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Functions of a mentor of social work students

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This article discusses the functions and activities of a social work mentor are. The problem that one encounters at work is that the work of the social work mentor is not standardized. Thus it is difficult to evaluate its quality and its effect on the implementation and improvement of social work studies program. The goal of the article is to discuss the field of occupation and functions of the social work mentor. In the article, the concept of mentorship is defined, the functions of the mentor are described, the research that reveals the fields of mentor's occupation and functions in social work is presented. The article is based on published work related to the subject in general way, an analysis of documents pertinent to a social work mentorship at Vytautas Magnus University, and interviews with four mentors and one tutor at this university in 2008.
Social work mentors carry out four basic functions: agreement with the student about the practical work, guidance for students in working in specific situations, assistance through consultation about questions and difficulties that arise during the practical work, and evaluation of the students' progress. All the mentors agreed on the importance of the initial meeting with students. During the period of practice, mentors also stressed the significance of getting feedback regularly from the student. Mentors take part in a life-long learning process which also helps them renew their own expertise and learn about new ideas. A social work mentor supervises student's practice and takes part in improving practice studies. The mentor is a person who shares his/her knowledge, insights, wisdom and experience that is useful for student's professional and personal improvement. This complicated work demands certain competence; however, the occupation of the social work mentor and the needed competence were not fully discussed until now.

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