Reflections of mentors and mentees on a national mentoring programme for pharmacists

An examination into relationships, personal and professional development


While mentorship programmes for professionals are growing in number, the lived experiences of mentor and mentee participants could be captured so as to better inform best practices and considerations for thriving relationships.


This study evaluated the lived experiences of mentors and mentees in a nationwide programme for pharmacists administered by a professional organisation in the United Kingdom, specifically examining the nature of relationships comprising those experiences.


A phenomenological approach was adopted, with semi-structured interviews conducted remotely between November 2019 and June 2020. Potential participants approached via a gatekeeper, employing purposive and convenience sampling. Transcribed data were examined using a combination of inductive and deductive thematic analysis and codes were assigned independently by two researchers, to increase rigour in analysis.


A total of 20 participants described their perceived role in their respective mentoring partnerships, gave their own account of the definition of mentoring and discussed the crucial role of trust and understanding in developing a successful mentoring relationship. 

Mentors’ beliefs on their perceived role in the relationship largely guided their approach to the structure of the interactions. The concepts of personal growth and development of peers were often discussed by the participants, along with the acknowledgment that mentoring is a relationship that ideally lasts potentially a lifetime, should the relationship be successful. 

Mentors felt a sense of pride in giving back to the profession. An unintentional unbalanced power dynamic was often reported and both mentors and mentees acknowledged frustrations when they perceived their partner was not showing the same level of engagement and commitment.


Pharmacists participating in a nationwide mentoring programme expressed considerable enthusiasm with their contribution, underscoring the programme’s flexibility, its emphasis of mentoring versus merely advising, and its responsibility for enhancing or reconnecting with their professional identity as well as fostering more positivity and liveliness in their professional roles.

The programme might consider additional training to mentors to promote their own self-efficacy in mentoring, which among other things could curtail perceived potential power imbalances within mentor-mentee dyads and lead to a more dynamic and contextualised mentoring experience.