Investment in caring while in a mentoring relationship - always a winner!

by Shane P. Desselle, RPh, PhD, FAPhA, SRPharmS, Professor of Social and Behavioral Pharmacy at Touro University California College of Pharmacy.

The concept of mentoring has many definitions, but what is common among them is a sense of nurturing, and that the nurturing that occurs need not, in fact should not be a one-way street.1 I’m not one to get into or to easily dispense quotes, but here are a couple that I have long treasured. Carger stated, “Mentoring is a human process in which one sees, reflected  in a mentor, aspects of one’s self, facets not clearly in focus, potentials not fully realized”.2 From Levinson et al, “Poor mentoring in early adulthood is the equivalent of poor parenting in childhood”.3

These definitions and quotes are so important to me because they epitomize the confluence of research data from mentoring with my own, personal experiences. Mentoring is indeed critical and is often said to be the most advanced form of development and learning. It is indeed like parenting wherein your investment in the mentor or mentee partner helps you live through them, not completely unlike you would experience with beloved family, like a parent or child. You are desperate for the other person to succeed.

This so greatly transcends the concept of mere advice-giving, which is more often than not geared around the ego needs of the provider, not the recipient of that advice. As a mentor, I now receive more joy from the accomplishments of my mentees than I do my own. Mentees likewise know that if their mentor is successful, then it will bear fruit for them, and they can feel the pride and esteem in themselves as a result of their mentor’s accomplishments.

I have provided mentorship to many, but among the more recent is a graduate student in pharmacy who migrated to the U.S. from Kosovo, and to our best knowledge is the first pharmacy graduate student from there in social pharmacy in the U.S. or elsewhere in Europe. I see in just her first year already receiving grants and publishing papers. There is very little from my own work that instills such joy. In turn, her university is now calling upon me for collaborative teaching, research, and practice endeavors. And of course, the effects of this reverberate. There are now queues of prospective students from Kosovo completing applications to pharmacy programs around the world. The floodgates have been opened!

This kind of transference of learning and experiences are possible when mentoring rightfully takes on nurturing, caring, and professional intimacy in the relationship. I implore all mentors and mentees—give of yourself! You will receive many times the return on investment.


1Anderson E, Shannon A. Toward a conceptualization of mentoring. In: Kerry T, Mayes A, ed. Issues in Mentoring. New York: Routledge; 1995:25-34.
2Carger CL. The two Bills: reflecting on the gift of mentorship.  Peabody J Educ. 2003;71:22-29.
3Levinson D, et al. The Seasons of a Man’s Life. New York: Knopf, 1978.

Shane has also worked with Dr Efi Mantzourani MFCI MRPharmS MSc PhD FHEA, Senior Lecturer in Pharmacy Practice, Cardiff University on the recent research publications.

He will be on the panel of speakers for our first Q&A Webinar on Mentoring on 28 July 2020 (7-8pm BST). Book now  to join and ask your questions on how to be an effective mentor and to hear from other mentoring experts.

For more about RPS Mentoring and how to find a mentor go to: