TRaNSforM - Training Requirements and Nursing Skills for Mobility in health careEuropean Comission - Lifelong Learning Programme
University of Nottingham

TRaNSforM working definition of mentor / mentorship

Co-ordinating partner Ireland

The term Preceptor and Mentor are interchangeable throughout the literature reviewed and from the partners submissions. Mentor would probably be the most internationally accepted term. Therefore for the purpose of this project mentor / mentorship in nursing is defined as:

An experienced registered nurse with professional expertise who facilities the learning process for the incoming international nurse and supports his/her transition into the clinical work environment. This role is carried out in addition to their clinical responsibilities and involves a formal one –one relationship of a predetermined length. The mentor acts a role model and develops a close relationship with the mentee. The mentor facilitates the mentee to reach negotiated learning outcomes. The mentor supervises, teaches supports guides and advises the mentee. They provide feedback and evaluate the performance of the mentee to ensure outcomes have been reached.

Explanation from partners


Confusion with terms preceptor and mentor is recognised in the literature (Fulton et al, 2007). Preceptor and Mentor are used interchangeably throughout the international literature (Mc Carthy and Higgins, 2003; NMC, 2006; Yonge et al, 2007; Fulton et al, 2007; Jinks, 2007). These terms have the same meaning in the context of nurse undergraduate education (Fulton et al, 2007; Jinks, 2007; NMC, 2006). The concepts of mentor and preceptor over lap to some degree. However the term mentor often entails the formation of a long term nurturing collegial relationship with no formal evaluation, the role is based on career progression, and improving clinical practice. Whereas preceptor implies a formal short term teaching and assessing role based on acquiring competence (Billay and Yonge, 2004; Mill et al, 2005; Yonge et al, 2007). The term Mentorship is the most common term applied in the UK describing the practitioners’ clinical teaching and supervision role in regard to pre-registration students (Jinks, 2007). The mentor role involves an assessment role in the UK context (NMC, 2008). Other European countries also use the term mentor in this context.

Preceptorship is a teaching- learning model used in the education of practice based professionals and as a transition model for new graduates. This model is cited in the literature from Canada, North America and mainland Europe (Billay and Myrick, 2008). Mentorship is a teaching- learning model that is used in practice based, business and educational professions and it cited throughout the international literature (Ministerium für Generationen, 2008). A study investigating Intercultural mentoring in a British- Finnish Erasmus program for undergraduate nurses found Finnish mentors’ acted as intercultural mediators. They promoted the students’ coping by answering queries regarding social and health needs. They also helped students cross the language barrier and explained the differences in policies and health care system (Koskinen and Tossavain, 2003). Intercultural mentoring involves a relationship when a mentor and mentee are from different cultures. This includes a cultural self awareness and situation specific awareness. The outcome of which will be a meaningful mentoring relationship, culturally appropriate behaviour and clinical competence (Osula and Irvin, 2009).

Preceptors need to have a framework to recognise and respond to diversity issues such as cultural differences as these can impact on the learning experience. They need to learn to be sensitive to different world views, and this demands a self awareness of their own beliefs and values. They need to provide opportunities for the student to share experiences, beliefs and values in a safe environment. Preceptors need to clarify expectations of the dominant culture and identify a role model from a similar background who can articulate how to bridge the cultural gap in the work place (Johnston and Mohide, 2008). Both mentor and mentee bring to the relationship, values and assumptions that are culturally based. In order to improve intercultural mentoring relationships organizations need to ensure that both mentor and mentee develop a cultural awareness.

