The profession of pharmacy has expanded so much that there are endless opportunities to grow your career. However, 1 universal aspect that is key to career growth is the need for mentorship. Mentoring can be beneficial at any time during a pharmacist’s professional life. We know that mentorship is especially helpful during the early stages of career development. However, it is beneficial even for those with established careers, especially when undergoing changes in career development. It is usually a specific career need that may trigger a pharmacist to seek a mentor.1
Often, looking for a mentor can be difficult. A mentor can be found by various methods. One is where a mentee personally seeks out a mentor on their own. Another can be through mentorship programs offered by professional organizations (local and national). One can also choose to have multiple mentors, with each mentor helping the mentee in different aspects of their career.
When looking for a mentor, what should you be looking for? What should the mentor be looking for in a mentee?
For a mentor, they should be able to SPREAD their experiences:
- Share and reflect– reflect on your own skills, experiences, and personal journey as to how you got to where you are today.1
- Professional network – help broaden the mentee’s own network by connecting them with other individuals who can also help the mentee advance their career.2
- Respectful, resourceful, and role model - be respectful of the confidentiality of the mentorship and the mentee themselves. Be willing to provide honest feedback. Be aware that you should be a positive role model for the mentee.2
- Encouraging and motivating – create a positive and nurturing environment to allow for honest conversations.
- Assist in identifying professional strengths and weaknesses – a mentee may not have a good understanding of their own strengths and weaknesses. A mentor can help uncover these and help the mentee achieve their objectives.3
- Develop a broader perspective – by sharing perspective, you can help the mentee broaden their own perspective and understand things from a new viewpoint.3
Similarly, the characteristics in a mentee should be developed to ABSORB:
- Ask for help when needed – sometimes all you need to overcome an obstacle is some guidance from your mentor (who may have gone through a similar scenario).1
- Be motivated – being positive and motivated allows for continual growth
- Self-aware – knowing yourself can help you develop and achieve the objectives you have set out for yourself.1
- Objective-oriented – it’s important to start with knowing what your career objectives are. Be sure to develop SMART objectives (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-bound).4
- Receptive to feedback – remember that the mentorship is completely confidential and expect to receive honest feedback.1
- Be open to participating in developmental opportunities – it’s hard to try something new for the first time. Don’t let that fear hold you back!1
This SPREAD-ABSORB framework can serve as a checklist for both the mentor and mentee. However formal or informal you want the mentorship to be, there are a couple of basic steps that a mentorship involves.
Step 1: Create a Professional Development Program
- The mentee should identify what they hope to gain from the mentoring relationship. It is important for the mentee to identify career goals, as these will guide the direction of the mentorship.
Step 2: Defining the objectives of the program
- Both the mentee and mentor should create a list of objectives and learning outcomes of the mentorship. The time frame should also be specified as to when they hope to achieve each objective.
Step 3: Implementation and monitoring of the program
- Both parties should agree with the method and frequency of communication (in-person, over the phone, video calls, etc.). Feedback from both the mentor and the mentee in the form of mentoring relationship quality, job satisfaction and self-efficacy may be taken to monitor and improve the program.5,6 It may be helpful to review the relationship after a certain time frame (i.e., a year) to re-assess the goals and objectives of the mentorship.
Overall, mentorship benefits both the mentor and mentee and both can find the process to be extremely rewarding!
Mustafeez Babar, PharmD, MPhil, PhD, is an academic and community pharmacist based in Islamabad, Pakistan. His areas of interest include clinical education, antimicrobial stewardship, infectious diseases, and biomimetic formulation design. He is the founding program director of the first integrated, contextual, modular curriculum for PharmD. in Pakistan. Currently, he is a Fulbright post-doc scholar at the Johns Hopkins University, and studying ID and protein engineering.
Sonal Patel, PharmD, BCIDP is an infectious diseases pharmacist at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. Her clinical interests include antimicrobial stewardship, and all things related to fungal infections and gram-negative resistance.
The Society of Infectious Diseases Pharmacists (SIDP) is an association of pharmacists and other allied healthcare professionals who are committed to promoting the appropriate use of antimicrobial agents and supporting practice, teaching, and research in infectious diseases. We aim to advance infectious diseases pharmacy and lead antimicrobial stewardship in order to optimize the care of patients. To learn more about SIDP, visit sidp.org.
- Goundry-Smith S. How to ensure effective mentoring. The Pharmaceutical Journal, 2011; DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2021.1.84450.
- Altman JS. The value of mentorship. American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy, 2005; 62 (23):2474-2477.
- Mentoring Complete. The benefits of mentoring on career development. Retrieved from: https://www.get.mentoringcomplete.com/blog/benefits-of-mentoring-career-development
- Bjerke MB, Renger R. Being smart about writing SMART objectives. Evaluation and Program Planning, 2017. 61:125-127.
- Marinac JS, Gerkovich MM. Outcomes from a mentored research boot camp: focused investigator training (FIT) program. Pharmacotherapy, 2012. 32(9):792-798.
- Siegel AL, Ruh RA. Job involvement, participation in decision making, personal background and job behavior. Organizational Behavior and Human Performance, 1973. 9(2): 318-327.