Build a mentoring culture in your pharmacy

Although related to coaching, mentoring is a unique topic that deserves its own attention. Mentors are unique in that they choose to invest in another person’s growth by sharing their knowledge while providing support and guidance.

Although we have all had managers or supervisors, not everyone has had the opportunity to experience true mentoring. Coaches and managers push us to act with the purpose of achieving a set goal, but a relationship with a mentor is different because it is transformative and directed at the development of the individual. The relationship is based on trust, support and feedback. Pharmacy mentoring is particularly important because it can contribute to the development of knowledgeable, competent and motivated pharmacists to lead the profession and continue to advance the field.

A recent study of pharmacy mentors and mentees was conducted to assess the lived experiences that contribute to these relationships and to gain insight into best practices for developing new mentoring relationships and programs.1 The results of the study found that mentoring provided a sense of pride, as pharmacists felt they were giving back to the profession and that the relationship can last a lifetime in successful cases. Mentees reflected favorably on the mentoring experience, the flexibility of their mentor mentor, and the program.1

In particular, the lack of participation and commitment from one of the parties generated frustration from the perspective of both the mentors and the mentees.1 These findings highlight the reciprocal and symbiotic nature of the mentor-mentee bond and can be the foundation for building a successful relationship.

Mentoring provides guidance, advice and direction to a novice in order to refine and develop their skills and knowledge base and help further the learner’s personal and professional growth. Identifying a worthy mentee who demonstrates an inherent motivation for personal and professional development is essential to building the relationship because it can take a lot of time and energy on both sides. Although the time commitment may be seen as a drawback and might deter some from participating in tutoring, it is also important to realize the benefits. The relationship is often rewarding for both parties, as the mentor may experience intrinsic satisfaction in contributing to the lives of others and watching their progress, while the mentee may experience an improvement in self-esteem, confidence, and professional identity.1

For mentoring relationships to be successful, trust must be established through clear and open communication regarding expectations. Additionally, both mentors and mentees must determine if their values ​​align with each other.1 Pharmacy managers who act as mentors must go beyond training. Although coaching has certain benefits in that it offers enhanced consultation and guidance, mentoring involves a more intimate and created approach.1 Ultimately, mentoring can be more effective for knowledge transfer, development, motivation, and employee engagement.1

Importantly, the study acknowledges the lack of a mentoring culture within pharmacy, unlike in medicine and nursing, where there is a large body of literature on the human needs of mentors and mentees involved in a mentoring relationship.1 Pharmacy managers must recognize that there is a need to establish a mentoring culture within the pharmacy where collaboration, knowledge sharing, and engagement are promoted. Creating a mentoring culture means supporting employees by creating opportunities to build deeper relationships, offering an individualized and personalized development approach, and identifying strong role models to serve as mentors.

Organizations can add value to mentoring programs by investing in mentors and providing training and rewards for demonstrating commitment to the program to encourage participation and ensure program sustainability. Even in the absence of a formal mentoring program, the pharmacy manager should indicate the importance and value placed on informal mentoring, encouraging all employees to learn from and care for one another.

More information about People management can be found in Pharmacy Management: Fundamentals for All Practice Settings, 5e.


Valerie Wasem is a PharmD candidate at Touro University of California.

Shane P. Desselle, RPh, PhD, FAPhA, is a professor of social and behavioral pharmacy at Touro University of California.


1. Mantzourani E, Chang H, Desselle S,Canedo J, Fleming G. Mentors and mentees’ reflections on a national mentoring program for pharmacists: an examination of relationships, personal and professional development. Res Soc Pharmaceutical Administrator. 2022;18(3):2495-2504.

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