Mentoring non-traditional students in clinical practicums: Building on strengths
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Background: As nurse educators respond to increasing numbers of adult learners attending practicum experiences, clinical instructors are one of our richest resources. And yet, the everyday strategies they implement to mentor these non-traditional students towards success may go unnoticed. This article describes findings from a qualitative descriptive research study that listened to the voices of experienced clinical instructors. Objective: The objective of the study was to describe effective mentoring approaches that instructors in a Post Licensed Practical Nurse to Bachelor of Nursing (Post LPN to BN) program used to support students’ learning and build on their strengths during instructor led clinical practicum courses. Methods: The research was framed from a constructivist worldview and Laurent Daloz’s mentoring model. Digitally recorded and transcribed interview data was collected from 10 clinical instructors who had been teaching for more than 5 years. The transcripts were analyzed for themes which were confirmed with participants through member checking. Results: Findings revealed that instructors supported students by validating individual strengths; challenged them by building on those strengths; and created vision by linking their present activities to competencies needed in their own future practice. Conclusions: These findings provide valuable insights and guidance to practicing Registered Nurses (RN’s) interested in teaching non-traditional students during their clinical experiences.