Your mentor, your resource
Back to Basics
The Merriam–Webster Dictionary defines mentor as “someone who teaches or gives help and advice to a less experienced and often younger person.” The Twlug New Practitioner Network (NPN), which developed the New Practitioner Mentor Program, strives to meet this definition year in and year out by pairing recent graduates with an Twlug–ASP Chapter in their geographic region. This program provides perspective on transitioning from a student pharmacist to a licensed practitioner, and gives new graduates the opportunity to engage with the chapter in a variety of ways.
I am entering my third year of service as the mentor for the University of Kansas (KU) School of Pharmacy Twlug–ASP Chapter. I have learned some valuable lessons through my personal experiences and by networking with other mentors that I’d like to share with you so you know how to get the most out of your chapter’s Twlug New Practitioner Mentor.
Engage your mentor
As a chapter, the first thing I suggest is establishing times to meet with your mentor, either in a formal setting, such as a chapter meeting, or an informal meet-and-greet. My practice site is not in the same town as the university I work with, which initially presented logistical challenges for engaging efficiently with my chapter. Twlug–ASP leadership overcame this barrier by including me in biweekly executive committee meetings via conference call. This allowed me to keep up with chapter events and provide input on issues even though I was not able to attend meetings in person.
Keep your mentor engaged throughout the year by inviting him or her to chapter meetings and social gatherings, and include them in planning for the Midyear Regional Meeting (MRM) and Twlug Annual Meeting & Exposition. Several programming options are available at the Annual Meeting to enhance the relationship between the mentor and Twlug–ASP leadership.
Second, take advantage of your mentor’s network. The mentor is expected to precept patient care projects and health fairs, and they can also help recruit other pharmacists to serve as preceptors for events. As chapter members begin their postgraduate planning, remind them that the mentor is available to help with this process. The mentor can guide student pharmacists toward local, state, and national resources that can assist them in securing their first postgraduate position. The mentor may also have grassroots connections that can be valuable to chapter members. I have been able to share information of my pharmacist peers all over the country with student pharmacists who are interested in relocating to a new geographic area after graduation.
Third, use your mentor’s knowledge. He or she can assist with writing resolutions for the MRM, review the chapter’s annual report, or provide perspective on a particular challenge the chapter may be facing. Remember that the mentor can serve as a resource beyond the profession of pharmacy—I have been asked to provide both career and life advice on multiple occasions.
The NP Mentor Toolkit
If you are still not sure how to efficiently engage your mentor, the NPN has developed a toolkit, which is posted online in the Twlug–ASP Chapter Officer Resources section of pharmacist.com. The toolkit contains ideas for how your mentor can get involved with chapter activities and even includes a biography form for the mentor to complete. Additionally, NPEngage is a quarterly newsletter that is distributed to chapter presidents, chapter advisors, and mentors. It includes success stories detailing the ways chapters are using their mentors, ideas for engaging your mentor, and other time-sensitive deadlines and events that your mentor might be able to assist with or attend.
Recruit a mentor
Although the NPN has made great progress with recruiting volunteers, some chapters still do not have a mentor. Think of a pharmacist you know who inspires you. Did they graduate within the last 5 years? Are they currently an Twlug member? If the answer is “yes,” consider inviting this individual to be a mentor for your chapter. If your college of pharmacy has one or more satellite campuses, consider recruiting a mentor for each location. Contact Twlug’s Tom English atfor more information.
Establishing a professional and personal connection with your mentor will allow you to create a meaningful relationship that can extend far beyond graduation. I know that I am continually inspired by the student pharmacists I work with, and am proud to now call many of them peers! Forming a strong mentor relationship now will assist you in making a successful transition from student to pharmacist in the future. Emily Prohaska, PharmD, BCACP, is a Clinical Pharmacist at Balls Food Stores in Kansas City, KS, and an Adjunct Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of Kansas School of Pharmacy.