Mentoring case studies

"Mentoring was a very enjoyable and rewarding experience for me and for my mentee and gave me a great sense of satisfaction knowing that I had made such a big difference to his life. I highly recommend mentoring as it is something you will look back on with great pride. Mentees often remember their mentors who made a difference to their professional and personal development."

Read more about Wajid's experience as a mentor »

"The final benefit from this mentoring encounter was that I could commit to change and make myself accountable for it. I can honestly say that whilst my discharges aren't always perfect, I think they're a lot better because of the change of mindset that my mentoring encounter facilitated."

Read more about Barry & Nina's peer mentoring experience »

"We reviewed our meetings after a year and had an honest discussion about the value of the relationship for the mentee. The mentee felt that the sessions continued to be useful. The mentee has been performing well at work with increased confidence and has recently been promoted to a post with managerial responsibility."

Read more about Theresa's experiences as a mentor »

Wajid Qureshi

"I was asked to provide mentorship to a pharmacist who had conditions attached to his registration. I was at first surprised and unsure whether I should take on this responsibility, but then, I thought it would be an honour to be part of a colleague's journey in rejoining the profession.

The mentee showed me the document with conditions attached, and it was rather vague in terms of what the remit/scope for the mentor was. I discussed some success criteria with the mentee which we mutually agreed on, in order to ensure he obtained full benefit of our mentoring relationship. The Regulator agreed with our objectives and asked that I submitted six monthly reports to them.

We set clear ground rules which were again mutually agreed, and I asked my mentee what he would like from me in terms of planning the future agenda for our mentorship meetings. We decided to have bi-monthly meetings. We talked about stress management, where I signposted him to some resources, which he found very useful. We selected the appropriate pre-registration training manual competences which would provide him with opportunities for evidencing areas of concern which I could then utilise in my report to the Regulator. 

We mutually agreed that some experience of exposure to a chosen, potentially stressful situation (in agreement with his line manager), in compliance with the conditions attached to his registration would be an appropriate course of action. This proved to be a good development tool for him as he dealt with issues successfully which resulted in uplifting his confidence and resilience. I was pleased that with my encouragement he was able to keep an interventions log, which enabled him to demonstrate appropriate competences. This had a high impact on him and his self-confidence. We mutually agreed that designing a checking sheet for dispensing would be appropriate, so that he could show his adherence to standard operating procedures whilst checking prescriptions prior to the pharmacist's checks. This was also evidenced in my report. He agreed that he would embark on a small challenge which he did in reviewing and changing a standard operating procedure at his area of work.

Through our mentorship meetings I could clearly notice how he was improving in his work ethics and behaviour, as he progressively became more and more motivated and energised. He was growing in self confidence as he became aware of his on-going professional growth and development. I also mentored him on his expectations and career goals, exploring with him what he most wanted in life, and facilitated his journey of self-discovery. Over a period of time I had become a role model for him and he followed my example in managing certain difficult situations as he searched for alternative strategies.

Based on the mentorship and evidence submitted to me from his work, I compiled two six-month reports to the Regulator. These were influential when the Regulator re-instated him to the pharmacy register. It was moving to read his text of appreciation after he was successfully re-instated. 

Mentoring was a very enjoyable and rewarding experience for me and for my mentee and gave me a great sense of satisfaction knowing that I had made such a big difference to his life. I highly recommend mentoring as it is something you will look back on with great pride. Mentees often remember their mentors who made a difference to their professional and personal development."

- Wajid Qureshi

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Barry Jubraj & Nina Barnett

Our peer-mentoring journey was summarised in the article 'Keys to peer mentoring: similar experience, trust, honesty and a willingness to change', published in Professional Matters - 22 October 2011 (vol 287, p500) in the Pharmaceutical Journal. Here we illustrate the power of peer mentoring through an expanded example. 

One of our early mentoring sessions was over the telephone and I asked to talk about an unsatisfactory pharmaceutical discharge from my elderly care rehabilitation unit. I had tried to implement solutions to help the patient manage their medicines when at home and had worked very hard to communicate across the interface to the GP, carers, community pharmacist, district nurses and the family. 

The first thing that my mentor, Nina did, was to listen to my account of this discharge and to ensure that she had understood the narrative correctly. By reflecting back what I said, it immediately helped me to think about the process and to unpick it in my own mind, even before Nina asked me any questions. This is a powerful yet simple technique that slows down your thinking and allows you to bring to your conscious awareness things that you might not have yet processed.

Our peer mentoring works well because we are peers in terms of experience; and have an empathy for the sorts of interactions we face in the workplace. In this example, however, I benefitted from the fact that Nina is a Consultant in Elderly Care and could identify with my frustration about this discharge. However, I was struck that her questions came just as much from a mature practitioner as from a specialist background. This reminded me that simply being a pharmacist and the tacit understanding that this brings can be very helpful in relating to another pharmacist.

