Wait-There is a C (for Camaraderie) in Mentoring

By Shane Desselle, RPh, PhD, FAPhA

Formal mentoring programs of peers and junior faculty are quite prevalent in higher education. These programs vary in scope, but most have an underlying purpose to develop the scholarly potential of peers. Many definitions of mentoring exist; one that has been around for a while and is well-cited suggests that mentoring is a nurturing process where a mentor teaches, sponsors, coaches, and befriends a mentee in an ongoing and caring relationship.1 There is evidence supporting the benefit of formal mentoring programs. These benefits are accentuated when the personalities of the mentor and mentee are used in matching them and when socialization occurs under the guise of “whole life” mentoring rather than doing so strictly to develop a specific skill, such as teaching or grantsmanship.2

Collegiality and Camaraderie in Academia
Also increasingly recognized in academia is the importance of collegiality. Collegiality is essential for positive organizational outcomes, as well as to stem the tides of disengagement and scholarly anomie in both research and teaching. Definitions of collegiality are likewise plentiful, including its manifestation as acts of civility and as organizational citizenship behaviors. Included in these behaviors are acts of kindness, sportsmanship, and efforts at befriending colleagues. The definition of friendship under the broader auspices of collegiality is said to be “messy”. Even so, it is becoming clear that when we have more friendly relationships within these informal networks and even the more formal mentor-mentee dyadic pairs, we benefit in terms of our productivity and our quality of work life.3

The evidence on faculty well-being and productivity, as well as mentorship and organizational culture suggests, then, that we make a special effort to promote camaraderie, a concept embodying collegiality and social/friendly relationships. In a workplace marked by camaraderie, employees believe their coworkers see them as complete individuals with whom they have fun and celebrate both personal and company milestones.4 Camaraderie tends to be higher when employees match with the organization’s culture, stressing the importance of effective hiring and development of employees in an environment that connotes intimacy, hospitality, and community.4

Consulting the Evidence
There are an increasing number of reports on development programs in academic pharmacy for both students and faculty. Several mentoring programs for pharmacy students have mentioned improved camaraderie as one of the end goals. In a mentoring program for junior faculty, enhanced camaraderie was a reported benefit by at least one participant.5 However, promoting camaraderie in mentoring programs for pharmacy faculty either has not been incorporated as a primary objective, or that objective has gone unreported in the literature.

Camaraderie and friendship cannot be forced; only encouraged and fostered. Likewise, any decent, or at least somewhat successful mentoring program will likely result in some enhanced level of camaraderie and a few friendships along the way. At the same time, we have to approach mentoring and the development of mentorship programs as we do with other scholarly endeavors. That is, we need to look for best practices and consult the evidence. To that end, it would appear beneficial when designing a program to have stated objectives and mechanisms for assessing the success of that program. Additionally, as evidence points to the need to promote camaraderie, then doing so should be at least considered when developing the goals for a mentoring program, as well as a mechanism for assessing the camaraderie that is generated. Doing any less might be giving the program short shift.

References

1. Anderson E, Shannon A. Toward a conceptualization of mentoring. J Teacher Educ. 1988;39(1):38-42.

2. Menges C. Toward improving the effectiveness of formal mentoring programs: Matching by personality matters. Group Org Matters. 2015;41(1):98-129.

3. Baporikar N. Collegiality as a strategy for excellence in academia. Int J Strategic Change Manage. 2015;6(1):59-72.

4. Emmeche C. The borderology of friendship in academia. J Friendship Studies. 2015;3(1):40-59.

5. Pate A, Smith J, Caldwell D, Horace A, Zagar M. Development, implementation, and impact of a collaborative junior faculty engagement and professional growth program: The Young Faculty Leadership Initiative. Curr Pharm Teach Learn. 2018;10(3):352-9.


Desselle_profileShane Desselle is Professor of Social, Behavioral, and Administrative Pharmacy at Touro University California College of Pharmacy and Editor-in-Chief of Research in Social and Administrative Pharmacy (RSAP). In his spare time, Dr. Desselle enjoys sports (mostly watching, but also playing them), re-watching Game of Thrones episodes, and traveling to far away places.


Pulses is a scholarly blog supported by Currents in Pharmacy Teaching and Learning

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