As you begin to make decisionsabout where to focus your pharmacycareer, this choice needs to beapproached with as much thoughtand planning as your decision toenter pharmacy. Most students Ihave talked with have entered pharmacyafter much deliberation. Theyworked in a pharmacy in high school,had a family member as a pharmacist,or wanted to join the professionso that they could help others. Whateverthe reason was for yourself, youshould keep it in mind as you choosethe direction for your career path.
One of the best things about pharmacyis the many options you haveupon graduation. Some will choose acareer in community pharmacy, othersin hospital pharmacy, and some studentswill choose some of the otheroptions, which include managed care,academia, pharmaceutical industry,nuclear pharmacy, and pharmacyassociations, to name a few.
I believe that aresidency should bepursued no matterwhat career directionis chosen. Thereason for this isthat the trainingthat is involved in aresidency allows individualsto be betterpharmacists intheir care for patients, in their decision-making skills, and in the confidencethey have in themselves. It willalso provide more opportunitiesin the future as theircareers progress. Most individualsthink a residency islimited to a career in the hospital,but well-establishedresidencies are available forall sectors of pharmacy.
Beyond the decision to pursuea residency, other issuesneed to be considered to helpfocus your pharmacy career:
What do you have a passionfor? You should have found acertain area more enjoyablethan others. For some individuals,jobs they have held duringschool provide them witheither a career path they wantto pursue or avoid. Talkingwith the pharmacists youwork with can help you determineif the same job would beenjoyable to you. Other peopleanswer this question through classesthey take or professors they like. Othersuse their rotations to help directtheir career paths. Whatever avenuesyou use to make your decision, it isimportant to select it based on thepassion you have for that segment ofpharmacy.
Will you use all of the knowledgeyou have gained? You have spentmany hours studying and gainingknowledge about the practice ofpharmacy. Will the career path youchoose allow you to use it? Will thepractice site allow you to gain newknowledge or skills? No one wants tohave a job that does not use the informationyou have spent learning orallowing you to grow with the professionin the future. The answers tothese questions should help in makinga decision for what sector ofpharmacy to avoid or to gravitatetoward.
If you notice, I did not includethings like salary, signing bonus, loanrepayment, benefits, or location intothis analysis. These are all secondaryissues that should not be consideredin the type of career path chosen. If apharmacist is truly passionate abouthis or her career, things like salarywill not be a large issue. They will realizesomething that many workingpharmacists already understand: happinessis found in making a differenceevery day, not in a paycheck.
Best wishes on selecting the careerpath for you. This is best found by followingyour passion and using all ofthe knowledge you have worked hardto obtain. I look forward to having youas a colleague in the future.
Dr. Eckel is the assistant director of pharmacyat University of North CarolinaHospitals Department.