How Can Pharmacists Distinguish Themselves?

Pharmacy Times, March 2020, Volume 88, Issue 3

Building a career means also building a personal brand: follow these 3 steps to stand out from the crowd.

Whether a pharmacist owns an independent pharmacy or works at a chain, at a hospital, or in the pharmaceutical industry, building a career also means building a personal brand.

The number of colleges of pharmacy increased by 75% between 2000 and 2020, according to the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy. In addition, about one-third of female pharmacists work less than 40 hours per week midcareer. This has resulted in a disproportionate number of pharmacists finding themselves struggling to land a job after graduation or stay competitive in the field.

So, how does we distinguish ourselves as pharmacists? What steps should we take to stand out from the crowd? The answer is personal branding.

To create a personal brand, focus on 3 key areas:

1. Networking. Relationships are critical. There have been so many times in my career when, without a proper friend or mentor, I would have been unable to get through some really tough days. Relationships help us discover new possibilities that we sometimes did not know existed. Make it a point to network at least 2 or 3 times per year. Select an actual number to ensure it happens. Meet new people and strengthen old relationships.

2. Social media. Social media can take a business or individual to the next level. A Facebook page is critical for being recognized as a viable business. Social media is a great place for networking. For anyone who is on the fence about approaching someone in person, social media makes it much easier. I recommend strategically reaching out to market yourself. Become familiar with various social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube. Optimize your LinkedIn profile and expand your network by connecting with colleagues, friends, and mentors.

3. Training. Now is the time to expand and leverage your training to work in new areas. The job market has positions that did not exist 20 years ago, and we need to reinvent the ones that did. New possibilities for pharmacists, such as in functional medicine, medication therapy management, and the pharmaceutical industry, are all viable career options. New training is critical. For example, when I started a career in academia, I did not have a background in writing test questions. Therefore, I began to take education-related training to improve my skills. This same effort can be made in all pharmacy fields, and board certification can certainly assist. This might include the board-certified pharmacotherapy specialist program for clinical roles or the board-certified medical affairs specialist program for PharmDs who are looking for roles such as medical science liaison. When people ask me about this topic, I always say more training can only improve your curriculum vitae or resume, so go for it.

Suzanne Soliman, PharmD, BCMAS, is the chief academic officer at the Accreditation Council for Medical Affairs and the founder of Pharmacist Moms, the largest group of female pharmacists in the United States, with more than 31,000 members.