Introduction and Background

The Oklahoma University and the Veteran Administration teaching hospitals implemented the Dedicated Education Unit (DEU) model as part of a collaborated partnership. The intended goal of implementing the DEU was to ensure graduates have the nursing skills and competencies to meet the health care needs of an increasingly diverse population in the local and surrounding area. Problems began to emerge between the level of agreement between nursing instructors and mentors in student clinical evaluations in the DEUs. It was realized that when the program was implemented evaluation criteria was not established between instructors and mentors on how student’s clinical competencies will be evaluated. Because of this realization, it was necessary to examine what approach is needed for instructors and mentors to be cohesive in evaluating nursing student’s clinical competencies.

Method and Analyses of Data

Evaluation strategies will include the collection of quantitative and qualitative data from students, mentors, and faculty using a methodological triangulation approach involving surveys, focus group interviews, and the clinical online tool. Data analysis will follow an inductive process of thematic analysis where data will be read, reread, coded, and categorized into themes. This will allow for an in-depth direct data examination and consideration of the different meanings of participants experiences from which emerging patterns and themes can be generated (Naude, van den Bergh, & Kruger, 2014).


Under the DEU model 3 sophomores, 3 juniors, and 3 seniors will be paired with 3 specially trained nurse mentors on an intensive care unit, a medical-surgical unit, and a perioperative unit. The mentors are full-time nurses who are all female. All nursing instructors are also female with masters or doctorate degrees. There are 1 senior and 2 new instructors who will be working closely with mentors and students. New instructors have at least one year of clinical teaching experience.

Purpose and Guiding Questions

The purpose of the evaluation was to compare the level of agreement between nursing instructors and mentors in evaluating student’s clinical competencies within the DEU to ensure graduates have the nursing skills and competencies needed to meet the health care needs of an increasingly diverse population in the local and surrounding area.

  • Did you use the results of student assessment to improve your evaluation of student clinical performance?
  • Do you involve mentors in the decision making of which evaluation strategies you will use to determine students achievement of clinical outcomes?
  • Do you communicate with mentors your expectations of how student’s clinical competencies will be evaluated?

Interview Protocol

Name: _______________________________Title: ______________Date: ____________

Group/ Department: ____________________ Years of Service: ______ Phone: _________

Interviewed by___________________________________________

            As you know, these are challenging times for the nursing profession especially given the constant changing of the healthcare business and the need to have well-prepared graduate nurses to transition quickly and safely into the professional role. The dean of nursing has called for an evaluation to be done in order to compare the level of agreement between nursing instructors and mentors in student clinical evaluations within the DEU. In order to meet the dean of faculty and the VA chief nurse’s desire for the evaluation to be collaborative, participatory, and learning orientated this group, consisting of 15 people, were personally invited to participate in a one-day workshop using the appreciative inquiry method to help focus the evaluation and develop an evaluation plan. The goal of the meeting is to ensure that everyone understands the program, its intended effects and outcomes, as well as how the findings will be utilized. We are interested in understanding more about what is happening when we are at our best when evaluating student’s clinical performance. The information you provide in this interview, your collected comments, experiences, and suggestions will be summarized and used to frame an evaluation plan to strengthen nursing student’s competencies and to close the gap between instructors and mentors clinical evaluations.

  1. Take a moment to think about a time when you made the transition from a novice nurse along the Benner’s novice to expert continuum. You were excited by this realization and were proud that you finally ‘got it.’ Maybe ‘it’ was inserting a Foley catheter, becoming comfortable with administering medication, or giving an IM injection. You had the intense feeling that you were making a difference in patients’ lives because you could comfortably accomplish these sets of skills.
  • Describe this peak experience
  • What was the situation?
  • What were you doing?
  • How did it feel to be part of it?
  • What did you learn?
  • Why did you feel or think this way?
  1. Values: Think of a time when you were being mentored as a new nurse.
  • What are the things you valued in that mentoring relationship?
  • What if the VA hospital and OU school of nursing wanted to ensure that you had more of these positive and energizing experiences. What resources would be particularly important for making this happen?
  • Without being humble, what were the most significant things your mentor did to earn your trust and loyalty?
  • Think back on an experience when you were being mentored and talk about that moment when you felt most excited and proud of the mentoring relationship. What did you most value about the mentoring relationship?
  1. Three Wishes: If you had three wishes for this program to make more of these exceptional experiences possible, what would they be?


Naude, L., van den Bergh, T. J., & Kruger, I. S. (2014). “Learning to like learning”: An appreciative inquiry into emotions in education. Social Psychology of Education, 17(1), 211-228. doi:10.1007/s11218-014-9247-9

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