Juggling Motherhood and a Pharmacy Career is No Easy Task

Pharmacy Times, July 2020, Volume 88, Issue 7

Here are 4 tips to survive in the profession for first-time moms to know before the baby is born.

Pharmacy is often touted as one of the best professions for moms.

I remember hearing this, and it was one of the main reasons that I selected a pharmacy career. Although I love everything about the profession, I was not prepared for what having a child would mean in terms of my career.

I receive lots of messages daily on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter asking for career advice from pharmacists who are transitioning to motherhood. Here are 4 things pharmacist moms should know before having their first child:

DISCUSS THE SITUATION WITH THE BOSS.

During my 20-plus years in the profession, I have managed and worked with many pharmacists, and as a mother myself, when a female direct report aged between 25 and 45 years walks into my office and says, “I have something to tell you,” I usually expect the next words to be, “I’m pregnant.” I know that the first time I was pregnant, I did not want my boss or colleagues to think I might not perform well or that I was going to go part-time after my child’s birth. I also wanted to make sure my job was secure. There is no easy way to tell the manager, but it is best to wait until you are at least 12 weeks pregnant so you can plan for coverage and for what will happen after the maternity leave is over. Managers can make things easy by demonstrating concern and empathy; if they do not, there is a different problem. Once a pharmacy manager knows about a pregnancy, stools are a must, as every pregnant woman needs a stool or place to sit down while working. Those who do not receive stools should message me and our organization will help you. This has been one of Pharmacist Moms’ goals.

HANDLE JOB INTERVIEWS INTELLIGENTLY.

Although it seems farfetched to attend a job interview when pregnant, I did just that, interviewing for a full dean position while trying to hide my 20-weeks-pregnant belly. I was nervous and scared during the entire interview. However, confidence and transparency are key. In reality, it can be difficult for a pregnant woman to land a job when she will need a minimum of 12 weeks off right at the start. So, waiting for the dream job until you are postpartum can sometimes make more sense.

REALIZE THAT PHARMACIST MOMS EARN LESS MONEY.

The results of a study by 2 Harvard economists showed that pharmacist moms earn less money than both their male and female childless counterparts.1 This may be because pharmacist moms work fewer hours, but it is still a fact. Be prepared to speak up and negotiate. The best time to do this is when you are first hired, as raises typically do not exceed 6%.

UNDERSTAND BENEFITS.

What are the company’s and state’s maternity leave benefits and the differences between them? What benefits does the company offer? Do they align with what you need? Does the company offer paid or unpaid leave? Will the same job be available when your leave is over, and who will be doing it in the meantime? How many weeks of pay will you receive? Does the state provide any pay in case the employer does not? What happens if the baby comes early, and what is the policy if labor begins at work? Get the answers to all these questions.

Good luck, and if you need moral support, reach out to the Pharmacist Moms group.

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.

REFERENCE

Katz LF, Goldin C. A most egalitarian profession: pharmacy and the evolution of a family-friendly occupation. Harvard University and National Bureau of Economic Research. Accessed July 2, 2020. https://scholar.harvard.edu/files/lkatz/files/jole_gk_pharm_published.pdf