How to Rise Above the Competition in the Pharmacy World

OCTOBER 23, 2017

The pharmacy world has become extremely competitive. The number of pharmacy schools is increasing at a rapid pace, with at least 4 new ones opening every year between 2005 and 2012, and several existing schools expanding, leading to an increase in enrollment numbers across the country.1,2 Pharmacists now hold doctorate of pharmacy as opposed to bachelor's degrees in pharmacy, and it seems that a residency is also required. So how can pharmacists stand out?

The adage "your network is your net worth" is 100% true when it comes to affording opportunities for advancement as a pharmacist. But how can pharmacists broaden their networks? What should introverts do or those who don't have mentors? Anyone can build a network of professional connections, but there is a highly successful way to go about this.

Where to Start
Before connecting to colleagues and finding mentors, pharmacists should make sure that they bring something to the table themselves. That is, become so good that they can't ignore you. Pharmacists should look at their skill sets to ensure that those are verifiable and quantifiable.

A pre-requisite for success is being incredibly good at something and having a specialization. Once pharmacists have developed those skills, their networks will allow them to take it to the next level. Having a broad network will undoubtedly serve pharmacists well in their careers and lives overall, as one of the benefits of having a supportive network is that it can provide a safety net in times of crisis, which can occur from time to time.

Make active, conscious decisions to build that network. Most professionals who have big, successful networks have done something that others may not have not done: reached out. And being an introvert is no excuse. Believe it or not, some of the most well-connected professionals are introverts. 

There are several reasons why taking action on these concepts can benefit pharmacists in the long run. Let's look at them.

Why to Reach Out
Some of the reasons that pharmacists may need to build a network include looking for a job, gaining publicity for a business, seeking a mentor, and searching for new employees and clients.

Those who truly want to broaden their networks should make reaching out a daily task. 
Specifically, they should reach out to 1 new person every business day, which could lead to more than 250 new connections over the course of a year.

Who to Target
Pharmacists should start with connections that they already have that have fallen by the wayside over time. Use social-media networks such as Facebook and LinkedIn to start this process.

And when they peruse an article, hear a great podcast, or read a great book, pharmacists should reach out to the expert involved. Instead of just commenting on an online article or video, make it personal by sending a private message or email. 

How to Reach Out
Pharmacists should be authentic, and only contact those in whom they are genuinely interested. 

When reaching out, be direct, by saying, "I read your article" or "I saw your post." Avoid the words "sorry" and "urgent."

Remember, too, that when sending email, it is important to keep messages short. Three to 5 sentences are ideal. The point of the message should be to start a conversation in order to get a reply. Do not pitch a deal right at the beginning.

Emails should start by addressing the person by name, and then pharmacists can provide a couple of sentences describing who they are. When sending a message, provide something of value, such as a specific compliment, and ask for a favor, which could be a small call to action to begin a conversation.

Some of the connections will turn into something incredible, but most will not, and that is OK.

The secret of getting ahead is getting started, and it is never too late to begin.3


1. National Association of Boards of Pharmacy. APha and ASHP release white paper exploring concerns about expansion of pharmacy education. Published December 22, 2010. Accessed October 24, 2017.

2. LewinGroup for the US Department of Health and Human Services. The adequacy of pharmacist supply: 2004 to 2030 Published December 31, 2008. Accessed October 24, 2017.

3. Beck, Molly. Reach Out: The Simple Strategy You Need to Expand Your Network and Increase Your Influence. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education; 2017.

Adam Martin, PharmD, ACSM-CPT
Adam Martin, PharmD, ACSM-CPT
Dr. Martin is a licensed pharmacist, having earned his doctorate of pharmacy degree from the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy in 2012. He is the founder of TheFitPharmacist movement, which strives to empower pharmacists and pharmacy students to thrive in their careers by overcoming stress and unhealthy habits using science-based principles and unmatched support. His passion for helping those in pharmacy led to TheFitPharmacist Podcast on the PharmacyPodcast network, where he provides practical tips for staying healthy while working at the pharmacy, along with interviewing professionals in the top of their respective fields to bring their knowledge right to your earbuds. He merges his passion of pharmacy with the experts in nutrition through being the owner and nutrition consultant at The Diet Doc Pittsburgh North, with the company having over 25 years of success. Learn more and join TheFitPharmacist movement at