What it means to be an Early Career Pharmacist

If you’ve ever questioned where your career can take you, this is for you.

If you’re an intern, this article is for you.

If you’re a student, this article is for you.

Because honestly, your career is what YOU make of it. Yes, we all have a B.Pharm or M.Pharm but that doesn’t mean your only choice is Community Pharmacy or Hospital Pharmacy.

Yesterday I was honoured to give a short talk at the ‘Welcome to the Profession’ brunch organised by the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia, Victorian branch.

There was a great line-up of speakers from various areas of pharmacy, that gave great insight for students, interns, and early career pharmacists to broaden their perspectives on what opportunities are available in this industry.

There are many misconceptions about the industry, particularly regarding the limited career opportunities.

However, yesterday’s speakers showed us the diverse range of roles where pharmacists can contribute their expertise, and also expand their knowledge through further studies and specialisations to pursue a specific career pathway.

Honestly, I was once a pharmacist that also felt a bit lost when it comes to exploring different career options.

This is typically because as a pharmacy student, you are often only exposed to the two main career pathways – becoming a hospital pharmacist or a community pharmacist. And once you’ve stepped foot into one or the other, often you can become complacent and only see what’s in front of you, not what’s around you.

Luckily for me, I was always curious as to what else I can do with my career.

It all started when I was a freshly registered community pharmacist that constantly had questions – why, what if, and how?

I was definitely not one to sit back and put up with the frustrations of not being able to answer those questions and fix them.

If there was a problem, or potentially better ways to do things, I would actively pursue it and implement my own initiatives. Very quickly I realized, that I was not meant for the clinical pathway. I was more business minded, entrepreneurial, and had a passion for strategy and problem solving.

The first tip I gave to my audience is to turn your questions and frustrations into real answers – Don’t wait to be told to do something. If you see there are opportunities to improve things, new initiatives to implement, new programs for the pharmacy, do it – and do it to the best of your ability.

This is a great start to building your career through experiences, and how you can understand your strengths and weaknesses.

The second tip: If your efforts are not recognised, acknowledged, or rewarded, don’t feel too discouraged. Your next employer will be the one to appreciate them. And don’t lose faith, you’d be surprised at how many employers actually do a really good job in this space.

The third tip: Once you’ve gained an understanding of the general direction of the career pathway that would better suit you, the most important question then is to ask yourself, how am I going to get there? What will it take to steer your career towards that direction?

Many pharmacists pursue further studies in various areas ranging from clinical specialisations, business studies, and research projects just to name a few.

Some may even consider taking a side-step in their career, in order to get their foot in the door to a particular area of the industry.

For me, I made the decision to pursue an MBA to fuel my determination to explore the world outside of the pharmacy industry that I knew of. This completely propelled my career into the direction of the problem-solving arena of management consulting. Having made that critical decision and undertaking a steep learning curve, I was later tempted back into the pharmacy industry at the group management level.

And for my last tip: When you have the opportunity to explore career options built upon your experiences, try to also ascertain that connection with your potential future employer very early on in the process. It’s almost like a relationship. If it doesn’t click early on, how are you sure that it will even get any better?

It’s been an absolute privilege to have worked for great companies in the past such as Aspex Consulting, where it really felt like family from the beginning.

And the Advantage Group have certainly embraced me from the get-go. The company has grown exponentially in the last year and has created a new role for which I’m now making my own. As the Professional Services and Communications Manager, I’m enjoying the dual role that taps into strategy, operationalisation and implementation of professional services, as well as PR and marketing.

Even prior to finalising my position here, one of the Directors already shared with me his vision and passion to build a progressive company, and would work closely with me in this process. One of the stories I shared yesterday, was something that really resonated with me when I first took on this role.

My CEO said to me, “if you have ideas you want to implement, new initiatives, projects you want to do, go for it – I support your all the way”.

It is not every day, you get to hear your boss tell you that he trusts you, he supports you, and he’s got your back – let alone your CEO.

That’s when I know that I’m not coming to work just for work, but I’m also here to learn and grow along the way.

Published on 20 December 2017 on The Pharmacist Collective: https://www.thepharmacistcollective.com/what-it-means-to-be-an-early-career-pharmacist/