Tip of the Week: Learn Business Skills for the New Pharmacist


In querying pharmacists about what is required to be successful, many so-called “soft skills” in the social and administrative sciences rise to the top, but more evidence is needed.

In querying pharmacists about what is required to be successful, many so-called “soft skills” in the social and administrative sciences rise to the top. But more evidence is needed. In research by Jill Augustine, PharmD, PhD, MPH, and colleagues, a group of preceptors commented specifically on the business skills that might be most advantageous for junior practitioners in the years to come.

The investigators conducted focus groups with pharmacy preceptors to discuss these desired business-related skills.1 The type of information obtained from focus groups can differ from that of surveys. Survey information might be acquired from hundreds or even thousands of respondents and, depending on a number of factors, might be generalizable to entire populations. Focus groups, on the other hand, usually consist of a small number of participants from a geographically small or constrained area; however, very rich, detailed, and nuanced data can be derived from their use.

  • The first theme derived from the focus group data was in regard to communication skills. It was emphasized that both oral and written communication skills are increasingly important. Moreover, pharmacists have to be able to speak effectively with a range of different people, and the same strategies advocated for use in communication with patients (e.g., active listening, empathy, assertiveness) should be used in communicating with all pharmacy stakeholders.1
  • The second theme detailed necessary business skills, such as interpreting profit-loss statements, budgets, and organizational structure, as well as culture knowledge such as mission, vision, and business planning, in addition to human resources (HR) management skills.1
  • The third theme described decision-making and time management skills, including the process of gathering and selecting information to solve problems and delegation to maximize time and empower others.1
  • The fourth theme centered around conflict resolution, requiring that pharmacy graduates be humble and realize that not all decisions are personal.1
  • The fifth theme concerned leadership and professionalism, which emphasized creative thinking as well as the fact that professionalism encompasses role modeling, rather than just things like appearance and promptness.1
  • These all culminated in the sixth and final theme, which was managing and directing others. It was believed that effectiveness in this regard was observed in how well teams function under the direction of a pharmacist and the attitudes and behaviors of team members when that pharmacist is not present. This is clearly manifest in the establishment of climate and culture that boosts the morale and productivity of support personnel.2-3

Nationwide surveys and, now, focus group interviews of preceptors point to the need for management skills for effective pharmacy practice in today’s health care environment. Pharmacists demonstrating these skills will do well for their patients and also well for themselves, career-wise.

Additional information about The “Management” in Medication Therapy Management and Management Functions can be found in Pharmacy Management: Essentials for All Practice Settings, 5e.

About the Author

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


1. Augustine J, Slack M, Cooley J, et al. Identification of key business and management skills needed for pharmacy graduates. Am J Pharm Educ. 2018;82: Article 6364.

2. Desselle SP, Hoh R, Holmes ER, Gill A, Zamora L. Pharmacy technician self-efficacies: Insight to aid future education, staff development, and workforce planning. Res Social Adm Pharm. 2018;14(6):581-588.

3. Desselle S. Pharmacists’ perceptions of a set of pharmaceutical care practice standards. J Am Pharm Assoc (1996). 1997;37(5):529-534.

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