This paper reports on research commissioned by the English National Board for Nursing, Midwifery and Health Visiting into mentorship and clinical support arrangements for Project 2000 nursing students in the adult and mental health branches Interviews and observation data were gathered from staff and students in three of the demonstration centres Findings showed that the terms ‘mentorship’, ‘assessor’ and ‘supervisor’ were used interchangeably and covered diverse roles in both clinical and community settings Generally there was an impression that staff were willing to help students learn from their experience but felt unprepared for the ‘new nursing students’ Several factors emerged which seemed either to promote satisfactory experiences for students or inhibit their learning and enjoyment of the placement These are discussed under the themes ‘supernumerary status’, ‘team spirit’, ‘theory and practice’, ‘diploma level practice’ and ‘organization of nursing teams’