Summer is an exciting time because the reinforcements arrive. Of course, I am referring to new graduates and pharmacists who have completed residency programs and graduate programs who become pharmacy colleagues. They renew the ranks with their optimism and enthusiasm, but their confidence is questionable, and most have not practiced independently. Once they have satisfied licensure requirements and begin practicing independently, they realize their responsibility and what is at stake.
This is a critically important time for new pharmacists because they are quite vulnerable and impressionable. During their first months of practice, they become "imprinted," based on their early experiences as well as their interactions with peers, their leaders, and the organizations they join (along with both their employer and their professional associates).
New colleagues will rapidly develop a professional attitude and begin to prioritize practice philosophies. I have had the good fortune to participate in leadership seminars by retired Gen James L. Anderson, who has 2 business cards, each with different messages. Each message begins with, "Attitudes are contagious." One message concludes, "Yours is worth catching!" and the other concludes, "Is yours worth catching?" You can imagine to whom he distributes these business cards. I agree with General Anderson's philosophy, and I fervently appeal to everyone to align new colleagues with practitioners who have a positive, optimistic, and caring attitude.
All of these new colleagues need a mentor?an advisor they can trust, someone to be a resource and a professional guide. Their mentor should supplement their formal orientation and training with the softer element of joining a group of providers by introducing them to other staff members, taking them to lunch or dinner, and helping them anticipate situations and their role in matters they never learned about in their formal education and training.
I suggest that we as pharmacists consider our responsibility for making these reinforcements as good as they can be by being sensitive to their vulnerability and anxieties, and by following a few rules:
Most of us know that investing a little more time in the beginning of their employment will pay off for years to come. As far as a message to the "reinforcements" is concerned, I suggest that the following be considered:
I hope that you are excited and invigorated by your newest colleagues. Please join me in welcoming them to the ranks!
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