Arizona Pharmacy Association Health-System Academy
Best Practice: Mentor Connection Program
Connection is powerful! Mentorship is even more powerful! In 2011, the Health-System Academy (HSA) of the Arizona Pharmacy Association (AzPA) spearheaded the development of the inaugural AzPA Mentor Connection Program (MCP). The Program paired pharmacist mentors with pharmacy student mentees. Participation in the pilot program (January 2012 to July 2012) included 10 mentors and 10 mentees (n=20 total participants). The expanded pilot from October 2012 to July 2013 nearly doubled participation with 14 mentors and 18 mentees (n=32 participants). Participation has quadrupled since the expanded pilot! A grand total of 115 participants or 49 mentors and 66 mentees participated in the full program from October 2013 to July 2014. Mentor involvement has expanded from the HSA to include all academies within the AzPA (Health-System, Managed Care, Community, Geriatric Care). Mentee involvement initially involved pharmacy students from the Student Society of Health-System Pharmacists at Midwestern University College of Pharmacy-Glendale and The University of Arizona. At present, some technicians are enrolled as mentees. Overall, the MCP has been an overwhelming success within AzPA!
Primary Intended Outcome(s)
The MCP was designed with the vision of building relationships, furthering professional networks, and strengthening continuous professional development on behalf of both student pharmacists (mentees) and practicing pharmacists (mentors) in Arizona. The specific goals of the MCP included promoting personal and professional development of student pharmacists beyond curricular goals; providing direction, building confidence, and instilling values to develop as professionals; empowering future colleagues with tools and resources to be successful in an increasingly competitive job market; creating an engaging environment to instill enthusiasm within the profession; cultivating long- term relationships that evolve and are mutually beneficial; and attending at least one professional meeting together during the program cycle based on common interests.
Key Elements for Success
At the conclusion of each phase of the MCP, participants completed an electronic satisfaction survey to capture quantitative and qualitative feedback regarding their experience with the Program. The survey was developed and disseminated to determine the level of satisfaction with the AzPA MCP, to identify programmatic revisions, and to ensure continuous quality improvement (CQI) based on participant feedback.
How Promoted to Members
Information regarding the MCP was housed on the AzPA’s updated website www.azpharmacy.org and a call for participation via electronic communication and word of mouth was made annually. Individuals interested in participating in the AzPA MCP were asked to submit an application by mid-September. Mentors were AzPA members with a designated primary academy. Mentees were a member of the AzPA Student Pharmacist Academy (SPA), currently enrolled in a PharmD program and resided in the state of Arizona. Mentors and mentee pairs were matched based on the following factors: 1) geographical location (e.g., Tucson, Northwest Phoenix, Central Phoenix), 2) mentee area of practice interest and mentor primary academy affiliation, 3) common professional affiliations, and 4) mentee preference for individual vs. group mentoring and mentor preference to provide individual vs. group mentoring. On October 1st the AzPA notified all participants of their mentor pair(s) and provided each party with the others’ curriculum vitae and program application. The mentees were expected to contact their mentor within a few weeks to establish communication. The formal relationship ran from October to July the following year (10 month mentor-mentee cycle).
Tools and Resources Used
To be viable and successful for years to come, the AzPA MCP needed ongoing leadership and management. The MCP Standing Committee was formed to provide such structure and relied on the efforts of AzPA members to serve on this committee. The MCP Standing Committee was led by a Chair and each Chair served a three-year term (Chair-Elect, Chair, Past-Chair). In addition to the Committee’s Chair leadership structure, the support of additional AzPA members was welcomed to ensure program stakeholder input. Any AzPA member was eligible to serve on this committee and appointment was made by the AzPA CEO and/or MCP Chair. Preference for appointment to the MCP Standing Committee was given to those individuals who participated in the program as a mentor and/or mentee. Additionally, each AzPA Academy Co-Chair was asked to serve on the committee to provide input and communicate committee activities to their respective academy. An AzPA staff member served as the ex-officio on the MCP Standing Committee.
The benefits of participating in the MCP were shared with participants. Maintaining active engagement of both the mentee and mentor were important to the success of the Program.
How to keep mentors involved
To kick off the Program, a mentor training orientation in PowerPoint format was offered for continuing education credit. Mentoring was promoted as an opportunity to have meaningful impact on the professional development of future colleagues or “paying it forward.” Mentors gained access to the exclusive AzPA MCP Mentors-Only Listserv.
