Background: Growing numbers of non-medical health professionals are attaining prescribing rights through post-registration non-medical prescribing (NMP) courses in the UK. However, not all implement prescribing post-qualification. This study evaluated the uptake and perceived usefulness of a mentoring scheme for two cohorts of NMP students at the University of Nottingham. The scheme paired students with qualified mentors with whom they had an opportunity to discuss the integration of prescribing theory into practice.
Methods: Mentors were allocated on days 2-5 of the course. Surveys were distributed to students who completed the NMP course [n = 63] and their mentors. Likert-scale and open-ended questions addressed: use, perceived usefulness, and positive and negative aspects of the mentoring scheme. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with both students (n = 6) and mentors (n = 3) to explore their experience of the mentoring scheme in more detail. Students were purposively selected for interview depending on their level of use of the mentoring system. Interviews were analysed using thematic analysis.
Results: The response rates were 65.1% (n = 41) and 56.3% (n = 36) for students and mentors respectively. Just over half of students (57.1%) accessed their mentor. Having a sufficient support network was the key reason for not using the scheme. Students found mentors helpful for: moral support (68.2%); contextualising prescribing (71.4%); and helping them to think about implementing prescribing in practice (72.7%). Fewer mentors felt they helped in relation to contextualising (57.9%) or implementing prescribing (31.6%). Less than half the students and mentors surveyed agreed that they received/provided assistance related to the integration of prescribing theory into practice (38.1% and 42.2% respectively) and assistance with assignments (36.3% and 45.5% respectively). Interviews suggested that students found it difficult to focus on implementing prescribing because of the academic demands of their course, which impacted on uptake and use of the mentoring scheme. Students emphasised the importance of being paired with a prescriber who was successfully prescribing. Mentors benefited from sharing and refreshing their academic knowledge.
Conclusions: Students and mentors derived benefits from participation in this scheme. This intervention may be better as a post-qualification support resource when students are ready to consider their future prescribing practice.