By Christopher S. Wisniewski, PharmD, MSCR, BCPS; Audrey Kostrzewa, PharmD, MPH, BCPS; Priya Shenoy, BSN, MLIS; Melissa L. Hunter, PharmD, RPh
Literature describing mentorship within a professional pharmacy organization is sparse. In the world of library and information sciences (LIS) [eg, drug information (DI), medical literature evaluation (MLE)], colleges of pharmacy typically have 1 faculty member or librarian dedicated to teaching these concepts,1 meaning content is developed individually. In order to unite these like-minded academicians, the Membership Committee of the LIS Section of the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) developed a mentorship program. The program connects librarians and pharmacist faculty, allowing them to share ideas, experiences, successes, frustrations, and career plans.
How did we find them?
Implemented in August 2017, the program included 12.6% (n = 15/119) of LIS Section members. The initial 3 groups included 5 members who self-identified as a mentor (n = 2; 1 DI faculty and 1 librarian) or mentee (n = 3). The groups had members from different parts of the country.
No direction regarding leadership, meeting frequency, or discussion topics was provided. One individual in each group volunteered to lead, and then groups coordinated meetings for the 2017-18 academic year. Groups met approximately every other month via videoconference. Discussion topics included scholarship, academic career duties and expectations, uncommon information resources, student assignments and evaluation, stress management, and current events.
After 10 months of program activity, participants were asked about their experience. Following recusal of the 4 authors, comments were solicited from 11 participants regarding benefits and suggestions for improvement (Table 1). Eight of 11 (73%) participants provided feedback; a breakdown of mentor/mentee or pharmacist/librarian comments was not conducted due to the small sample size.
Table 1. Benefits and Suggestions for Improvement
What It Means to Us
As participants (3 mentors, 1 mentee) of the program who teach information sciences, we have found the biggest benefit is engaging with others like us. From networking, we know that LIS educators lack someone on their campus who can help develop information sciences teaching methodology, so we have created a community where LIS educators can go for assistance. Video-conferencing with colleagues to learn about ways that DI, literature searching, evidence-based medicine, and MLE are being taught has proven meaningful and important for professional growth. Mentor authors feel the opportunity to share experience gained and lessons learned from years of teaching is fulfilling because it directly correlates with being an educator. Mentors also gain new perspectives and innovative ideas from mentees, learning from the interprofessional nature of the groups. Beyond hearing different perspectives and ideas, mentees gain a support system, a sounding board for innovation, and vetted teaching tools.
We share ideas, lessons, tools, and methodology. We vent about encountered problems, whether it be with students, administration, or pressures of academia. We learn about how pharmacy education works in different places. We work together to innovate. We develop scholarly endeavors, including this report. Other anecdotal positives include mentees feeling more comfortable at national meetings because of developed mentorship-program relationships. Finally, one mentor used an article2 suggested by a mentee to grade literature searching questions and another mentor is planning a similar mentorship initiative on their campus for interdisciplinary groups. All in only 1 year!
What It Means to You
We feel that a similar program would benefit others, created via AACP sections or other national organizations.3 While non-pharmacist involvement makes LIS unique, the need for more inter-college collaboration and mentoring of pharmacy faculty exists.4 Normalized methodology for developing the mentorship program is unnecessary, although we suggest each group include at least 2 seasoned faculty members to provide the experience required to help younger faculty. Even though we have not tried larger groups, five-member groups seem to work well for scheduling efficiency and personal-relationship development within each group. Other effective mentorship-group characteristics include scheduling the 90-minute meetings via polling (rather than standing times) and pre-selection of a meeting topic so group members can prepare for discussion. We feel that group meetings work best, but there is an opportunity for individualized mentorship within groups.
In summary, discipline-specific mentor-mentee groups that include members from across multiple schools and colleges of pharmacy has proven fruitful. We feel that the first year of the program was a major success and are recruiting more LIS section members to create additional groups. Strengths of the program include interdisciplinary interaction, networking and support from colleagues, and novel opportunities unavailable without the program. Beyond expanding the program, there is opportunity for improved structure and formal evaluation of the program. We may develop a list of discussion topics for groups and assess whether program participation increases LIS section member retention. The LIS Section Membership Committee is dedicated to supporting the mentorship program. This will be a standing agenda item in which evaluation and advancement of the program are discussed at every committee meeting. We hope this post encourages others to attempt a similar program using ours as a model.
We would like to acknowledge Rob Beckett, PharmD, BCPS, for promoting and encouraging the development of the AACP LIS mentorship program during his time as chair-elect and chair.
1. Hoover RM, Hunter ML, Krueger KP. Survey of faculty workload and operational characteristics for academic drug information centers. Currents Pharm Teach Learn. 2018;10:579-83.
2. Rana GK, Bradley DR, Hamstra SJ, et al. A validated search assessment tool: assessing practice-based learning and improvement in a residency program. J Med Libr Assoc. 2011;99:77-81.
3. American Society of Health-System Pharmacists Website. Mentor Match FAQs. 〈http://connect.ashp.org/participate/mentoring/mentor-faq〉. Accessed August 21, 2018.
4. Huggins CE. On being a successful clinician educator: lessons learned to share with new practitioners. Currents Pharm Teach Learn. 2017;9:349-52.
Chris Wisniewski is an associate professor at the Medical University of South Carolina. Educational scholarship interests include innovative teaching styles, student learning and retention, and sharing learned experiences in drug information education. In his free time, Chris enjoys being a daddy and playing bar trivia.
Audrey Kostrzewa is an Assistant Professor of Pharmacy Practice at Concordia University Wisconsin School of Pharmacy. Educational scholarship interests include medical literature evaluation education, medication safety, and public health. In her free time, Audrey enjoys board/card games and spending time with her growing family.
Priya Shenoy is the Graduate Health Professions Librarian at Drake University. Educational scholarship interests include drug information education and data-driven decision making for electronic resources. In her free time, Priya enjoys cooking and traveling.
Melissa Hunter is the Drug Information Director at the University of Wyoming. Educational scholarship interests include mentorship programs and drug information resource utilization. In her free time, Melissa enjoys camping and being a soccer mom.
Pulses is a scholarly blog supported by Currents in Pharmacy Teaching and Learning