Nina's questions focused mainly on my expectations of myself in planning a discharge of such a patient with complex medication and adherence needs. Questions like "so how did that make you feel?" and "looking back, what else do you think you could have done?" were helpful in making me see that I was expecting too much of myself. The way that Nina drew this out was particularly interesting, and it goes something like this:
When people think about mentoring, it's easy to think that you need to have all the answers as a mentor. Some people think that a mentor should be directive, whilst others suggest it should be a non-directive relationship. A really good technique that Nina used was offering hunches. This is a non-threatening way of sharing a view without being unhelpfully directive. It also acknowledges that this was my situation, and that it's not about me trying necessarily to become more like my mentor. The hunch that Nina offered was to ask if there is a possibility that I was trying to solve all of the patient's adherence issues beyond the rehabilitation stay and back into the home situation. I thought about it and realised that I needed to put reasonable plans in place, but more importantly to communicate effectively across the interface. By doing this, primary care could evaluate how the patient was managing at home (something that I couldn't predict) and adjust the management accordingly.

It slowly became clear: I can't predict how the patient will manage at home and whilst I should try to make the best assessment possible, I shouldn't try to fix everything and have too much of a crystal ball. I felt both liberated and a bit sheepish at the same time – sheepish because I was asking myself 'why didn't I think of that?'

But that's the point – I was too caught up in the discharge to be able to take a step back and review it objectively. A good mentor can act as a mirror, reflecting back to you things that you may not see for yourself, as well as giving the time and space to process it beyond the emotions at the time.

The final benefit from this mentoring encounter was that I could commit to change and make myself accountable for it. In our mentoring relationship, Nina will sometimes ask me if this is something that I want to do; but such is our relationship of trust that I can actually ask her to make me accountable. In this case, I committed to applying this to my future discharge planning. I can honestly say that whilst my discharges aren't always perfect, I think they're a lot better because of the change of mindset that my mentoring encounter facilitated. 

- Barry Jubraj

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Theresa Rutter

Some years ago when I felt swamped at work with a poor work-life balance, I had the opportunity to have some structured mentoring over several months and found it very valuable. My main sustained life changes were making more time for reflection and forward planning and setting more realistic goals.

A manager asked if I would meet one of her team who she felt would benefit from mentoring and two colleagues also asked around the same time if I would mentor them. I now have had several years experience of mentoring, most of my mentees being pharmacists.

I retired from my NHS post in 1999 and from the GPhC Register at end 2011 and have continued to be a mentor. The current mentoring relationships focus on 'generic'issues e.g. self, people and time management and coping with organisational change. The mentee is signposted to a registered colleague or resource when a specific professional issue arises in the course of mentoring.

18 months ago I was asked by an NHS occupational health department if I would mentor a pharmacist who had been off work for over a month. Stress relating to her work situation was a contributory factor. I discussed this with the line manager and we agreed that a mentoring relationship could be helpful to facilitate the pharmacist’s return to work. I clarified that the pharmacist was receiving counselling via the occupational health team as I am not a qualified counsellor. The pharmacist was contacted by occupational health and agreed to meet me the week after her phased return to work.

Our first meeting was in an informal setting outside of the workplace in order to help the mentee be as relaxed as possible. At this meeting we exchanged background information to get to know each other sufficiently to start to build mutual trust. We agreed ground rules for our mentoring relationship and started to identify the main areas that the mentee wanted to work on to regain her confidence. At the end of this first meeting we agreed some specific goals that the mentee would address for review at our next meeting. These included keeping a reflective diary when tackling situations that had previously caused distress. We would both keep brief notes to remind us of what we'd agreed and also enable us to review progress.

Initially we met once every two weeks for a maximum of an hour and a half with a view to reducing this to once a month. We continue to meet 4 to 5 weekly.

Our meetings are interactive with a lot of active listening and sometimes challenging on my part. Most of the talking is done by the mentee. The mentee has been very committed throughout and worked hard between meetings on the agreed goals. The goals are a mixture of specific tasks and longer term objectives. Sometimes our sessions have involved coaching e.g. on managing meetings, delegation, tips on time management etc. When a potentially difficult situation has previously resulted in stress, we have 'rehearsed' how to get a positive outcome.

We reviewed our meetings after a year and had an honest discussion about the value of the relationship for the mentee. The mentee felt that the sessions continued to be useful. The mentee has been performing well at work with increased confidence and has recently been promoted to a post with managerial responsibility. 

- Theresa Rutter

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