Stephen Goundrey-Smith explains how pharmacists can benefit from mentoring and gives his recommendations for ensuring mentees and mentors get the most out of a mentoring relationship
Mentoring is a useful tool for those interested in career progression or simply anyone wanting support.
Mentoring is a one-to-one relationship of professional development, usually between someone seeking professional progression and a more experienced practitioner. This could also include someone seeking to develop new expertise and a practitioner already active in that area.
Mentoring is different from coaching in that mentoring is concerned with professional development, rather than learning specific skills but many commentators argue that there is considerable crossover between the two.
Mentoring has been shown to have a positive impact on career development in healthcare, helping to improve confidence and interpersonal skills of mentors as well as mentees. It also improves career retention rates and work performance. Moreover, work among psychiatrists showed that mentoring greatly benefited professionals who worked in multidisciplinary teams or who were isolated from their peers in daily practice. Read the full article here
by Katie Perkins, Medicines Management Adviser Hastings & Rother Clinical Commissioning Group
At the end of 2018 I took on the role of CCG medicines
management lead for antimicrobial prescribing (alongside promotion to Medicines
Management Adviser and respiratory lead). I work across two CCGs which cover 43
RPS AMS training
The RPS AMS training programme became available at just the
right time in terms of my new role and immediately before the start of our
2019/20 prescribing support scheme. I was already out and about talking to GPs
about their antibiotic prescribing and in particular three out of the 10
practices that I look after were particular outliers for antimicrobial prescribing.
The learning that I undertook as part of the course, particularly in Quality Improvement
(QI) methodology was invaluable and we were given a brilliant opportunity to
“try this out in practice” with tutor support.
My QI project
The QI project I chose was to reduce inappropriate
prescribing of antibiotic rescue packs for COPD exacerbations and ultimately
for this to help reduce the total number of antibiotic items (per STAR PU)
prescribed by the practice.
I carried out a patient level search at the practice to
identify people with COPD who were prescribed an antibiotic rescue pack on
repeat prescription. 22 people were identified and 9 of these had received six
or more courses in the preceding twelve months.
In preparation for presenting this to the practice I met
with a nurse at another practice which had robust and effective processes in
place for the issue and follow up of COPD rescue packs – this was helpful in
ensuring that I had a realistic handle on what is reasonable to expect in
I met with the four practice GPs, pharmacist and practice
manager and presented them with the list of these patients. I asked them to
review each one to determine if the antibiotic remains appropriate. I provided
them with current national guidance from NICE on this area as well as our local
Where an antibiotic rescue pack was appropriate, the GPs
were asked to consider only prescribing this as an acute prescription (not on
repeat) or, as a compromise, if they would prefer to keep them on repeat, to
consider a maximum of two issues before the patient was reviewed. I was
surprised that the practice agreed to
move all prescriptions to acute and for all new rescue pack prescribing to be
issued only on acute.
They also agreed to include instructions in the rescue pack
directions for the person to contact the surgery when they started taking it.
The practice already had a leaflet that they give out to people when they are
first prescribed a rescue pack – they now aim to give this out more
Results and impact of
my QI project
Before the QI project (February 2019) the practice was the highest prescriber of antibiotics in the CCG (total items/STARPU). The latest data from PrescQIPP (August 2019) shows that the practice has dropped to the 9th highest (out of 23 practices) and reduced their total antibiotic prescribing by 10%.
Practice bar charts Antibacterial items/STAR-PU showing 12 months rolling data to August 2019
This is likely to be in part due to the reduction in rescue
pack prescribing but I suspect that the project may also have provided a
renewed focus on reducing inappropriate antibiotic prescribing more generally.
Getting all the GPs and the practice pharmacist together
and presenting the data to them face to face really got them thinking about the
possible consequences of these repeat prescriptions. They all committed to
reviewing these patients and they have changed their behaviour when it comes to
managing COPD rescue pack prescribing.
As mentioned previously the response to my QI project proposal by the practice pleasantly surprised me and this has given me the confidence to roll the QI out to the other 42 practices across the CCGs. I also plan to look at other areas of repeat prescribing of antibiotics such as UTI prophylaxis and long term prescribing for acne and rosacea.
As your professional body, we are now working towards an inclusion and diversity strategy for pharmacy that values difference. We want to recognise, celebrate and encourage all voices and experiences across pharmacy so we can better represent you and our patients.
