There is growing emphasis on developing sounder processes for ensuring that nursing and midwifery students are appropriately supported and assessed in practice settings, so that they are fit to practice at the point of registration. To support this, the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) in 2006, introduced new mandatory standards for practice education (NMC, 2006). The standards outline mentor responsibility for developing and ensuring the practice competence of students and provide a more defined statement regarding accountability for the decisions that lead to entry to the professional register (NMC, 2006, p. 6). Integral to the standards is the creation of a new role final placement mentors; the 'Sign-off' mentor. The concept of the 'Sign-off' mentor is new and the arrangements for implementing a sustainable approach will be challenging for placement providers. Equally challenging for universities, is the development of a framework that can support, monitor and provide evidence, that regulatory requirements have been met. This paper outlines the complexities associated with maintaining mentor competence, discusses some of the challenges for Sign-off mentors and is intended to contribute to the general discussion about specific aspects of the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) standards and their sustainability in practice.
(c) 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.