Transitioning from Mentee to Mentor

When I first graduated from pharmacy school, I was inwardly focused on climbing the proverbial corporate ladder and achieving success with somewhat of a notion as to what success meant (promotion, money, influence, autonomy). At times, I think I used my mentors for their advice to help reach goals that mattered to me. You could say that it worked for a while, but within a few short years it sort of backfired. Once I received the promotions, raises, influence, and autonomy, I became more confused about my purpose and the spark that drove me while in pharmacy school was fading.

Then I got a call.

Professor Joe Fink from the University of Kentucky College of Pharmacy (UK) gave me a call one afternoon to check in and to mention opportunities to pursue additional education in pharmaceutical outcomes, economics, and policy. He remembered how much I loved to write, teach, present, and be engaged in causes greater than any one individual. I thought it was amazing how much my mentors continued to help and donate their time to see me succeed, long after graduation. That conversation was essentially the catalyst that led me on the journey to the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy where I have been able to regain that lost spark and pursue a new mission.

As an Assistant Professor here in Baltimore, I have been blessed with a platform to shift my focus outward and do a better job at helping others without worrying about “What is in it for me?” or the other measurements of success I found valuable just a few years ago. While I still have obligations to be a productive faculty member for my employer, I’m finally realizing that my success will not be determined by the titles or awards with my name on them but rather the exponential influence that is possible if I focus more on mentoring the next generation.

Students now routinely ask for my advice and my guidance. I’ll be honest, that scares me at times. Who am I to be giving advice? What have I achieved? What if I tell them the wrong thing? What if they fail because they listened to me? These insecurities still swirl in my head but in a way it has motivated me to get better. I’m sure at times I give off the appearance of a confident professional who knows a thing or two, but deep down I know I don’t have all of the answers and I need to keep growing.

I apologize if this piece seems a little rough and unpolished, but I had a few minutes to reflect this morning while finishing my coffee. I was thinking about ways in which I want to show gratitude for those who have been so generous with their time with me (friends, family, former faculty, colleagues at UMB, etc.) and the first thing that came to mind was to just say something. As I work to become half the mentor to my students that my former professors were to me, after two years at UMB I’m slowly starting to understand the effort involved as well as the joy that comes with seeing these students grow.

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Joey
Joey Mattingly, PharmD, MBA is an assistant professor at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy located in Baltimore, Maryland. Joey has managed retail and long-term care pharmacy operations in Kentucky, Illinois and Indiana. Leading Over The Counter is a blog of Joey's views and opinions on the topics of pharmacy leadership and management and do not represent the University of Maryland, Baltimore. Joey can be followed on Twitter @joeymattingly.

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