What do you imagine when you hear the word “brand”? Although a logo or another image that differentiates one company from another might pop immediately to mind, the word can also be associated with individual health care professionals. If you are a future pharmacist, your brand is defined by how you are perceived by your peers and patients, as well as the way in which you distinguish yourself in your field. With the job market becoming increasingly competitive and information becoming more easily accessible, it is essential to establish your brand as a health care provider and learn how to market yourself to current colleagues and future employers.

The potential jobs for graduating pharmacists are changing and expanding. New opportunities arise every year for graduates to take on more nontraditional roles in business, marketing, and managed care within the pharmaceutical industry. Additionally, with provider status on the horizon, pharmacists are poised to play a larger part on the health care team. No matter if you work in a community pharmacy, an institutional setting, or the pharmaceutical industry, your brand will be instrumental in identifying you as a successful health care professional.

So what goes into developing your own authentic brand? Well, you do! It’s important to be genuine when you talk with patients and colleagues, emphasizing your strengths without exaggeration. If you try to develop a brand that doesn’t truly reflect who you are as a person and a professional, you will succeed only at creating a false image of yourself that you will not be able to live up to in the future.

Remember, too, that as a health care provider, you are essentially running your own personal business, and you need to advertise what you have to offer. After all, there’s no point in developing your own brand if no one knows about it! Networking is crucial to marketing your skills and experience. Each time you meet someone new, be sure to focus your attention on that person, exchange contact information, and follow up with a quick e-mail expressing your gratitude for the conversation. Remember to touch base with these individuals from time to time.

Social media can also be an invaluable networking tool. As you connect with other health care professionals via sites such as LinkedIn, be sure to update your page with your latest credentials and accomplishments, remove anything that might reflect poorly on you, and consider adding a personal touch to set yourself apart.

Finally, train yourself to view each interaction with a patient or fellow provider as an opportunity to grow as a pharmacist and further develop your brand. Whenever you are presented with a task, think about how you want to perform and how that performance will exemplify your work. Be personable and confident, as this kind of attitude often resonates with others. And, perhaps most important, as you craft your brand and build your reputation, always ensure that you live up to the image that you created for yourself.

Building relationships and distinguishing yourself within the pharmacy profession are more paramount today than ever before. Not only can establishing a solid professional and personal brand open doors for you as you embark on your new career, but it will also help you reap benefits and define your work as a health care provider long into the future.
 
Stephen C. Howell is a 2018 PharmD candidate at the University of Kentucky (UK) College of Pharmacy and an MBA candidate at the UK Gatton College of Business and Economics.