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The Power of Mentorship: A Student's Perspective of Connection and Advancement

by Michael Forst, Third Year Student Pharmacist University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy Co-President of UIC's College of Pharmacy Student Chapter, Chicago Campus

While an individual may accomplish immense achievements on his or her own, a mentor provides an invaluable experience of growth and development. Mentors share their time, expertise, and perspective in what could become a lifetime, transformational relationship. Mentors offer wisdom, encouragement, and leadership to allow individuals to become the best version of his or herself. Among others, a mentor’s role is to provide support, encouragement, and honest vision and insight. They aid in the development of leadership competencies and identify growth opportunities. As a result, a mentor will build a trusting and meaningful relationship with an individual as well as develop self-esteem, self-belief, and self-confidence. Ultimately, the impact of mentorship is seen through results achieved and relationships formed by the mentor and mentee. 

As I began my pharmacy career at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) College of Pharmacy, I had the mindset of creating a far-reaching network for myself within and outside the field of pharmacy. To embed myself within the UIC College of Pharmacy network, I focused my efforts on obtaining my first mentor within the faculty at UIC. Two years ago, the ICHP student chapter at UIC initiated a mentorship program throughout the Illinois Medical District and the city of Chicago. Pharmacists, residents, and students completed a questionnaire regarding organizational involvement, current occupation, and career and academic goals. The questionnaire allowed individuals to be paired based on similar  attributes. This is in alignment with published data on pharmacy student mentorship programs. For example, a 2017 study analyzed students’ thoughts on a mentorship program.  Seventy-seven percent of second year student pharmacists and 77% of fourth year student pharmacists who participated in a college of pharmacy mentorship program found the program to aid in professional growth.1 The study showed students benefited from a mentorship program and having a mentor was conducive to professional development.

The ICHP student chapter at UIC has directed its efforts to participating in the ICHP NPN Mentorship Program that includes students, residents, and pharmacists. All participants of the program can benefit because the program will occur throughout the entire state. As a student, I want both myself and my mentor to have a beneficial and productive connection. I want a mentor who is willing to commit to an engaged and enduring relationship, so I must establish that I want to remain engaged throughout multiple academic years and school breaks. I want my mentor to listen, push me to be the best version of myself, and embrace the idea that I can also help him or her develop and grow personally and professionally. A mentor should have a clear understanding of what the mentee wants to experience and accomplish. Both the mentee and mentor must have clear communication to allow both individuals to optimally understand personal and career ambitions. Clear communication also allows a mentor to help with the mentee’s actual goals and desires rather than focusing on what the mentor thinks the mentee wants. A mentor who strives for immense success of his or her mentee shows that he or she is supportive and encouraging. Establishing these sentiments early in the relationship allows both individuals to be honest with each other when offering advice and perspective. When a mentor and mentee view each other as a valuable resource for growth and development, both individuals may feel more encouraged to offer personal insight and perspective within and outside of pharmacy. Overall, the above qualities allow my mentor and I to engage in consistent, honest, and genuine conversations.

Upon participation in the ICHP NPN Mentorship Program, I will look to advance myself and my mentor to the best that I can. ICHP has an extremely far-reaching network, which will result in a mentoring program that promotes many perspectives within and outside the field of pharmacy. Each mentee and mentor will gain additional opportunities if they begin their pairing with a productive mindset. Mentees and mentors must establish clear desires, ambitions, and goals for themselves. In doing so, both individuals will naturally promote optimal outcomes. By actively participating in the relationship and seeking opportunities for evolvement, both the mentor and mentee will flourish. 

Raub JN, Fiorvento A, Franckowiak TM, Wood T, Gortney JS. Implementing and sustaining a mentorship program at a college of pharmacy: The keys to successful mentorship. Curr Pharm Teach Learn. 2017;9(2):296-301. doi:10.1016/j.cptl.2016.11.017



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