The INFJ Pharmacist

DECEMBER 10, 2017
Admittedly I’ve become somewhat of a management and leadership junkie over the past year or 2. Although I’ve managed pharmacies for about 6 years, my current pharmacy has provided challenges and opportunities that others have not; this is partially because of the type of pharmacy (owned by a hospital, but operated more as an independent, with a lot of autonomy and responsibility compared to a chain pharmacy), and partially because of the number of people that I lead.

I realized quickly after arriving that leading 10 people is much more of a challenge than leading 3. This includes keeping the pharmacy, and the people working in it, all moving in the right direction with our programs as well as managing the day-to-day operations. This includes managing interpersonal conflict that inevitably comes when you have ten different personalities, strengths and weaknesses, and needs and you put them together working toward a common goal.

I have in particular been fascinated with the Meyers-Briggs personality types recently. In the past I never put much stock in that type of thing, probably because I was remembering the career tests I took in middle school that told me I should be a lumberjack or a pilot (or something like that). However, I took the Meyers-Briggs test last year and read more about the personality that I ‘scored,’ INFJ, and was shocked when I was reading to finally see a description of me that felt like someone understood what made me tick, my aspirations in life, and my values and predicted my behaviors in the workplace and at home accurately. What didn’t surprise me was to find out that I had the rarest personality type in the general population, representing around 1% of people. I never have felt that I fit in well to typical goals like making budget, getting a bonus, getting a promotion, etc. Even buying a house has not ever been on my bucket list in life. In fact, although I ultimately decided not to, I almost spent 2 years after pharmacy graduation joining the Peace Corps (and deciding not to, by the way, had nothing to do with lost wages).    

INFJ’s are described as idealistic introverts who will work tirelessly to right a wrong and as a group view their purpose in life as helping other people. They will use creativity and imagination in a lifelong effort to create balance in the world, which they see as needlessly filled with hate, conflict, inequality, and wrong. INFJ’s are inspiring, altruistic, decisive and persistent, yet are also perfectionistic, overly sensitive, and always need to pursue a cause. Their passion and zeal for a cause they truly believe in can lead them to exert so much energy in it that they feel burned out and stressed where, because of their introversion, they must then retreat to solidarity to recharge.

Understanding these traits has helped me better work within the business environment by creating mutual purpose for both me and for my employer. I have grown to accept that our goals will never line up completely–some corporate goals could be strictly to reduce expenses, for example; however, projects that I decide to launch with my team are now mostly ones that will both help me ‘save the world’ and will lead to a concrete improvement in some number that the company will be held accountable for, like revenue, patient satisfaction, or 30-day readmissions. Most of us would agree there is no shortage of projects in health care that will fit both needs. In addition, I have come to terms with the fact that nonprofits are just as dependent on revenue as for-profits. I still remember, because I have reflected on it a lot, when my current supervisor (I work for a nonprofit) gave me this bit of wisdom: “if you don’t have any money you can’t help anyone.” No matter how much we care and want to help, money is a tool that can catalyze projects for the greater good. What I think many others can learn, however, from an INFJ is that money is only a tool–nothing more. It isn’t something to chase, to brag about or show off, and certainly not to center your life or career decisions around.

What is your Meyers-Briggs type? If you haven’t taken the test and read about your personality type you should, especially if you feel like you are missing something in your practice as a pharmacist. It is one of the most important things you can do on your path to finding happiness and fulfillment in your daily work, because you need both a role that fits your personality and you need figure out how to practice pharmacy in a way that best suits your personality. Every personality type brings important strengths to the table; every personality also has weaknesses that you are better off identifying early on so you can actively mitigate them.

My favorite website to both identify and read about your personality (and others’) is called 16Personalities, and is the source of the INFJ personality descriptions here as well. Happy reading!


Alex Evans, PharmD, CGP
Alex Evans, PharmD, CGP
Alex Evans, PharmD, CGP, works in community pharmacy in Jacksonville, Florida, and is preceptor at the University of Florida and Florida AM University. He graduated from the University of North Carolina-Greensboro with a BS in Biology and graduated from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill with a Doctor of Pharmacy degree. He has worked in both the community and long-term care settings. He can be reached at alex.evans.pharmd@gmail.com
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