In recent years, the University of Iowa College of Pharmacy has worked to develop mentorship programs to further students’ overall academic and practice experience. First-year Doctor of Pharmacy students are paired with peer, faculty, and professional mentors to guide them during their time at the college. These relationships have proven to not only be an invaluable resource for the student, but also an enriching and rewarding experience for mentors.
Professional mentors may provide experiences for their mentees including job shadowing, introductory practice experiences, and networking opportunities. A mentor is a role model for the student to look to for insight and advice as they begin their career.
Mentorship is proven to have a strong impact on students. People who have had strong mentor relationships report having a greater understanding of their career and higher job satisfaction. Getting to know an established pharmacist can give students a chance to ask questions and learn about real-world experiences. Mentorship can also provide new pharmacists with networking opportunities and help them succeed in finding work. A mentor can provide honest opinions on the major career and life decisions that face students.
The benefits of mentorship go both ways – mentors have a lot to gain from their relationships with students. Sharing knowledge and building strong relationships benefits the profession as a whole and encourages young pharmacists to take on leadership roles and someday become mentors themselves. “I think that growth and excitement about the profession flows equally in both directions in a mentor relationship. It has been a wonderful way to provide new students to a glimpse of what is possible in their future and for them to reinvigorate the passion that they have for their new career,” said John Hamiel (’97 PharmD), of Elk Run Heights, Iowa.
Professional mentors are invited to meet and coat their mentee during the college’s annual Welcome to the Profession Ceremony each August, and are encouraged to establish a strong relationship that can last beyond the student’s school years. Most mentors meet with their student once or twice per year, and communicate up to once per month, depending on the relationship.
Mentor Communication Tips
- Email the student with pharmacy news and issues that are relevant to your practice or profession.
- Invite the student to lunch and discuss career paths.
- Invite the student to conferences and meetings in the pharmacy community.
- Ask the student about their background, interests, and what led them to pharmacy.
- Share personal stories about your career, struggles, and successes.