Mentoring is not just about asking an expert

By Helen Middleton, MSc (Education), FFRPS, FPharmS

Mentoring provides opportunities for pharmacists to obtain guidance and support at any time in their career. Those who are new to the profession, changing sector of practice, dealing with difficult work situations or developing a career plan often enlist the help of a mentor.

Mentoring is traditionally defined as “a relationship in which a more experienced or knowledgeable person helps a less experienced or knowledgeable person”. However, there are other definitions of mentoring which describe the mentor’s role to facilitate reflection and learning in relation to the mentee’s agenda rather than acting as an expert or adviser

A mentor supports and encourages another to manage their own development in order that they may maximise their potential, develop their skills, improve their performance and become the professional they want to be”.  Eric Parslow, The Oxford School of Coaching and Mentoring

By taking this approach I do not need to be more experienced that my mentee. It is also not necessary for me to be specialised in his or her area of practice. This approach opens the door for mentees to learn with a wider range of mentors; for example, I have been successfully mentored by a dietitian and even by the director of an art gallery!

Anyone can be a mentor provided they have good communication skills, are able to use a variety of different questioning techniques, are willing to listen and put the mentee’s needs first and view the time spent with their mentee as a valued investment. I hope that this will empower pharmacists who don’t consider themselves as ‘experts’ to sign up to be a Mentor on the Royal Pharmaceutical Society mentoring platform and contribute to the development of other pharmacists.

The four stages of mentoring are:

Getting together involves finding a suitable mentor. The Royal Pharmaceutical Society mentoring platform launched to members in October 2019 facilitates easy and appropriate matching of mentor to mentee. When you join the platform as a Mentor – you create an online profile which describes your experience and what you can offer as a Mentor. Mentees create an online profile which describes what support they are looking for. Then the mentee searches for a Mentor who matches their needs, e.g. the mentee might want to change sector of practice and look for short term mentoring from someone who already works in that sector including CV building and interview practice. Or they might be looking for a longer term mentoring relationship to develop leadership or research skills. The mentoring platform provides a list of potential Mentors and the mentee can view potential Mentors’ profiles, decide on a preferred Mentor/s and send a request for mentoring via the platform.

The first meeting between a Mentor and mentee is a way for you both to check the compatibility of the relationship. You should discuss your preferred mentoring and learning styles with each other, to make sure that you understand how the relationship might work. I ask the mentee two key questions: “How would you define mentoring?” and “What do you want and expect from a mentor?” Mentoring is likely to be ineffective if the mentee is seeking advice and guidance (a directive approach) but the mentor intends to empower the mentee to find their own solutions through questioning and reflection (a non-directive approach). In these situations, it is better for the mentee to search for an alternative Mentor using the RPS mentoring platform. 

All too often mentoring relationships miss the vital step of getting to know each other before launching straight into discussing difficult work situations or developing a career plan. Taking time to get to know the “whole person” (rather than his or her professional persona only) at the start of the mentoring relationship is necessary to establish rapport and trust, otherwise mentees can feel uncomfortable disclosing information. In my opinion, the first and second stages of mentoring are the most important in determining the success of a mentoring relationship. Get these initial aspects right and you will be well on the way to fulfilling the next step: learning together. I believe shared learning within the mentoring relationship brings many benefits for the mentor as well as the mentee.

The final stage is saying goodbye, since all good things must come to an end. My motto is: “Mentoring is like Red Bull — it gives you wings!” One of the hardest things for mentors to do is to let go and let their mentees fly. I always like to end by looking back over the mentoring relationship together and celebrating success.

Join the RPS mentoring platform today and find your perfect match
It’s easy to sign up and the mentoring platform 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 a Mentor based on their profile of skills, experience and interests.

Sign up on www.rpharms.com/mentoring 

How to ensure effective mentoring

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

Find out more about RPS Mentoring and how it can help you.

Every day is a school day for Chris

By Chris Maguire, pharmacist and marketing manager at Beckton Dickinson

I studied pharmacy at Queens University, Belfast.

