Background: The value of mentoring is recognized in many fields, including pharmacy, as a means for one person (mentor) to help another person (protegé) enhance his or her growth, knowledge and skills. The University of Alberta Faculty of Pharmacy and the Pharmacy Alumni Association conducted an 8-month mentorship pilot project involving pharmacy undergraduate students and alumni pharmacists. The focus was to assist students transitioning into the pharmacy workforce by providing guidance and advice from pharmacist mentors. Methods: A prototype mentorship model was developed. The model consisted of recruitment and matching processes and multiple structured and unstructured communication sessions (education and relationship-building). Seven student protegés and 7 licensed Alberta pharmacists participated in the pilot throughout the 2007-08 academic year. The formal evaluation was based on document reviews and participant interviews. Results: The key findings included: participants were very positive about the pilot program activities; both protegés and mentors would recommend participation to colleagues; the ideal year for participation was the third year in the pharmacy undergraduate program; the most beneficial pieces of advice were about change associated with early career development; 5 of 7 mentor/ protegé pairs planned to continue or were actually continuing communications; e-mail was the most efficient communication; finding the time to communicate was the major barrier. Discussion: The results from the pilot provided preliminary evidence that pharmacy students have similar mentorship needs as students in other disciplines and that a formal mentorship model can address these needs. The students had career-related and personal questions and interests that were addressed by the alumni pharmacist mentors. The mentorship model had sufficient processes and structure to build and maintain relationships and to satisfy mentorship needs. Conclusion: The pilot demonstrated that a pharmacy mentorship model can be successfully established and be of benefit to participants and potentially to pharmacy practice. Based on the findings, an expanded version of the program was implemented in the fall 2009 academic term.
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