The competence of nurse mentors in mentoring students in clinical practice - A cross-sectional study

Nurse Educ Today. 2018 Dec:71:78-83. doi: 10.1016/j.nedt.2018.09.008. Epub 2018 Sep 19.


Background: Nurses play an important role in developing the competence of nursing students and acting as role models for students during clinical practice placements. Nurses need diverse competence to successfully mentor nursing student.

Objectives: This study aimed to describe and explain nurse mentor competence in mentoring nursing students in clinical practice settings based on self-evaluation, as well as identify different mentor profiles.

Design: This study employed a cross-sectional, descriptive design involving a self-administered electronic version of the Mentor Competence Instrument.

Settings: The study population included nurse mentors from all five university hospitals in Finland.

Participants: Through random sampling, 3355 nurse mentors were invited to take part in the study in 2016.

Methods: Data was collected using Mentors Competence Instrument, which consists of 63 items structured in 10 mentoring competence categories.

Results: Mentors (n = 576) evaluated their level of competence in various categories as middle- to high-level. They evaluated reflection during mentoring and identifying a student's need for mentoring the highest, whereas student-centered evaluation and supporting a student's learning process were rated lowest. Three distinct profiles of mentor competence were identified. These profiles differed in evaluation of mentoring competence level, previous participation in mentoring education, and time spent on reflective discussions with students.

Conclusions: According to their profiles, mentors have diverse needs for support in building their mentoring competence. We suggest that healthcare organizations should provide nursing mentors with education that is based on their individual levels of mentoring competence. Nurses should also be encouraged to use time for reflective discussion with students during clinical practice.

Keywords: Clinical practice; Competence; Mentoring; Mentors; Nurses.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Clinical Competence / standards*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Education, Nursing, Baccalaureate / methods
  • Educational Measurement / methods
  • Female
  • Finland
  • Hospitals, University / organization & administration
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mentoring / methods
  • Mentoring / standards*
  • Mentors*
  • Middle Aged
  • Self-Assessment
  • Students, Nursing / statistics & numerical data*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires