Just started a new job? Or is work a bit tough? You might benefit from a mentor

By Prof Nina Barnett, FRPharmS

Mentoring is an excellent way of providing guidance and support for pharmacists at any time in their career, from being new to the profession or thinking of changing sector to dealing with difficult work situations or reflecting on the avenues open to maintain an optimal work-life balance.

Mentoring is often defined as a relationship in which a more experienced or more knowledgeable person helps a less experienced or less knowledgeable person. The activities involved can be varied and the scope can be wide. For example, the term can refer to a relationship in which the mentor provides guidance on development in general or on specific topics. It can also overlap with coaching, career guidance, support by peers and tutoring.

The term “mentoring” is sometimes used to describe the relationship between a tutor and tutee. The terminology can be confusing in pharmacy because for preregistration trainees, the tutor could be considered as a “qualification mentor” due to the regulatory requirement for guidance through a programme of study leading to a professional qualification. In addition, some trainees have both tutors and mentors.
In fact, mentors do not have to be experts or teachers. For example, peer mentoring relationships focus on mentee self-directed outcomes and the mentor is not a tutor but rather uses a facilitative approach to help mentees achieve their goals. Indeed, a pharmacist who is newly registered can be an effective mentor for a preregistration trainee because they will have recent experience of the preregistration year and of the examination.

Mentoring means different things to different people. To ensure a successful mentoring relationship, it is important understand the purpose of each mentoring relationship, both in relation to what the mentee wants to achieve and what the mentor can offer.

Mentoring is an excellent way of providing guidance and support for pharmacists at any time in their career, from being new to the profession or thinking of changing sector to dealing with difficult work situations or reflecting on the avenues open to maintain an optimal work-life balance.
Mentoring is often defined as a relationship in which a more experienced or more knowledgeable person helps a less experienced or less knowledgeable person. The activities involved can be varied and the scope can be wide. For example, the term can refer to a relationship in which the mentor provides guidance on development in general or on specific topics. It can also overlap with coaching, career guidance, support by peers and tutoring.

The term “mentoring” is sometimes used to describe the relationship between a tutor and tutee. The terminology can be confusing in pharmacy because for preregistration trainees, the tutor could be considered as a “qualification mentor” due to the regulatory requirement for guidance through a programme of study leading to a professional qualification. In addition, some trainees have both tutors and mentors.
In fact, mentors do not have to be experts or teachers. For example, peer mentoring relationships focus on mentee self-directed outcomes and the mentor is not a tutor but rather uses a facilitative approach to help mentees achieve their goals. Indeed, a pharmacist who is newly registered can be an effective mentor for a preregistration trainee because they will have recent experience of the preregistration year and of the examination.

Mentoring means different things to different people. To ensure a successful mentoring relationship, it is important understand the purpose of each mentoring relationship, both in relation to what the mentee wants to achieve and what the mentor can offer.

Benefits to mentees
Being mentored allows the mentee to improve their understanding of work issues and to be exposed to different approaches to dealing with them. The mentor can be used as a sounding board for ideas and, because the relationship and conversations are confidential, the mentee can speak freely without fear of repercussions.
Information can be disclosed privately to a mentor who, coming from a similar environment, will be able to understand and empathise. Alternatively, the mentee might choose to be mentored by someone in a different sector in order to expand their horizons.

One specialist pharmacist in mental health was mentored as a junior pharmacist and, said: “Mentoring provided me with support and practical advice on how to deal with challenging situations, and gave me an insight on how to develop my career path and make use of my strengths and weaknesses.”

Most people who have been mentored describe an increase in confidence as one of the key benefits. One pharmacist, prescriber in a senior hospital-based clinical role benefited from mentoring when they became a pharmacist prescriber, explained:

Although I was very confident and experienced as a pharmacist practitioner, I was new to pharmacist prescribing. I wanted a mentor for support and to guide me through training and in my role as a new prescriber… Through mentoring I was able to address the challenges of a new prescriber, which included defining my scope of practice in order to maximise patient contribution and ensuring my prescribing was safe and effective.”

As well as offering opportunities for self-learning, mentoring can also help mentees focus on their priorities. One pharmacist, with an existing career in across a range of pharmacy sectors contacted the RPS to find support with the career direction change. They said: “Over the years, I have found that those that are thriving (whether in professional or general life) have often been blessed with having had one or more mentors. I know I would not be where I am now if it were not for several folk who have actively invested in me over the years.”

