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The midwife-student mentor relationship: Creating the virtuous circle

Published:October 23, 2021DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.wombi.2021.10.007

      Abstract

      Background

      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.

      Aim

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

      Methods

      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.

      Findings

      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.

      Discussion

      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.

      Conclusion

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

      Keywords

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