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9/4/2000

Mentoring Offers Window to Future

Katherine M. Bennett

Mentoring, which has been part of pharmacy education since the profession's founding, is a vital part of the future of health care management and an appealing option for many students. 

Although on-the-job experiences and continuing education are important ingredients to professional success, learning from a seasoned professional about the challenges that await you provides unparalleled opportunities for growth. 

Mentoring runs the gamut in pharmacy practice, from preceptors to sponsors who advocate on your behalf as you move through school and into your career. A true mentor is a person who has an intense interest in your well-being and growth and agrees to be a coach, a confidant, a sounding board, and a counselor. The relationship, which is often paternalistic in nature, calls for mutual respect and trust. 

Finding a true advocate and sponsor requires a bit of work, according to the experts. First, you need to identify a mentor whom you connect with on a personal basis. You'll benefit from an adviser who is different enough from you to provide a new point of view but similar enough in values and goals to help you navigate a course to success. 

Next, you must invest yourself fully in the relationship, asking questions, showing interest in the life stories of your mentor, and helping to design the direction and mode of your learning experience. This is, after all, an active partnership that can help you cross the bridge from pharmacy neophyte to seasoned practitioner. 

Some pharmacy schools, such as Drake University College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences, in Des Moines, Iowa, offer material on mentoring. Inquire at your school for more information.