Leveraging Organizational Citizenship Behaviors to Impress Preceptors and Pharmacy Managers

Pharmacy CareersSpring 2022
Volume 16
Issue 1

Students and new graduates can excel in their career through leadership, communication skills, and self-efficacy.

Pharmacy education typically deals with subjects such as pharmacology, medication management, and patient safety. Although knowledge of these topics is vital to the success of students, a more diverse skill set is necessary for them to excel on rotations and in their future careers.

This focus on clinical knowledge may be thought of as a “uni-professional” approach.1 Although necessary, it can be an impediment to optimal practice when pharmacists are members of a collaborative in which they are expected to work closely with other health care professionals. Beneficial in these settings is the “multiprofessional” approach, with its emphasis on abilities beyond clinical knowledge, that creates effective teams.1 By strengthening their organizational citizenship behaviors (OCB), students can develop useful skills like leadership, good communication, and self-efficacy.

OCB can be defined as voluntary actions that are not part of a formally defined role and are performed without the expectation of recognition or compensation.2 In many ways, OCB mirrors the core values of the Oath of a Pharmacist, in which practitioners pledge to devote themselves to a lifetime of service through their profession.3 Advocating for continual improvement of care, the welfare of humanity, and the advancement of health equity may not be in the formal job description of most pharmacists, but they are behaviors that the best pharmacists exhibit. These OCB virtues can greatly benefit pharmacy students and new graduates.

OCBs can be further broken down into these components: altruism, sportsmanship, consciousnesses, courtesy, and civic virtue, all of which are essential to promoting collegiality while enhancing a group’s or department’s productivity.4 Civic virtue encompasses the behaviors of an individual who is a reliable participant in an organization. Altruism takes civic virtue a step further. Rather than merely completing the minimum of work, individuals exhibiting altruism take the initiative to help others without expecting anything in return. This behavior likely comes from employees who are highly engaged.

Collegiality is the cooperation among colleagues, and sportsmanship describes those behaviors that allow people to avoid conflict.5 Individuals who demonstrate sportsmanship maintain a positive attitude even when they don’t get their way and are not upset when their recommendations are not followed. It is essential for budding pharmacists to develop these behaviors in order to engage in effective conflict resolution, which is an important part of working in a team.4

Those who exhibit OCBs are also likely to demonstrate higher levels of self-efficacy and personal initiative. In turn, people who have greater self-efficacy feel confident in their ability to perform tasks and contribute to organizational citizenship through their personal initiative.2 These individuals are more likely to attend voluntary meetings and assist colleagues with work-related problems because they are typically more organized and thus able to accommodate extra tasks. Students and newly graduated pharmacists who demonstrate OCBs will impress preceptors and pharmacy managers with their initiative and positivity.

In addition to greater productivity and better morale, ethical leadership—the modeling of ethical behavior, fair treatment of others, and the putting of ethics into practice6—has also been linked to OCBs. A recent study of nurses found
that ethical leadership was shown to enhance their trust in management and promote psychological well-being, thereby positively influencing organizational citizenship behaviors.5 This finding establishes an important link between OCBs and how contagious positivity translates into the health professionals’ work.

The principles of ethical leadership are not unlike the core values taught in pharmacy school, including beneficence, nonmaleficence, autonomy, and justice. Pharmacy students can go beyond classroom learning and incorporate these principles in their lives and in their leadership style when managing support personnel. Practicing these behaviors makes it clear to others that you are a reliable and valued member of the team who can be looked upon as a role model. In addition, other team members are likely to follow suit and model your behavior.

Pharmacy students can demonstrate ethical leadership by being open to change and by adapting practices to best fit a given situation. They can also adopt a collegial stance during conflict resolution by considering the opinions of everyone involved and being compassionate and fair as they seek a solution.

Applying altruism, sportsmanship, consciousnesses, courtesy, and civic virtue in the workplace can foster interprofessional communication and help students and newly graduated pharmacists further their careers. OCBs create a win-win for students and graduates, their colleagues, supervisors, organization, profession, and the patients they serve.

Ashley Woodyard and Valerie Wasem are pharmacy students at the Touro University California College of Pharmacy in Vallejo, California.

Shane P. Desselle, PHD, RPh, FAPhA, is a professor of social and behavioral pharmacy at the Touro University California College of Pharmacy in Vallejo, California.


1. Ascione FJ. Preparing pharmacists for collaborative/integrated health settings. Pharmacy (Basel). 2019;7(2):47. doi:10.3390/pharmacy7020047

2. Yaakobi E, Weisberg J. Organizational citizenship behavior predicts quality, creativity, and efficiency performance: the roles of occupational and collective efficacies. Front Psychol. 2020;11:1-18. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2020.00758

3. Oath of a pharmacist. American Pharmacists Association. Accessed March 11, 2022. https://pharmacist.com/About/Oath-of-a-Pharmacist

4. Organ DW. Organizational Citizenship Behavior: The Good Soldier Syndrome. Lexington Books; 1988.

5. Podsakoff NP, Whiting SW, Podsakoff PM, et al. Individual- and organizational-level consequences of organizational citizenship behaviors: a meta-analysis. J Appl Psychol. 2009;94:122-141. doi:10.1037/a0013079

6. Huang N, Qiu S, Yang S, et al. Ethical leadership and organizational citizenship behavior: mediation of trust and psychological well-being. Psych Res Behavior Manag. 2021;14:655-664. doi:10.2147/PRBM.S311856

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