Alex Barker, PharmD
Alex Barker, PharmD
Alex Barker is the founder of The Happy PharmD, which helps pharmacists create an inspiring career, break free from the mundane "pill-flipping" life. He is a Full-time Pharmacist, Media Company founder, franchise owner, Business Coach, Speaker, and Author. He's also the Founder of Pharmacy School HQ, which helps students get into pharmacy school and become residents.

Why Pharmacists Feel Trapped in Their Jobs

FEBRUARY 09, 2016

The dark side of pharmacy is easy to find. Perform a simple Google search for “pharmacy jobs” and you will quickly find out why some pharmacists hate their jobs.

The statistics don’t look so great, either. The 2014 National Pharmacist Workforce Survey found a significant decrease in community pharmacist satisfaction from 2000.
 
But community pharmacists aren’t the only ones who were disappointed. Two-thirds of all pharmacists felt like they did not have a high level of control in their work environment.
 
Do these pharmacists truly hate their jobs? Are they mad at aggravating customer experiences or the increasing job market competition?
 
What if the way they think spurs their hatred, rather than actual events or situations? Is it possible for anyone to be happy in a frustrating work environment?

Consider this: Forbes rated Visa as one of the happiest American companies in 2015.
 
Do you have any idea how frustrating it can be to work at a major credit card company? Can you imagine talking to customers every day about credit charges that “don’t belong” on their accounts?
 
Are Visa employees happier than pharmacists because they think differently?
 
Here’s the honest truth that no one wants to admit:

  • No one is forcing you to go into work tomorrow.
  • Your boss isn’t making you attend work.
  • Your family didn’t sign your employment contract for you.
  • Your angry customers don’t force you to be angry.
You make those decisions. You decide your response to every aggravating situation. Right now, you are deciding how you feel about this article as you read it.
 
Let me share with you the story of a man who had every reason to hate his job and even give up on living.
 
Viktor Frankl was a prisoner in a Nazi concentration camp. During his imprisonment, he realized that the Nazis had taken away everything: his family, his job, his possessions. Except, they couldn't take one thing from him: his choices.

After this revelation, Frankl decided to make the best of the situation. He chose to believe that he would survive his imprisonment. He chose to look at the bright side, despite the overwhelming depressing truth.
 
While many of his comrades died because they lost hope, he survived the Holocaust.
 
In his book, Man's Search for Meaning, Frankl explained that “What is the meaning of my life?” is a poor question. Rather, life is asking you, “What is the meaning of your life?” With every situation that life throws your way, it is asking you how you will respond.

This should be empowering for you. Why? Because this question puts you in charge of how you react to everything.

You control your emotions. You train your emotions to react.

Henry Ford said it best: “Whether you think you’re right or wrong, you’re probably right.”
 
If you believe that the world is out to get you, or that you’re going to have a bad day at your job, or that your management will never change, then you’re right. It will probably stay that way.
But what if you’re wrong?
 
What if you could change your job? What if you stopped buying things you don't need? What if you stopped chasing after others’ approval? What if you chose to live below your means, allocate the difference towards debt, and quit your job to start a new career, even one outside of traditional pharmacy?
 
This isn’t a call for all pharmacy staff to walk off the job. It’s a call to change your perspective.
You don't have to be a victim of your circumstances anymore. You can start in small steps today to take control over your emotions, jobs, and life.
 
Dedicate some time every week to learn new ways to improve your work situation, finances, and relationships. Read books like Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell or The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People—both of which changed how I view life.
 
Anything difficult is worth doing, but it’s not easy.

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