Do You Have a Pharmacy Career Mentor?


Does your pharmacy career feel like a rather bland and boring meal at the moment? Maybe a mentor is the missing ingredient to spice it up!

One of the few regrets I have in my own pharmacy career was the failure to seek out a mentor earlier in my professional life. That is why one of the most important things I recommend to both new and seasoned pharmacists is that they engage the assistance of a mentor. A mentor can help guide you along the path toward that pharmacy job you have always wanted, but find currently out of reach. As Zig Ziglar once wisely quipped “A lot of people have gone further than they thought they could because someone else thought they could.”

Pharmacists who are thinking about career advancement, a job change or moving into a new pharmacy career path all together, would do well to think about getting a mentor.

For most pharmacists the concept of a career mentor or coach will be unfamiliar territory. Technically, the term “mentor” is usually used to describe a slightly more casual, long-term relationship with someone who has been personally successful in their field, and is willing to share advice and answer questions. A coach is often brought in to tackle more specific, limited issues or challenges. While a pharmacist may need a coach at some point, getting a mentor (or two) is a good idea for any stage in your career.

According to a Harvard Business Review article entitled “What the Best Mentors Do” for mentoring to work “…there needs to be a baseline chemistry between a mentor and a mentee.” In other words, a mentor is not just an impersonal magic 8-ball that you run questions past. A mentor is someone you click with. They are someone that you enjoy getting to know and develop a real relationship with as your career develops. To be truly helpful to you, they need to know you, and you need to know them.

For this reason I suggest finding a mentor that you can interact with in a meaningful way. While a total stranger on LinkedIn may turn out to be a great person to learn from, a more likely mentor is someone within your circle of pharmacy connections already. It could be someone in a leadership role within your current company. In my opinion this should be someone other than your immediate supervisor. Ask HR for help finding someone if needed. But it can also be any other successful professional or entrepreneur in your circle of friends.

What should you do with a pharmacy mentor? You should have some general clarity about where you want your career to go. What are your big goals? You may not know all the turns and steps. But you should have a general idea. One of the things you will do with your mentor is to discuss how to achieve your career goal(s) and to manage the various challenges that come along the way.

The mentoring relationship can be versatile. It can be more or less frequent according to the needs and availability of the people involved. There is no one rule for how mentoring has to look, although both parties should make their needs and capacities transparent up front. In the end, it just has to work for both of you. As Eric Parsloe of the Oxford School of Coaching and Mentoring said “Mentoring is to support and encourage people to manage their own learning in order that they may maximize their potential, develop their skills, improve their performance and become the person they want to be.” 

So what is stopping you from finding a mentor to help you with your pharmacy career?

A Forbes article by Chris Myers, author and CEO, on mentorship sums up well the benefits of this arrangement. “I firmly believe that mentorship is the best path to career success, hands down. The benefits that you can gain from a good mentor relationship can outweigh grad school, natural ability, and even dumb luck. The key is to have the foresight and humility to ask to be mentored.”

A mentor may be that key ingredient your pharmacy career needs to turn an ordinary meal into a culinary masterpiece!

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