Rewards for mentors
Mentors often express satisfaction in helping others to achieve their goals as well as enjoying the opportunity to give back to the profession. As a mentor, the satisfaction of seeing your mentee overcome difficulties and create the future they aspire to is extremely rewarding.
I have been fortunate throughout my career to be mentored, both formally and informally, by people who inspired me to achieve my potential and who supported me through the various challenges along the way. I am pleased to be able to mentor others in the hope that they will gain from it as much as I did.
In developing others, mentors also grow their own skills and may gain a different perspective on work. They also find that their confidence around addressing issues and in dealing with people from different backgrounds increases. Mentors do not necessarily need specific knowledge in the mentee’s area of practice (they might simply be required to ask questions to aid reflection and help the individual to self-solve problems) but some skills, such as the ability to question, listen and provide constructive feedback, are essential.

For both mentors and mentees, mentoring presents many opportunities for continuing professional development. The relationship promotes learning, commitment and motivation, all of which support completion of revalidation entries. Entries may include learning that results from meetings and discussions, providing and receiving support or feedback, and evaluating progress either as a mentor or mentee. Mentoring experiences can be used to identify or refine learning focus.

Support
Many professional organisations recognise the benefit of mentoring services and provide this service for their members. Most health-related royal colleges, such as nursing, psychiatry and obstetrics and gynaecology, offer mentorship to their respective students and trainees.
RPS has a mentoring platform which facilitates easy and appropriate matching of mentor to mentee. You need to decide what you would like a mentor to support you with. You can then select and approach a mentor based on their profile of skills and experience. Join the RPS platform today and find your perfect match.

Sign up www.rpharms.com/mentoring

Mentoring – a role for retired pharmacists

by Theresa Rutter, FFRPS FRPharmS

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 tool.

Mentoring as a retired pharmacist

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.

The 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

  • Mentoring provides a safe space and encourages them to explore options and find solutions to challenges
  • Retirees may have more time & flexibility to fit round the working hours of mentees
  • The empathetic relationship helps them to be honest about problems and areas for self-improvement
  • The sessions give them head space for reflection and creative thinking

What’s in it for mentors?

  • Stimulates neuronal pathways (use it or lose it)
  • The opportunity to share expertise and see mentees thrive is rewarding
  • It’s 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 decline.

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).

Sign up at www.rpharms.com/mentoring 

The inspiring women of pharmacy

060

International Women’s day celebrates the milestone achievements and the history of women, spreading awareness about their social, economic, cultural and political achievements, it also encourages a call to action for accelerating gender parity.

To mark this day, we chat to Hannah Batchelor, BSc, PhD, Director of Research for Pharmacy at the University of Birmingham about her current role, challenges and successes as a female in her profession and more importantly how to #BeBoldForChange. Read more The inspiring women of pharmacy

A career in clinical pharmacy – an insight

Lucy HedleyLucy Hedley, Senior Clinical Pharmacist HIV & Infectious Diseases at University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, discusses her career in clinical pharmacy and her professional journey so far.

 

Read more A career in clinical pharmacy – an insight

Ask the RPS : What makes a good community pharmacist?

Hayley Berry, RPS Community Advocate and Community Pharmacist

Through not only my years of experience as a pharmacist but also through a most recent role as RPS Community Advocate, I’ve been able to recognise some of the key skills needed for a career in community.
Read more Ask the RPS : What makes a good community pharmacist?

Facing the challenges ahead as a recently qualified pharmacist

Daniel 150After the thrill of passing the pre-registration exam had subsided somewhat and I joined the register as a pharmacist, it slowly began to dawn on me that despite all the BNF tagging in the previous months there was so much more to learn.  Not only is there a wealth of clinical knowledge to absorb and new skills to refine, but there is also far more I want to get out of professional development than I can achieve by merely documenting CPD entries.

Read more Facing the challenges ahead as a recently qualified pharmacist

If you care, you can lead

marianneby Marianne MacDonald, RPS Leadership Workstream Project Manager

Do you care?

If you don’t think leadership is for you, the first thing to ask yourself is: do you care? Do you care about your team? Do you care about your patients? Do you care about the service you provide? For pharmacists, care is part and parcel of what we do. So, you’re probably already meeting some of the behaviours outlined in Domain 2 (Leading with care) of the new RPS Leadership Development Framework (LDF). Read more If you care, you can lead