The purpose of the listserv was to provide an avenue for smooth communication between the Chair and the mentor group. The listserv was utilized for a variety of reasons including: 1) mentors can share ideas on mentoring, 2) mentors can bring up questions for the group relating to mentorship, 3) MCP Chair can share monthly “Tuesdays with Mentors” inspirational articles and ideas for mentoring, and 4) MCP Chair can use the listserv to share information about upcoming events or organize events for the MCP participants. Finally, a mentee may provide time-saving assistance when collaborating on research, poster presentation, and manuscript development.
How to keep mentees involved
To maintain active engagement, mentees were encouraged to maintain “meaningful contact” once monthly with their mentor. This allowed for further development of professional networking skills and contacts. Mentees were encouraged to attend a professional meeting with their mentor to understand meeting “do’s” and “don’ts”.
Mentors (or the “hiring body”) provided critical feedback on the mentees’ curriculum vitaes which may assist with securing a future job including residency. Finally, the opportunity to conduct research, develop a poster, and prepare a manuscript development with a seasoned professional was invaluable.
Minimal monetary expenses were related to the initial development of the Program. Expenses were initially absorbed through the Health-System Academy budget. AzPA Staff, committee members, and mentors/mentees devoted significant time to developing, rolling out, and revising the program on a volunteer basis.
Return on Investment
While developing a quality Mentor Program requires time, organization, and a group of dedicated champions, the experience was quite rewarding for the mentor and mentee, the state organization, and the profession as a whole.
Outcomes/What Will Change?
Overall, the MCP has been an overwhelming success within AzPA! Annual review of the submitted surveys showed an excellent response rate (40% to 80%). The majority of participants strongly agreed or agreed the MCP met expectations and was valuable (greater than 90%). Nearly all of the participants (greater than 90%) would recommend
the MCP to a colleague. Face to face remains the most common and effective communication method, followed by electronic. Communication occurred at least once per month for greater than 45 minutes. Professional involvement, career choices, and residency training were the most common topics discussed. The overall strength cited for the MCP was a relaxing environment that allowed for mutually beneficial transfer of knowledge between the mentor and mentee. Connection played a powerful role in the success of the pilot program. Based on CQI data, adjustments are made annually to enhance the Program.
The scope of the MCP falls within the AzPA’s mission and vision and helps to achieve several of the organization’s strategic plan goals and objectives.
Because of the great service mentors provide to the organization, the AzPA Board of Directors approved an “incentive” or “reward” for mentors consisting of a discount to the various live AzPA meetings for those mentors who attend with their mentee. Since student mentees already received deeply discounted registration fees, no additional discount was offered to them.
Mentors received certificates of completion in late July/early August. Based on request, a formal letter was sent from the AzPA CEO to both the mentors and their supervisors/program directors acknowledging the service of these individuals to the students, the AzPA, and the profession at large through involvement in this Program. In addition to formal recognition, these letters served as documentation for preceptors to show continuing professional education/engagement/service as required for ASHP residency accreditation.
During AzPA events, mentors and mentees were encouraged to wear buttons promoting the program (Got mentors? Got mentees?) and/or ribbons spotlighting their involvement with the Program.
Suggestions for Other State Affiliates
When developing a Mentor Program, be conscientious that the process may take longer than anticipated and development may be a multi-year process. Start small, poll participants, and based on CQI methods expand the Program. Implementing an annual cycle and timeline of events is instrumental in creating structure within the Program.
Consider creating a handbook or guide to be used by participants in the program and keep it updated (i.e. a living document). Incorporating the Program into the organization’s bi-laws may be an alternative. Market the benefits of the Program from a mentors’ and mentees’ perspective.
Future Plans and Goals
AzPA plans to continue to offer and grow the MCP based on CQI to further promote student, new practitioner, and pharmacist professional development. Development of a training module for mentees is in the pipeline.
There are several evidence-based resources that speak to mentoring in the literature. The AzPA Mentor Connection Program Standing Committee executive handbook served as a guide for mentors and mentees and program oversight. The MCP is pursuing a publication outlining a how-to guide for other states to develop a similar program.
Connection is powerful! Mentorship is even more powerful! If your state affiliate offers a Mentor Program, volunteer to serve as a mentor or mentee today. If your state affiliate does not currently have a Mentor Program and you are interested in developing one, please consider reaching out to the AzPA Mentor Connection Program Standing Committee for advice.
AzPA MCP Standing Committee
Chair: Tony Rondinella email@example.com
Chair-Elect: Marcella Honkonen firstname.lastname@example.org
Past-Chairs: Jon Merchen email@example.com,
Lindsay Davis firstname.lastname@example.org
Members-at-large (who presented MCP at State Affiliate Best Practice Pearls, ASHP Summer Meeting, Las Vegas, NV in June 2014): Mindy (Throm) Burnworth email@example.com, Carol Rollins firstname.lastname@example.org