The sign off mentor refers to an experienced mentor (who also meets certain criteria), who will be required to sign an affirmation that the student midwife or nurse is competent and proficient and from a practice perspective, fit for registration at the end of the prescribed period of study. Not every nurse will be required to be a sign off mentor but all midwives are required to be sign off mentors. You can read more about this in the document, 'Standards to support learning and assessment in practice' the latest version of which was issued by the NMC in 2008.
Developing a continuum for mentorship, gives the NMC overview of the role of nurses supporting learners.
Organisations offering practice placements have had period to identify mentors who already fulfil the Sign-off criteria. This period has now ended and any desiganted Sign-off mentor should have had their status recorded on their organisation's mentor database.
To enable mentors to gain Sign-off status from 2007 onwards, mentors must demonstrate that they meet the criteria and be observed doing so in practice by an exisitng Sign-off mentor 'Buddy'. Nurses undertaking the Facilitating Learning and Assessment in Practice courses will be introduced to the Sign-off mentor criteria.