Mentorship: what are pharmacy students seeking from mentors?

Authors: H. Chang (Royal Pharmaceutical Society, [email protected]), E.Mantzourani, G. Fleming, R. Auckland, N. Christopher

Background: Mentoring has been shown to facilitate professional development in pharmacy students, offering exchange of invaluable knowledge, experiences, and allowing formation of relationships (Sin, Pathickal and Li, 2015). 

Mentoring programmes delivered by academic institutions through local formal and informal schemes are generally well received by pharmacy students, helping mentees grow personally and professionally (Waghel., et al, 2017). 

There is limited evaluation of national mentorship schemes for pharmacy students within the UK.

Rationale: An online survey was conducted in June 2018 with pharmacists, Pre-Registration trainees and pharmacy undergraduate students to explore their mentoring needs. 33 students responded, articulating their need for support to find an appropriate mentor for personal and professional advice; for help with career planning; for exploring professional opportunities.

Description: The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) designed, developed and implemented a new mentoring service to support students in achieving needs identified in the survey. 

The RPS service is provided via a platform, i.e. a technology infrastructure, enabling students to find suitable mentors based on their individual development needs. 

This study explored student-reported needs, collected upon registration with the service. From 1 October 2019 to 29 February 2020, 43 students registered (12.39% of total mentees). 

Descriptive analysis of data showed that students were primarily seeking support from mentors with expertise in career advice (67%), Pre-Registration training (65%), and continuing professional development (51%). 

Students were also seeking mentors with skills in CV building (58%), developing self-confidence (47%), interviewing (35%), and study skills (35%).

Implications for Pharmacy Education: Results from this study revealed that students who sought mentorship via the RPS service were mainly focussing on support for successful and confident transition to the next career stage. 

Future research should focus on identifying further areas of support for students. This will inform the formation of guidance and tools to facilitate tailored professional development at the early stages of pre-foundation training.

References: Sin, J. H., Pathickal, S. M. and Li, M. (2015) ‘Establishment of a peer-mentoring program for student pharmacists’, American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy, 72, pp. 1610–1611.
Waghel, R. C. et al. (2017) ‘Reflections on a year-long student and pharmacist paired mentorship program’, Currents in Pharmacy Teaching and Learning, 9, pp. 713–718.