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.

How One Pharmacist Transitioned to Sales and Later, Writing

MARCH 20, 2017
When Brad was in school, his love of life science, medical science, and chemistry led him to pursue his pharmacy degree. However, after a few years of working in retail and hospital settings, Brad became bored with the repetition and tedium of filling prescriptions all day.
 
Although Brad enjoyed learning about pharmacy, it turned out that he didn’t actually enjoy doing the job.
 
This problem affects many pharmacists — they enjoy studying pharmacy in school but end up feeling lukewarm about the job after they enter the workforce. Unfortunately, most of those pharmacists continue working in a job that they find unfulfilling because of the large financial and personal investment they made in pharmacy school.
 
But not Brad.

Determined to find a career that he was passionate about, he began networking with the friendly pharmaceutical sales representatives that showed up at his pharmacy. He found that was drawn to them and began asking them questions about their jobs.
 
After realizing that his personality was well-suited to sales, Brad began working for a microscope company and selling the company’s products to researchers at universities and pharmaceutical companies.
 
Brad’s sales career allowed him to use his pharmacy knowledge and combine it with sales and marketing. Instead of being stuck behind the pharmacy counter counting by fives, Brad spent his days traveling to visit his customers.
 
Working in sales was so appealing to Brad that he decided to start his own business as a manufacturing representative. Brad and his staff were hired to sell products for manufacturers that didn’t have or couldn’t afford their own sales force—and after a few years, business was great.
 
When he was a pharmacist, Brad brought home an annual salary of around $100,000. As the owner of his own manufacturing representative firm, Brad was paid on commission and made around $250,000 per year — more than twice his salary as a pharmacist. Best of all, he was on the road doing what he loved.
 
Another Transition
 
After a while, Brad’s sales career ended. With the rise of Internet sales and marketing, Brad found that manufacturers needed fewer and fewer sales representatives. Unenthused about the prospect of returning to full-time pharmacy, Brad picked up some temporary pharmacy jobs and began thinking about his new calling.
 
He read the book, “Do What You Are: Discover the Perfect Career for You” by Paul D. Teiger and took a personality test to determine what career was the best fit for him. Brad’s personality test revealed that he was suited to being creative and self-employed—and that he should avoid tedious tasks.
 
Brad’s years in sales gave him tons of experience talking to customers and producing written marketing content, so he decided to start his own medical writing business. He built a website, read books on writing and began marketing his services and networking with his sales contacts.
 
Brad is now working as a medical writer — although he admits that he slightly prefers sales because of the personal contact and sense of gratification.
 
Don’t Settle
 
Here’s the lesson: If you are unhappy or unfulfilled as a pharmacist, don’t settle. Find something you love to do, even if it is a side job.
 
If you want more out of your career, Brad said that you should start by taking a personality test to determine what job might be a good fit for you. After you find your niche, you should begin to read books, network, and acquire the skills and education you need to become an expert.
 
No matter what job you choose, Brad said that having a business coach in your corner is a huge help. A coach could have provided him with valuable guidance and helped him to find that crucial first customer faster, he said.
 
If you want more information on finding your true calling through coaching, please visit my website at http://alexbarker.co/.
 
Life is too short to not like your job, Brad said. For him, the old adage has always held true: “Do what you love and love what you do and you will never work a day in your life.”


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