Further information

  • An Bord Altranais (2005) Requirements and Standards for Nurse Registration Education Programmes. 3rd ed. Dublin: An Bord Altranais.
  • An Bord Altranais ABA (2003) Guidelines on the Key Points That May Be Considered When Developing a Quality Clinical Learning Environment.  1st ed. Dublin: An Bord Altranais.
  • Billay, D. and Myrick, F. (2008) Preceptorship: An integrative review of the literature. Nurse Education in Practice. 8(4): pp.258-266.
  • Billay, D. B. and Yonge, O. (2004) Contributing to the theory development of preceptorship. Nurse Education Today. 24 (7): pp.566-574.
  • Bray, L. and Nettleton, P. (2007) Assessor or mentor? Role confusion in professional education. Nurse Education Today. 27(8): pp.848-855.
  • Darling LA W (1985) What do nurses want in a mentor? Nurse Educator. 14(10): pp.18-20
  • Fulton, J., Bohler, A., Storm Hansen, G., Kauffeldt, A., Welander, E., Reis Santos, M. Thorarinsdottir, K. and Ziarko, E.(2007) Mentorship an international perspective. Nurse Education in Practice. 7(6): pp.399–406.
  • Government of Ireland, (2000) A Strategy for a Pre-Registration Nursing Education Degree Programme. The Report of the Nursing Education Forum. Dublin: The Stationery Office.
  • Hyrkas, K. and Shoemaker, M. (2007) Changes in the preceptor role: re-visiting preceptors’ perceptions of benefits, rewards, support and commitment to the role. Journal of Advanced Nursing. 60(5), pp.513- 524.
  • Jinks, A. M. (2007) Methodological considerations of undertaking research with clinical mentors in the UK: A critical review of the literature. Nurse Education Today. 27(7): pp.667-676.
  • Johnston, C. and Mohide, E. A. (2008) Addressing diversity in clinical nursing education: support for preceptors Nurse Education in practice. 9(5): pp. 1471-5953
  • Karjalainen, Merja.2010. Mentorointi on helppo ja luonteva ohjauksen muoto. Väitöskirja. Jyväskylän yliopisto. Available at ( (accessed March 15th 2012).
  • Koskinen, L. and Tossavainen, K. (2003) Characteristics of intercultural mentoring – a mentor perspective Nurse Education Today. 23(4): pp.278-285.
  • Kramer, M. (1974) Reality Shock.  St Louis: Mosby.
  • Levett–Jones, T., Lathlean, J., Higgins I., and Mcmillan, M. (2009) Staff – student relationships and their impact on nursing students ‘belongingness and learning. Journal of Advanced Nursing. 65(2): pp.316-324.
  • Lillibridge, J. (2007) Using clinical nurses as preceptors to teach leadership and management to senior nursing students: A qualitative descriptive study. Nurse Education in Practice. 7(1):pp.44-52.
  • McCarthy, M. and Higgins, A. (2003) Moving to an all graduate profession: preparing preceptors for their role. Nurse Education Today. 23(2): pp.85 -95.
  • Mc Sharry, E., Mc Manus, E. and Winters-O’Donnell, L. (2011) A working definition and provocative proposition for the concept mentor/ preceptor.Presentation at TRaNSforM mobility in Germany 16th November 2011. Unpublished.
  • Mills, J.E., Francis, K.L. and Bonner, A. (2005) Mentoring, clinical supervision and preceptoring: clarifying the conceptual definitions for Australian rural nurses. A review of the literature. Rural and Remote Health. 5(3): pp.1-10.
  • Kompetenzentwicklung im Gesundheits- und Sozialbereich (KomPASS) [online]. Available at: [Accessed 16.01.2012].
  • Ministerium für Generationen, Familie, Frauen und Integration des Landes NRW (2008). KIM - Kompetenz im Management. Mentoring für Frauen in Nordrhein-Westfalen [online]. Available at: [Accessed 16 January 2012].
  • Morton- Cooper, A. and Palmer, A. (2000) Mentoring, preceptorship and clinical supervision: A guide to professional Roles in Clinical practice. 2nd ed Oxford: Blackwell Science.
  • Myall, M., Levett-Jones, T. and Lathlean, J. (2008) Mentorship in contemporary practice: the experiences of nursing students and practice mentors. Journal of Clinical Nursing. 17(14): pp.1834-1842
  • Nursing and Midwifery Council ( 2008) Standards to Support Learning and Assessment in Practice – NMC Standards for Mentors, Practice Teachers and Teachers. London: NMC.
  • Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) (2006) Protecting the public through professional standards Circular 21/2006 SAT/gl. London: NMC.
  • Office for Health Management (2000) Guidelines on mentoring and coaching for managers in Health and Social Services. Dublin: Office for Health management.
  • Ordem dos Enfermeiros (OE) (2003) Competências do Enfermeiro de Cuidados Gerais. Lisboa: OE
  • Ordem dos Enfermeiros (OE) (2010) Modelo de Desenvolvimento Profissional – Fundamentos, Processos e Instrumentos para a Operacionalização do Sistema de Creditação de Competências. Lisboa: OE.
  • Osula, B. and Irvin, S.M. (2009) Cultural Awareness in Intercultural mentoring: A model for enhancing Mentoring Relationships International Journal of Leadership Studies. 5(1): pp.37-50
  • Yonge, O., Myrick, F., Billay, D. and Luhanga, O. (2007) Preceptorship and mentorship: not merely a matter of semantics. International Journal of Nursing Education Scholarship. 4(2): pp.1-13.

Training Requirements and Nursing Skills for Mobility in Health Care


Dr Carol Hall
Telephone: +44 (0)115 8 230 906