Royal Pharmaceutical Society

Grab the universal key and unlock the world of mentoring

By Baguiasri Mandane, Specialist Oncology Pharmacist

One of the greatest figures of the ancient period of Western philosophy left us with a powerful thought:

‘I cannot teach anybody anything, I can only make them think.’ – Socrates

Mentoring is one of the most effective evidence-based approaches to help others think and develop their skills, knowledge, and competencies professionally. I remember being assigned a tutor when starting out at University. This was an academic person I could go to with queries and general support. Little did I know then, that she was not ‘just’ a tutor, but a great mentor who helped me to see the pharmacy profession in a different light and ignited a lifelong spark to aim higher and help others along the way.

Fast forward a few years and I have now had the opportunity to be both a mentee and mentor, in a range of different programmes at different stages of my career so far. I started out as a mentor at De Montfort University in the ‘Dare to Be Mentoring’ programme and then expanded to continue my mentoring journey at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society.

Mentoring? It's a gateway.

The landscape of pharmacy practice is rapidly changing with new sectors and roles emerging. All these exciting new opportunities can add to a complex picture and make it tricky to decide which path to follow. Finding a mentor can help support career choices, job interviews, personal statement writing, improving clinical competence, leadership and management skills, and much more.

Mentee, mentor or both?

The key to this is that you get to choose, and you could be both, that’s right! The RPS mentoring platform is super simple and easy to navigate and allows you to register to look for support as a mentee or provide support to others as a mentor.

As a mentee, you can choose the mentor that looks right for you, by filtering through sectors, career stage or skills you’d like help with and requesting their support.

Some tips on choosing your mentor:

  • Reflect on what you hope to gain from them, for example navigating through changing sectors, returning to work following a career-break, professional guidance relating to a particular speciality, just to name a few.
  • Don’t worry if you don’t know the specifics of the goals you’re after – this is what mentoring is there for, it’s fine to start out with an idea and build up from there.
  • Send them a message on the RPS platform. Hint: to increase your chances of a mutual connection, start with a ‘warm’ introduction and tell them what you’re looking for.

If you’re on the other side thinking ‘Am I actually good enough to be a mentor?’ check out the questions below and if you can answer yes to any one of these two – then you’re good to go!

  • Can you think of a time when you offered someone professional guidance, in the form of a two-way chat, without the official title ‘mentor’? What was it about? (e.g. interview preparation, changing sectors, returning back to practice following extended leave?)
  • Are you keen to share your learnings and provide food for thought to others? Mentoring is not the same as coaching, and that’s the beauty of it! All you’re doing is sharing your own professional experience to help someone else.

A good mentor does not always have to be the most successful one in the room. Failures (no such thing) are ‘growth factors’ and learning from mistakes is a powerful sharing tool to avoid someone else falling into the same trap!

In conclusion, there really isn’t any red tape in the way, preventing you from starting mentoring. And the likelihood is, once you’re in it, you’ll realise that it is a ‘universal’ key to lifelong development. So here’s the first step to joining the tribe:

See you there!