Ok, I’m starting to feel a bit…guilty.
In writing an original post, then creating a 5-part mini series about the 5 Roads out of Retail Pharmacy, I’m worried that I may appear to be discounting or even trashing retail pharmacy.
I learned a LOT of valuable lessons about managing people and caring for patients through my various retail pharmacy practice experiences. I also learned a lot of soft skills through those experiences as well – like patience, fortitude, endurance, creativity and problem-solving – that I never would have learned inside a classroom.
So, I’m going to propose that I do this. I’m going to write 5 Ways to LOVE your Community Practice Pharmacy Career, right here, right now. I’m going to include ideas that I employed during my retail pharmacy times that helped increase my personal job satisfaction, or that others have employed, and hopefully it will in turn help you, if you’re in pharmacy, healthcare, or maybe even any profession.
5 Roads Into Loving your Retail Pharmacy Career:
1. Own it – why not own your own store? It’s becoming a reality for many pharmacists these days. Shout out to one of the wholesalers in particular who helps pharmacy owners take their businesses and their professions to the next level. Many pharmacists long to be their own bosses. In fact, back in the day, EVERY pharmacist was a business owner, because there were no pharmacy chains. So, if you’re going to be in it to win it, why not own it? I’ve never owned a pharmacy, but I acted like an owner when I was the pharmacist in charge of my first pharmacy – so “ownership” doesn’t need to be literal–it can be a mindset here too!
2. Niche it – I have a friend in retail (large chain) who created a really interesting niche for herself in community practice pharmacy, which led her to meeting the US Surgeon General! There are pharmacies (yes, even in chains) that specialize different areas of pharmacy practice. So, even if you work in a huge chain, ask yourself the following: what are my passions within this profession? Also, ask your CUSTOMERS what their needs are as well. Do you have an older population, a younger/new family population, or something else? Find and fill their needs, and in doing so, you may just have created yourself an amazing career corner in practice! Even better – once you become the “go to” guy or gal, can you help train others about it in your company? Who does compounding in your neck of the woods? If everyone is a hot potato with it, why not own it and run with it? What about wellness? What about preventative care?
3. Get out of the fishbowl – Just like Hazel Walker described this week on the Pharmacy Podcast, you need to build a network inside the profession of pharmacy and OUTSIDE. That INCLUDES networking in your local community, with the patients you serve. My first couple of pharmacy experiences had me surrounded by glass around the pharmacy – so we used to joke that sometimes, we needed to “get out of the fishbowl.” Examples of this: could you get out into the community and discover nursing homes that need adherence packaging for their patients that you could help with? Is there an acute facility in a rural setting that could use your pharmacy’s help? Do you have a hospice program in your community you could partner with? If you’re the new kid on the block, why not get out and say hi to the doctors in your local community? Get out of the fishbowl and investigate!
4. Step up – Volunteer. Do extra work. Show upper management that you want to train/teach/beta test/write/speak/ manage/help/recruit others and grow within your company or chain. Be the liaison between your pharmacy school alma mater and your chain. Take students on rotation and precept. The more you do and do well, the more you’ll get noticed, which is critical if you want to move up in the company you’re working within.
5. Play nice with others – This is a combo of all the 4 previous steps, but ask yourself how you and your pharmacy business can play nicely with others. Is there a visiting nurse service you could partner with in the community? Is there a way you could organize a community task force for disaster relief if, God forbid, something happens to your community? What about a tox away day? Can you set up a phone tree with other pharmacists to prevent theft and diversion in pharmacy? What can you do with strong non profits in your area that would help the community? Can you bring the community IN to your pharmacy to hang out and be a spot of joy and hope for your neighborhood, instead of another icky task they have to check off of their list? Ask yourself one more time what your strengths are, and how you can add them to your world around you to create a better retail pharmacy world. Maybe that’s through a broader, interprofessional pathway that could lead you to feeling FANTASTIC about your career of pharmacy.
After all, you picked a great profession! The sky is the limit….!