I’ve had the pleasure of attending three recent events hosted by the RPS to engage with members on this really important issue. The first was a celebration during Black History Month of the BAME community’s contribution to pharmacy and we had fantastic contributions and insights shared on the day.
second was an Inclusion & Diversity workshop which was a key milestone on
the programme of work we’ve embarked on. Being authentic at work, and in turn
being able to feel a sense of true belonging, is something that means so much
to each of us individually and I’m keen to champion this here at the RPS. I’m a
strong believer that you can only be your best self if you are allowed to be
the person you truly are in your workplace, so this programme, under the
guidance of our excellent Chair, Asif Sadiq MBE, will produce a strategy that
we hope will resonate across the profession as well as within the RPS itself.
third event I attended was the Retired Pharmacist Group of the RPS. It’s clear
to me that older age does not mean a decline in drive, energy and enthusiasm
for the profession (or for life!) and I came away feeling both inspired and
thankful to have among our membership such passionate and professional people
who we can all learn so much from. I do hope RPG members take up my invitation
to become RPS Mentors!
Our recent I&D survey of members has highlighted that they wish us to do more in the areas of disability, race and age, and we’ll be looking at how we can do this most effectively. We’ve also got a timeline of our activity so you can track our progress.
My view is that we can only be effective at tackling I&D issues if we’re not afraid to hear about the problems and challenges faced and address them. This requires each of us to have the courage to speak up and commit to not walking past inappropriate activity where we see it. Those of us in a position to create the environment for concerns to be raised without fear should do everything we can to enable that to happen.
said at our I&D workshop that at times I had been self-conscious as a
white, middle aged, heterosexual male trying to engage in conversation about
BAME and LGBT+ issues as it might be perceived that I had no credibility to do
so. Having talked about this with many people, I now realise that I’m not alone
in having that concern BUT that it’s better to share my perspective, understand
it for what it is, listen to all the other perspectives and actively contribute
to this vital agenda. No one individual can profess to speak on behalf of
groups of others, as we each have a unique perspective – we are all individuals
after all, even though we will identify with certain groups.
can only have credibility in this space if we ‘walk the talk’. Part of our
commitment is therefore to do what is right by publishing data that shows our
performance as an employer striving to create equal opportunity. We already
publish data on our gender
pay gap here at RPS and in future I am committing that we will also publish
data on ethnicity and pay. We are not required by law to do either but it’s
simply the right thing to do, as we believe we should lead by example.
encourage you to engage with this discussion about inclusion and diversity
whenever and wherever you can and to champion everyone’s right to be their
authentic self in the workplace. Being authentic, feeling comfortable with who
we are and bringing a diversity of perspectives and views to work will enrich
the RPS and help us deliver the best possible support for our members, whatever
their age, race, gender or sexuality.
Most of us will
have done some mentoring and many like me will have no formal qualification. I
became interested after being mentored years ago by a non-pharmacist working
towards a formal mentoring qualification. I found the process so useful that I
wondered why it wasn’t embedded within the profession as a self-development
Mentoring as a
We retired pharmacists have the experience and skills to support the self-development of pharmacists at all stages of their career.
I started to
mentor before retiring and have continued since with up to 6 mentees at varying
intervals. They work in different sectors and levels of seniority.
Their areas of
focus have included leadership, effective team work, staff management,
prioritising, change management, problem solving, negotiating, influencing and
work life balance.
competencies (in the Advanced Pharmacy Framework) relating to these generic
skills do not go past their expiry date.
I’ve found that
career progression often means that mentees come to value satisfaction about
their performance and recognition more highly.
Feedback from my
mentees about their experience of mentoring
provides a safe space and encourages them to explore options and find solutions
may have more time & flexibility to fit round the working hours of mentees
empathetic relationship helps them to be honest about problems and areas for
sessions give them head space for reflection and creative thinking
What’s in it for mentors?
neuronal pathways (use it or lose it)
opportunity to share expertise and see mentees thrive is rewarding
always good to get positive feedback
How you can get
involved in mentoring?
It’s easy to
sign up – RPS has launched a new mentoring platform which facilitates easy and
appropriate matching of mentor to mentee. You need to reflect on the skills you
can offer to the mentees, complete your profile and then keep an eye on your
emails for requests from potential mentees, which you can either accept or
For mentees, the same principles apply. They need to reflect on what they would like to get from a mentoring relationship and once registered can select a mentor based on their preferred profile of skills and experience, interest and local area (optional).
The Royal Pharmaceutical Society is the dedicated professional body for pharmacists and pharmacy in England, Scotland and Wales.
Our blogs are written by experts and provide thought provoking information and commentary on health, health policy issues and lifestyle choices. Here you will find opinions and comments on topics related to public health and medicine safety.
We work with a variety of health, charity and business partners to help us highlight particular health issues and run successful health campaigns. We will be inviting guest bloggers from these organisations to help us create interesting, varied and engaging public content.