Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

The Influence of an Academic Pharmacy Mentorship Program on Mentees' Commitment to Pursue an Academic Career

Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

The Influence of an Academic Pharmacy Mentorship Program on Mentees' Commitment to Pursue an Academic Career

Article excerpt

The objective of this study was to determine the influence of the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) Walmart Scholars Program on mentees' attitudes towards and decision to pursue a career in academia. Upon completion of the AACP Walmart (*) Scholars Program, wherein mentor-mentee pairs attend the AACP Annual Meeting to learn about academic pharmacy careers, mentees wrote essays evaluating the program. Their views on academic pharmacy careers were analyzed for themes in the evaluations. Of the mentees who addressed the impact of the program on their perspectives on a career in academic pharmacy, over half stated the program positively influenced pursuit of such a career. This reinforces the importance of mentorship for those interested in or new to academic pharmacy.

Keywords: academia, faculty, mentorship, mentor

INTRODUCTION

Mentorship in academia has long been a mainstay in training, assisting, and developing new faculty members. The field of pharmacy is no different, and with increased demand for faculty members as new pharmacy schools open around the country, it is important to develop new faculty members early in their careers. The American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) Walmart Scholars Program pairs promising pharmacy students, residents, fellows, and graduate students in the pharmaceutical sciences who wish to pursue a career in pharmacy education with mentors who can guide them through their evolution into faculty members.

The role of the mentor in developing these candidates cannot be understated. Frankel and colleagues found that a pharmacist's confidence and development of a sense of responsibility after graduation were directly linked to the quality of mentorship received during pharmacy school. (1) Expanding upon this and recognizing the need to increase the number of people interested in academic pharmacy positions, a task force from the Council of Faculties and Council of Deans at AACP developed a set of recommendations regarding academic pharmacy. These recommendations included constructing a mentoring program to expose students, residents, fellows, and others to the positive elements of the academy. (2) Similarly, a coalition of faculty members from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences College of Pharmacy stated the necessity for mentoring programs, especially for junior faculty members, across all schools and colleges of pharmacy. (3)

In a survey of more than 1,000 faculty members, approximately 59% stated that encouragement from one or more faculty members had a strong influence on their decision to continue their education and pursue postgraduate training. (4) Likewise, the influence of a mentor inspired students completing a community pharmacy residency to pursue their goals of a career in academia. (5) Time and again, studies, surveys, and data collection have shown that a strong mentoring relationship can increase junior faculty member retention. This may be partially due to the decrease in stress junior faculty members experience when they have a strong working relationship with their mentor. (6) Across the fields of dentistry, medicine, nursing, and pharmacy, junior faculty members cited not having a mentor as a barrier to scholarship, (7-9) which is an important component of an academic career. Furthermore, a survey of residents pursuing academic medicine revealed that 93% of respondents felt that mentorship was important to making the decision to pursue an academic career. (10) Many pharmacy programs have established formal mentorship programs as a means of developing successful pharmacy faculty members.

The fact that mentors are often critically important to the success of new faculty members speaks not only to the importance of training mentors in how to effectively coach their proteges, it also highlights the necessity of developing programs to bring mentors and mentees together. The AACP Walmart Scholars Program serves and expands upon this. …

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