I am a pharmacist with a decade’s worth of experience. I have been faced with my fair share of career challenges; but without these I could not have developed into the person and professional that I am today, and I could not have achieved this without the support of others.
Looking back over my career, I have had two mentors. Both were very different in their approach, but my self-development and growth was dramatic with their help. With their mentorship and guidance, I was able to develop my business acumen, winning several business awards. I rapidly grew into a pharmacist that progressed through her career, able to confidently handle extra responsibility. This has enabled me to become the pharmacist I am today and has prompted me to coach other pharmacists in achieving the same professional success.
I am sure you have your stories too — such as a tutor who facilitated your development as a preregistration trainee, or a lecturer who took time to mentor you as a student. But what about now that you are qualified? When was the last time you had a discussion with someone about your career goals or how you wish to develop your professional life?
Pharmacy is currently undergoing a paradigm shift, with high pressures placed on the workforce compounded by government funding cuts, so there is an urgent need to change the way we see things and adapt our approach.
Pharmacy can be a lonely profession. After we qualify we are generally left to our own devices, especially in the community. The rules of engagement have changed. The digital age means we no longer switch off. Social media is always operating and so are people’s opinions. The current state of pharmacy can be debated for many hours, but commonly we hear the following: “There are no opportunities”, “We don’t unite”, “We need one voice” or “We are not treated like other professionals”.
After hearing about the issues my peers and students within the profession face, I decided to develop a new ‘Mastermind Mentor Group’. The aim is to help pharmacists at all stages of their careers connect with a group of experienced pharmacists and healthcare professionals. Our mentors are key players within the profession, who are wanting to give back, network and collaborate with each other on a quarterly basis. We aim to discuss and tackle the issues our profession is facing and help take the lead for our profession’s future. By doing this, we hope to unite the profession, build alliances and raise pharmacy’s profile.
Mentors encourage us to build upon our goals in all aspects of life. You may have neglected earlier career aspirations due to external pressures, or you may have a unique skill-set that isn’t being utilised. This consequently effects the patients you serve and the profession that you are a part of.
The right mentor can help re-ignite that spark. If we do not challenge ourselves on a daily basis with personal goals and targets then how can we evolve and grow?
Our mentors have gone through a journey of self-development within/outside the norms of our profession and thus have the experience and knowledge to guide peers through varying career paths within pharmacy. They give their time for free and provide advice from experience, which is far more valuable to a mentee than any number of qualifications.
Our mentees currently range from students to newly qualified pharmacists, including locums and managers who wish to progress to the next step in their careers. They have monthly conversations with their mentor, building upon their development which can be used as part of their GPhC revalidation.
A mentor can help establish a positive growth mind-set. For example, developing plans to build upon goals of furthering career development and professional acumen. This forward thinking and planning has already benefited many pharmacists at this early stage of the mentorship scheme, by identifying the unique skill-sets of interest, such as marketing or law and aiding the profession through initiatives such as PLEA (Pharmacy Law and Ethics Association).
If you are interested in mentoring, or would like to become a mentor, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 07394825477
About the author:
Rajinder Bains is director of PharmaMastery consultancy.