5 Things I Wish I Learned in Pharmacy School

MAY 18, 2015
Back when I enrolled in pharmacy school, I noticed there were no courses taught on things I could have really used in the profession. Here is a list of the things I wished pharmacy school required students to learn prior to becoming pharmacists:

1. Teamwork

In my opinion, one of the biggest problems in the pharmacy profession is the lack of teamwork among pharmacists. The profession tends to attract the introverted personality. These individuals like to work alone and receive their energy from being alone, so they become drained in social situations.

Brainstorming and collaboration can be lost because this requires working together as a team and supporting one another. One of the biggest themes running through my career is working not as a team, but as a loner to advance only your own agenda.

No matter the setting, the best-run pharmacies today have strong teamwork and collective pride. Pharmacists need to work as a team not only together, but also with nursing and physician teams, among others.

Another issue is the divide between clinical and distribution roles in the hospital. In the hierarchy of treatment, distribution pharmacists seem to be on the bottom, though I know many order-entry pharmacists who could run circles around a clinical pharmacist who just graduated and completed a residency. 

2. Management skills

Pharmacists do not learn management skills in pharmacy school, and most of the time, on-the-job training by another manager only passes along the same bad habits of the previous pharmacy manager.

In my many years spent working as a pharmacist, I can only think of a couple of really good leaders. What made them excel was their grasp on how the pharmacy should operate and also their willingness to step in when needed.

Most of the time, management in pharmacy means a 9-to-5 job that doesn't require working on weekends or holidays. Very rarely do I see middle management taking the opportunity to really lead, rather than believing their position means order entry and clinical shifts are not in their job description anymore.

3. Conflict resolution

I believe conflict resolution should be taught in pharmacy school, so pharmacists would be able to handle issues where a couple of individuals may not agree.

Many times in the day-to-day grind, there are opportunities to get a good grasp on how to deal with conflict. Emotional intelligence goes a long way, and I would have liked to have been taught this skill in pharmacy school.

4. Finance

I had 2 semester of accounting, and I believe learning more about finance in the health care model would have been worth it after graduation, whether you are running your own store or managing a hospital department budget.

5. Emotional intelligence

A higher emotional intelligence usually equals better career satisfaction, job performance, and leadership skills.

Beth Lofgren, PharmD, BCPS
Beth Lofgren, PharmD, BCPS
Beth Lofgren, PharmD, BCPS, received her PharmD degree from the University of Tennessee at Memphis in 1999, after completing a BS at the University of Tennessee at Martin. She started her pharmacy career in retail and has practiced in home health, long-term care, and hospital pharmacy. She has also been blogging as the Blonde Pharmacist since 2004, focusing on education for peers and provider status for pharmacists.
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