Standards for Student Supervision & Assessment (SSSA)
Mentors play a critical role in preparing the next generation of midwives for safe and competent practice. The Oxford English dictionary definition of a mentor is ‘an experienced and trusted adviser’. A mentor is defined by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) (2008) as a registrant who has completed all stage 2 outcomes of the standard and completed an NMC-approved mentorship preparation programme. For student midwives, being mentored is considered to be fundamental in their development and education and an important element of preparing for life as a qualified professional. The purpose is to achieve a fit-for-practise and fit-for-purpose workforce with practice experience comprising one of the most important aspects in preparing students for registered status with a professional body, such as the NMC (Lawson and Bunyan, 2013).
Mentors play a crucial part in facilitating teaching, learning and assessment in practice placements. In addition, the mentoring role includes other important functions, such as being a role model and giving constructive and developmental feedback to prepare the student for future placements.
However, NMC has announced last October, the end of mentorship for nurses and midwives. The new Standards for student supervision and assessment (SSSA) have been in effect since 28 January 2019 and set out NMC's expectations for the learning, support, and supervision of students in the practice environment. Additionally, they also set out how students are assessed for theory and practice learning. These standards aim to give approved education institutions (AEIs) and practice learning partners the flexibility to develop creative approaches to education, while still being accountable for the local delivery and management of approved programmes in line with our standards.
With the new SSSA NMC has introduced ‘academic assessors’, ‘practice supervisors’ and ‘practice assessors’ roles to replace traditional mentorships for midwives. The new roles have been created as part of the NMC’s new education standards and the
Universities and employers will determine who are best placed to take on the roles and support them during that period.
Practice assessors will assess and confirm students’ achievements for practice learning and recommend students for progression.
Academic assessors will collate and confirm students’ achievements through theory learning.
Practice supervisors will supervise students during their placements. Any registered nurse or midwife will be eligible to undertake this role.
These changes will take place from September 2019.
2. Lawson, L., Bunyan, C. (2013) Midwives: the next generation Midwives Issue 4 access via https://www.rcm.org.uk/news-views-and-analysis/analysis/midwives-the-next-generation)
There is a relevant qualification that midwives need to complete to become mentors and sign off mentors. This is usually provided by the employer as part of your preceptorship process or as soon as a place become available.
From September 2007 all midwives who undertake mentor preparation programmes are required to have met the additional sign-off criteria (NMC 2008, paragraph 2.1.3) including having been supervised on at least three occasions for signing off proficiency by an existing sign-off midwifery mentor during the programme (NMC, 2008). The role of the sign-off mentor and/or practice teacher is to make judgments about whether a student has achieved the required standards of proficiency for safe and effective practice for entry to the NMC register (NMC, 2008).
Nursing and Midwifery Council (2008) Standards to support learning and assessment in practice: NMC standards for mentors, practice teachers and teachers. London, NMC.
A good check list for mentors is available via the following link: