by Kathy Lee Barrack PharmD, PGY1 Pharmacy Practice Resident, University of Mississippi Medical Center
Mentoring, guidance provided by an experienced person, can lead to professional growth and development.1.2 In post-graduate training, mentors impact the careers of health care practitioners and studies have shown that individuals with mentors are more likely to be successful.1,2 They are more likely to become published and be more rapidly promoted.
Traditionally, the mentoring relationship is characterized as a partnership between a more experienced and an inexperienced person.1 While those seeking mentorship often strive to find someone more advanced in their career, the mentee should keep in mind that more than one mentor is often needed at a variety of stages within a long career.1 Peer mentors can be valuable too.
In professional healthcare curricula (e.g. medicine, nursing, pharmacy, and physical therapy) peer-to-peer mentoring can provide social and academic support, professional development, and tutoring services.1,4 Peer-to-peer mentoring consists of two people who are roughly the same age with similar experience. As burn-out becomes more commonplace and problematic, peer-to-peer mentoring may be a part of the solution.1,4 Peer-to-peer mentoring may help prepare for the transition into professional school or post-graduate training.1,4
The Ohio State University College of Pharmacy implemented a student peer-mentoring program for a drug information assignment in an introductory pharmacy practice course.3 This exercise was intended to ensure students were adequately prepared for future courses. During the experience, first-year pharmacy students were paired with a peer (second-year pharmacy students) who completed the same assignment. Students practiced effective communication, organizational, and time-management skills.3 A faculty member provided mentors with training on how to serve as a resource and facilitated oversight of the mentorship program.3
To evaluate the success of this program, the investigators measured the impacted on first-year pharmacy students’ performance on the drug information question, and second, how the student peer-mentoring program impacted the mentors’ (second-year students’) perceptions of their ability to write future drug information questions.3 A strong majority of first-year pharmacy (76%) and second-year pharmacy mentors (100%) agreed that participation improved their ability to prepare a drug information response.3 Additionally, 65% of first-year pharmacy student and 91% of second-year pharmacy students agreed that the peer-to-peer program improved the first-year pharmacy students’ grade.3 In addition, the peer mentors believed the training sessions were constructive, and a majority of the student mentors would participate in the program again. Course faculty also felt the peer-mentoring program was beneficial for first-year and second-year pharmacy students. While this program improved perceptions, it is worth noting the investigators believe the peer-mentoring program will have a positive impact on the mentor’s likelihood to engage in future teaching opportunities and provide constructive feedback.3 See study here: https://bit.ly/2LKVmmS.
There are examples in the Nursing literature as well. The University of Northern Kentucky implemented a peer-based mentor tutoring program for at-risk students to improve retention and academic outcomes.4 While the program had a positive impact on academic performance, as measured by higher final grades, investigators also found that peer-mentors were more likely to pursue a career in academia.4 Implementing the program was not without difficulties or barriers including documentation and communication.4 See article here https://bit.ly/2F41HcA.
In other studies, peer mentoring has been shown to improve professional development, research productivity, and career transition.2,3 The University of Kansas and UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy have both implemented peer mentoring programs with significant success. See https://unc.live/2VpHEuq and https://bit.ly/2s5V4y9.
The goals of peer-mentoring programs are to foster and develop students by providing additional guidance and support.1,5 Recommendations for implementing peer mentoring programs include:1,3
- Establish mentor eligibility requirements – such as GPA and/or leadership qualities
- Develop student commitment - allow students to volunteer or could implement this program as a part of a professional development elective
- Orchestrate meaningful meetings or events – such as professional development opportunities
- Institute faculty oversight - to provide mentors with adequate training
- Evaluate the program –create surveys to obtain feedback and learn about areas of improvement
More tips provided by student pharmacists can be found in an article published in the Pharmacy Times (https://bit.ly/2TlIGFA).5
- Raub JN, Thurston TM, Fiovento AD, et al. Implementation and Outcomes of a Pharmacy Residency Mentorship Program. Am J Health-Syst Pharm 2015; 72 (11) Suppl 1: S1-S5.
- Sambunjak D, Straus SE, Marusic A. Mentoring in Academic Medicine: A Systematic Review. JAMA. 2006;296(9):1103-15.
- Rodis J, Backo J, Schmidt B, and Pruchnicki MC. Student-Peer Mentoring on a Drug Information Response. Am J Pharm Educ 2014; 78(2): Article 38.
- Robinson E, Niemer L. A Peer Mentor Tutor Program for Academic Success in Nursing. Nurs Educ Perspect. 2010;31(5):286-9.
- Nguyen H, Hoang P. 3 Tips for Launching a Peer Mentoring Program. Pharmacy Times. 2016 Oct.