Although related to coaching, mentorship is a unique topic that deserves its own attention. Mentors are unique in that they choose to invest in the growth of another individual by sharing their knowledge while providing support and guidance.
While we have all had managers or supervisors, not everyone has had the opportunity to experience true mentorship. Coaches and managers push us to perform to achieve a certain goal, but a relationship with a mentor is different because it is transformative and focused on the development of the individual. The relationship is based on trust, support and feedback. Mentoring in pharmacy is particularly important because it can help develop competent, skilled, and motivated pharmacists to lead the profession and advance the field.
A recent survey of pharmacist mentors and mentees was conducted to evaluate the experiences that contribute to these relationships and to gain insight into best practices for developing new mentoring relationships and programs.1 The results of the survey showed that mentorship elicited a sense of pride, as pharmacists felt they were giving back to the profession and that in successful cases, the relationship can be lifelong. Mentees were positive about the mentorship experience, the flexibility of their mentorship partner and the program.1
In particular, a lack of involvement and commitment from one party led to frustration from the perspective of both mentors and mentees.1 These findings emphasize the reciprocal and symbiotic nature of the mentor and mentee bond and can provide the foundation for building a successful relationship.
Mentoring is the provision of guidance, advice and direction to a novice with the aim of refining and developing their skills and knowledge base and furthering the mentee’s personal and professional growth. Identifying a worthy mentee who demonstrates intrinsic motivation for personal and professional development is essential to form the relationship, as it can take a lot of time and energy from both parties. While the time commitment can be seen as a drawback and may deter some from participating in mentorship, it is also important to realize the benefits. The relationship is often rewarding for both parties, as the mentor can experience intrinsic satisfaction in contributing to the lives of others and observing their progress, while the mentee can experience an improvement in self-esteem, confidence, and professional identity.1
For mentoring relationships to be successful, trust must be built through clear and open communication about expectations. In addition, both mentors and mentees need to determine whether their values align.1 Pharmacy managers who act as mentors need to go beyond coaching. While coaching has certain advantages in that it offers more consultation and guidance, mentorship involves a more intimate and established approach.1 Ultimately, mentoring can be more effective for knowledge transfer, development, motivation and employee engagement.1
Importantly, the study acknowledges a lack of mentoring culture within pharmacy, unlike medicine and nursing, where there is an abundance of literature on the human needs of mentors and mentees involved in a mentoring relationship.1 Pharmacy managers need to recognize the need for a culture of mentorship within the pharmacy that fosters collaboration, knowledge sharing and engagement. Creating a culture of mentorship means supporting employees by creating opportunities to build deeper relationships, provide an individualized and personalized approach to development, and identify strong role models to serve as mentors.
Organizations can value mentoring programs by investing in the mentors and by providing training and rewards for demonstrating commitment to the program, encouraging participation and ensuring program sustainability. Even in the absence of a formal mentoring program, the pharmacy manager should communicate the importance and value of informal mentorship and encourage all employees to learn from and care for each other.
More information about To guide people can be found in Pharmacy Management: Essentials for All Practices, 5e†
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Valerie Wasem is a PharmD candidate at Touro University California.
Shane P. Desselle, RPh, PhD, FAPhA, is a professor of social and behavioral pharmacy at Touro University California.
1. Mantzourani E, Chang H, Desselle S, Canedo J, Fleming G. Mentors’ and mentees’ reflections on a national pharmacist mentoring program: a survey of relationships, personal and professional development. Res Soc Admin Pharm† 2022;18(3):2495-2504.