I completed my pre-reg in community pharmacy, in a small chain, in the same town I went to school. Once I had finished, I did a few locums for the same company and was offered a relief position. I had friends in England who told me about the offers they’ve been receiving. I was tempted…and made the move to the “mainland”. I applied for few jobs and got one with Lloyds pharmacy, living in Liverpool. I moved from relief manager, to pharmacy manager to cluster manager. I was really enjoying work and career progression, but I had always wanted to travel so I took a career break for a year and travelled.
I even got to work in a hospital in Sydney for 6 months of my 14 months adventure.

When I came home, I got a job at Interface Clinical Services, working in primary care. Delivering services such as osteoporosis, diabetes and asthma reviews. Again, I started making my way up – from service development, to a national lead pharmacist.

I managed a team of 90 pharmacists running reviews, clinics, hospital work and made sure they were trained.  I had always been focused on delivering care based on NICE guidance or the latest evidence in disease areas.
I think that with more responsibility, pharmacists can help make a change on a bigger scale.

In my roles in primary care, I learned how clinical systems work in GP land, how the mechanics of QOF work.  I strongly believe that with up-skilling pharmacists to be experts in specific disease areas and pharmacy integration we can create better primary care services. 

I’d been working on a diabetes service specifically for quite a while and think there is so much more pharmacists could do.  It was because of my experience in primary care that I was approached by industry to join as a project manager and help to deliver value based health care. A concept where value is the outcome for the patient over the cost. I thought this was an amazing opportunity to help on a bigger scale and to gain experience in industry.

I had been approached by industry before with an MSL opportunity. I looked into their portfolio, their evidence, the guidelines and felt that it wasn’t a good fit and I couldn’t hang my pharmacist hat on that. So, I stayed with Interface for another 2 years, gaining more experience and exposure working with federations, CCGs, hospitals, AHSNs, NICE and others. It’s not always how fast you can get to the new job but going for the right job.

After working for a year as a project manager, I applied for a marketing manager job. I didn’t have any experience in marketing, but I do understand how the NHS and the supply chain works.  I understand how the use of data can help improve outcomes, which helped me get the job! I’ve now also enrolled on a course to become CIM (Chartered Institute of Marketing) certified at diploma/degree level to make sure I have all the basics and grounding needed.

Every day is a school day! 

Find out more about how to get a job in pharmaceutical industry

Why should you attend the ‘Women in Leadership: Survive and Thrive’?

by Emma Davies, Advanced Pharmacist Practitioner and Research Fellow at Swansea University.

Women form the majority of the pharmacy workforce and yet, are still under-represented in senior roles across all sectors. This Women in Leadership event is looking to explore some of the issues faced by women working in healthcare and how we can work together to overcome them.

My contribution

I am looking to share my experience of workplace bullying and how I have tried to turn negative experiences into motivation to succeed. I am hoping that by being open about what I have faced, it will encourage people who may be going through a similar experience to know that it doesn’t have to continue or prevent them from realising their potential. I am looking forward to hearing from attendees about how they might have dealt with similar experiences and what I can learn from that to strengthen my future and those I support.  Read more Why should you attend the ‘Women in Leadership: Survive and Thrive’?

Careers advice for Recently qualified pharmacists

HarpreetOn Thursday 5th of May recently qualified pharmacists gathered together for our Pharmacy Careers event, looking for guidance and advice on where a career in pharmacy can take them and what they can do to realise their ambitions.

Ash Soni, the president of the RPS, opened the event discussing the emerging opportunities for pharmacists who are willing to embrace change. He described how resilience is a crucial skill for modern pharmacists and that emerging new roles for pharmacists provided exciting opportunities in the near future.

“The only limit to your career within Pharmacy is your imagination” – Ash Soni

Read more Careers advice for Recently qualified pharmacists

Seven essential services for Recently Qualified Pharmacists

Daniel Sutcliffe

After finishing the pre-reg exam and joining the register I took some time to relax and reflect on five years of hard work. Becoming a recently qualified pharmacist is an exciting time in your career, a great many doors are suddenly opened for us and the opportunities available are endless.

It’s always good to have access to additional support to help navigate the various obstacles and opportunities that present themselves along the way. Fortunately membership of the RPS brings with it many benefits, which are especially relevant for us recently qualified pharmacists. I’ve complied the various resources I’ve found most useful to form a list of seven essential services in the hope it will help you.

Read more Seven essential services for Recently Qualified Pharmacists