The midwife-student mentor relationship: Creating the virtuous circle

Published:October 23, 2021DOI:



      Good mentoring is important for students to support their adjustment to and learning in the clinical environment. The quality of the mentoring relationship is key for students but there is a lack of evidence explaining how a good mentor/mentee relationship establishes and develops over time.


      To explore the developing relationship between mentors and mentees participating in a structured midwifery mentoring program in one Local Health District in Sydney, Australia.


      A qualitative interpretive descriptive research design was utilised. Data were collected using 10 focus groups with midwife mentors (n = 31) and seven focus groups and four interviews with Bachelor of Midwifery student mentees (n = 24), over a 12-month period. Thematic analysis using an inductive approach was applied incorporating constant comparison to identify themes and sub-themes.


      Three overarching themes and three sub-themes were identified. The first theme was ‘The great unknown’. Within the second theme ‘Building the relationship’ were three subthemes: trying to connect; becoming known; and an insider on your side. The final theme ‘the virtuous circle’ described the reciprocal relationship and benefits that developed between mentor and mentee.


      The mentor/mentee relationship took time to develop and went through a number of phases. A positive mentor/ mentee relationship flattened hierarchical differences, increased student confidence and capacity for learning, and reflected the midwifery continuity of care relationship between midwife and woman built on respect and partnership.


      Developing a successful midwifery mentoring relationship takes persistence, reassurance, and mutual disclosure ultimately resulting in a recurring cycle of encouragement and support.


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