Peer support and mentoring for registered pharmacy professionals

Nina Barnett, Consultant Pharmacist, Medicines Use and Safety (SPS)Published

This page describes how pharmacy professionals can undertake peer support and peer mentoring with colleagues to support personal professional development.


The professional wellbeing of registered pharmacy professionals has been highlighted by the Chief Pharmaceutical Officers of the UK, underlining the importance of feeling supported and cared for at work. Peer support and mentoring provides a structure for pharmacy professionals to reflect on their practice, share experiences and explore their professional development need.

Peer support and mentoring is not a new concept. In nursing and medicine, the term ‘Clinical Supervision’ is used to describe three aspects of support which include peer support and mentoring:

  1. Normative:  Providing the practitioner with guidance on standard procedures and best practice
  2. Formative:  Working together to identify practitioner learning needs, create action plans and reflect on learning after implementation.
  3. Restorative: Supporting the practitioner to explore and manage challenges, complexity and other pressures in their role and, where practitioners may feel overwhelmed, signposting to other services where needed.

This model was developed by Brigid Proctor. See here for further information.

Peer mentoring

In pharmacy, the term “mentoring” is often used to describe the formative element of clinical supervision. Formal and informal mentors with experience in a particular area of practice can support a practitioner new to that area with their professional development needs.

Recognising that this not always available, the process of peer mentoring can be used with colleagues of a similar level of experience to promote mutual professional development.

Peer support

Peer support can be used when colleagues are challenged with managing complexity and change and this process is similar to the restorative aspect of Proctor’s model of clinical supervision. Having a discussion between individuals (or in groups) from the same profession can be helpful because of shared professional understanding, though this can also be effectively undertaken with multidisciplinary colleagues. Primary care network (PCN) pharmacists have suggested that they would welcome both peer mentoring and peer support as part of their roles.

A podcast series to illustrate peer support (restorative clinical supervision)

The following three podcasts are examples which illustrate how 1:1 and group peer support can take place. In these podcasts, discussions often start with individuals reflecting on a specific case or situation and are then led, through open discussion to contextualise their experiences in terms of their professional practice and development.

  1. Introducing psychological wellbeing using a case study example
    • Professor Nina Barnett and Dr Barry Jubraj discuss a case study to illustrate how peer support can be used to help those feeling overwhelmed or struggling to cope with a changing environment.
  2. 1:1 professional debriefing between two pharmacists
    • The example discusses a critical care case which had a personal impact, but the method will be helpful for anyone during the COVID 19 pandemic and beyond.
  3. Group peer support with an ITU colleague during COVID-19
    • In this recording, Professor Nina Barnett and Dr Barry Jubraj explore the use of group peer support (restorative clinical supervision) with Sarraa Al-Mahdi, Lead Specialist Critical Care Pharmacist at London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust. This discussion focuses on Sarraa’s experience of the pressures of working in ITU during the COVID-19 pandemic however is relevant to clinicians across all sectors struggling with complexity and uncertainty in their own practice.

Additional Resources

To complement the recordings above this document: Wellbeing and accessing support during the COVID-19 pandemic  is aimed at pharmacy staff, attached below.

Other resources include: