews. The broad question to the participants was: “What influence does peer mentoring have on the critical nurses’ learning outcomes in the critical care unit?” iii Results The findings of the study revealed that peer mentoring is a vital strategy in helping the critical care nursing students to attain their learning outcomes so that they will be proficient in the critical care unit. Peer mentoring was however, not consistent in all hospitals and the critical care nursing students were not given the necessary support and supervision. There were no structured support systems in place to ensure that peer mentoring was formalized and that all required nursing personnel took on the responsibility to teach and facilitate learning for critical care nursing students. Recommendations Recommendations were made with regards to policy development, service provision, nursing education and research. These include that a formalized mentorship programme should be incorporated into the core competencies of all qualified critical care nurses, and to be reflected in their performance appraisal in order to motivate the registered nurses to fulfil their independent function as teachers. Each unit mentor should familiarize him/herself with the prescribed learning objectives of the critical care nursing student in order to be able to delegate appropriately so that learning outcomes are achieved by the mentee. There should be an allocation of supernumerary time for the critical care nursing student and their mentor to allow time for formal mentoring responsibilities to take place away from the clinical area, to facilitate assessment and feedback, and enhance consolidation. Ongoing evidencebased practice research should be conducted on this topic, to provide more information on how peer mentoring effects the mentee, nursing education and retention of skilled staff.