21 May 2015

Innovative OU programme gives boost to mentoring nurses

An innovative programme of mentoring courses, approved by the Nursing and Midwifery Council is launched to help develop nursing mentors

The Open University’s Nursing Team has co-produced a programme of courses in mentorship, including a new free online course, to develop healthcare practitioners who are supporting nurses learning in practice.

The first part of the programme is a free short course known as a Badged Open Course (BOC) called Facilitating Learning in Practice. Providing 24 hours of learning, this focusses on mentorship skills and explores the principles and best practices underpinning mentorship in healthcare practice. The course authors use their own experience in the nursing profession to help learners develop their knowledge, understanding and skills of mentorship practice, which is also relevant to many other workplace environments.

The second course, for practising nurses who are supported by their employer, entails assessment of a practice-based portfolio and completes the full programme. Practising nurses can register for Facilitating learning in practice: mentorship portfolio assessment. Successful completion of the portfolio assessment will provide evidence of eligibility to enter locally-held registers for nursing mentors.

The OU’s programme has been commended by the NMC review panel for “providing an innovative, flexible, mentorship programme; evidenced by the online professional forum, the learning activities that engage students and the mentorship portfolio”. The programme allows for workplace learning so that more nurses can become registered mentors without the need to take time out from their working role. The initial free Facilitating Learning in Practice BOC can also provide a useful update to mentoring skills for healthcare practitioners as part of their continuing professional development and gives learners the opportunity to earn an Open University digital badge.

Professor Jan Draper, Head of The Open University’s Department of Nursing describes the new programme as timely and much needed: “A shortage of trained mentors is a serious challenge to the current plans to increase the registered nurse workforce. The OU’s new and innovative courses will be a welcome option for employers seeking to develop mentors in the workplace and therefore help to grow the numbers of qualified nurses.”

Find out more about the BOC Facilitating Learning in Practice: an OpenLearn resource:
Find out more about the mentorship programme
Facilitating Learning in Practice: Mentorship Portfolio Assessment:


Notes to Editors:

About The Open University’s Pre-registration nursing programme:
The Open University (OU) has over 12 years’ experience of working with education commissioners and healthcare organisations to deliver its innovative, part-time, workplace-based pre-registration nursing programme (PRNP) across the UK. Since its launch in 2002, 1200 students have graduated from the programme.

A global leader in distance learning, the OU has an excellent reputation for supporting adult learners new to higher education (HE). This is evidenced by the fact that 90% of our pre-registration nursing students successfully complete the programme. High retention rates on the programme are testament to our partnership model and high quality, student-centred approach to learning and teaching.

The OU has formal commissioning contracts with five Local Education and Training Boards (LETBs) to deliver the BSc (Hons) in Nursing:
o Health Education (HE) East Midlands
o HE North East
o HE Thames Valley
o HE Wessex
o HE Yorkshire and the Humber.
As well as these formal commissions, the OU works with a number of NHS trusts in the East of England and in Kent, Surrey and Sussex (with support from their LETB) and with some national independent sector service providers to deliver the PRNP in England. We also have long-standing contracts and commissions from:
o The Scottish Government (since 2003)
o The Department for Health Social Security and Public safety in Northern Ireland (since 2004).

In addition, the OU’s contracts with two LETBs – HE Yorkshire and the Humber and HE Wessex – include the provision of a wide range of modules, undergraduate and postgraduate qualifications and some non-accredited, online short courses for learning beyond registration and wider workforce development, including the Certificate of Higher Education/Foundation Degree in Healthcare Practice for Bands 1–4 staff.

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