Mentorship is a long-term and formative process and interaction that extends beyond initial discussions regarding the mentee's career path.
Career paths in pharmacy are consistently expanding, with new settings, new skills to learn, and new responsibilities. Thus, a collaborative mentorship can be extraordinarily helpful in overcoming obstacles and developing professionally as pharmacists navigate through these different opportunities.
Researcher Efi Mantzourani, MRPharmS, MSc, PhD, FHEA, and her colleagues described a nationwide mentoring program for pharmacists in the United Kingdom, specifically shedding light on the mentors' (professional pharmacy peers and colleagues) and mentees' (students, trainees, pharmacists, retired pharmacists) perceptions and experiences in a mentor-mentee relationship.1 They found many benefits for mentors, such as a renewed and deeper professional identity and confidence in the direction that the profession was heading.1
Professional identity is important, as it strengthens one's character, engagement, and self-awareness. Each relationship’s dynamic varied among the mentor-mentee dyads, as each of the mentors brought their own experiences, skills, and beliefs into their own perceived role.1 Different mentorship approaches were seen as effective depending on the mentor’s and mentee’s commitments and schedules. This included flexibility, where mentees led the scheduling and conversations; or structured, where timelines and actions were agreed by both parties.1
Mentorship is a mutual or reciprocal relationship founded on trust, so both parties in the relationship derive considerable benefit. Mentees believed they were supported and guided in goal-making and problem-solving, which generated perspectives they had not initially thought of. This led to personal and professional career growth, confidence, and increased knowledge. Most importantly, mentees had the ability to express feedback to their mentors, which was greatly valued. This contributed to a more fruitful mentorship, as mentors were able to learn what was effective and what could be improved upon.1
All in all, mentorship is different from coaching, managing, and advising; it is a long-term and formative process and interaction that extends beyond initial discussions regarding the mentee's career path. Both mentors and mentees find more meaning in their work, as power imbalances are knocked down in order for the mentor to shape their mentee into a more well-rounded health care professional and human being. Managers would do well to read up on mentorship and create a culture of mentorship even in the absence of a more formal program.
More information about Ethical Decision-Making, Problem-Solving, and Delegating Authority and Entrepreneurship and Innovation can be found in Pharmacy Management: Essentials for All Practice Settings, 5e.
About the Author
Karissa Lapuz is a PharmD Candidate at the Touro University California College of Pharmacy.
Shane Desselle, RPh, PhD, FAPhA, is Associate Dean for Research and Professional Affairs at the Touro University California College of Pharmacy.
Mantzourani E, Chang H, Desselle S, Canedo J, Fleming, G. Reflections of mentors and mentees on a national mentoring programme for pharmacists: An examination into relationships, personal and professional development. Res Social Adm Pharm. 2022;18(3):2495–2504.