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Keywords:

  • clinical;
  • mentoring;
  • nursing student/undergraduate;
  • placement;
  • systematic review

Aim and objective.  This systematic review describes mentoring of nursing students in clinical placements.

Background.  Mentoring in nursing has been widely investigated, but mentoring among students has remained vague. There is no universal agreement on student mentoring in nursing placements; therefore, mentoring approaches vary. A unified description of student mentoring is needed to ensure the quality of placement learning in nursing organisations.

Design.  Systematic review.

Method.  The data were collected from nursing research articles over 20 years (1986–2006). The articles (n = 23) were analysed using inductive content analysis.

Results.  Mentoring of nursing students in clinical placements was described according to two themes: (1) facilitating nursing students’ learning by creating supportive learning environments and enabling students’ individual learning processes, (2) strengthening students’ professionalism by empowering the development of their professional attributes and identities and enhancing attainment of students’ professional competence in nursing.

Discussion.  This description of student mentoring in nursing clinical placements integrates environmental, collegial, pedagogical and clinical attributes. To ensure effective student mentoring, an individual mutual relationship is important, but also essential is organisation and management to provide adequate resources and systematic preparation for mentors.

Conclusions.  The description of student mentoring needs to be systematically reviewed to reflect changes in nursing and education and compared within related concepts to achieve and maintain a workable description. A clear and systematic strategy for student mentoring in nursing organisations could be one opportunity to enhance recruitment of nursing students to the workforce.

Relevance to clinical practice.  A unified description of student mentoring will help improve the quality of placement learning opportunities and support for students, also for exchange students. A clear description of student mentoring enables the development of systematic provisions for mentoring of nursing students in placements and adequate mentor preparation programmes for nurses.