Making a Great Career in Pharmacy

Pharmacy CareersPharmacy Careers Fall 2014

What a joyful journey I have had in my career in pharmacy. I look back with appreciation for what pharmacy has provided me, but also with thanks for how pharmacy has allowed me to help others. Giving back is more satisfying than getting “things,” I have found, and pharmacy has not only enabled me to do that but has encouraged it.

Working is most enjoyable when you look forward to going to work each day. A career in pharmacy offers many different settings for practice, and these different settings require the development of different skills. This variety allows a pharmacist to choose a career path that leads to daily enjoyment with expectations that each day will be fulfilling.

Of course, that means that I have to keep growing as both a person and a professional. Therefore, graduation is just the beginning of learning. Continuing professional development becomes a way of life.

As you begin your career, choose a first job that will facilitate your growth. Choose a mentor who will guide your selfdevelopment but will also offer advice, sometimes even when you don’t solicit feedback. Feedback has been identified as one of the crucial components of successful development. As I reflect on my own pharmacy career, I acknowledge the valuable contributions I received from these pharmacy leaders who took an interest in my growth. I had several employers who provided a work environment that helped me to improve and to develop a commitment to excellence.

I also believe my career was successful because I was always willing to take a professional risk by accepting a challenging task, project, or new job where the results were not certain. These situations caused me to grow exponentially, gave me increasing self-confidence in my abilities, and often opened new doors. Some of the risks I took involved volunteer roles in professional organizations. What I learned is that when you give back to your profession, you often end up getting back more than you gave. Too many pharmacists today have elected not to join a professional organization. I challenge you to not follow that example, but rather to join and participate in at least 1 national and 1 state pharmacy organization. It will benefit your career!

People like working with others who care and make work fun, do more than their fair share, volunteer before being asked, and are enthusiastic about what they are doing. These traits and attitudes are primarily controlled by the individual. Someone once told me, “I can’t control what happens to me, but I can control what happens in me.” The application of this thought in the workplace is that you can choose your response to your work situation. I can find the positive aspects of my job and focus on them, or I can focus on the problems. It depends on the choice I make. So choose to be an enthusiastic colleague with a positive attitude. Not only will people enjoy working with you, but you’ll look forward to coming to work each day.

As you begin your career, you will become part of a health care system that is in transition. Most would agree that a transformation is occurring in pharmacy. For a transformation to occur, however, it will have to start by changing the individual first. This evolving health care landscape creates a great opportunity for the new graduates whose education has provided them with the required skills to be effective in the transformed system.

Pharmacy is a great career, and you are entering practice in the midst of great change and opportunity. Remember, however, that you are ultimately responsible for making it a great career. In the end, pharmacy becomes what you make it. Whether pharmacy is a great career for you will depend on you.

Mr. Eckel is a professor emeritus at the Eshelman School of Pharmacy, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is emeritus executive director of the North Carolina Association of Pharmacists. A lifelong advocate for the profession of pharmacy, Mr. Eckel has lectured on pharmacy issues and trends in all 50 states and has traveled to 6 continents to promote, and educate audiences on, the role of the pharmacist.

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