Print This Article
5 Things to Know for the Newest New Practitioners
New Practitioners Network
by David Martin, PharmD, BCPS, Northwestern Memorial Hospital; Reviewed by Matt (Junyu) Zhang, PharmD
The month of June ushers in a flurry of new life and opportunities each year. The daffodils and tulips signify that warmer weather is finally here to stay. People dust off their running shoes or bicycles and hit the roads for some much needed fresh air. It is an exciting time for students, families, and faculty as a new batch of pharmacists walk across the stage to receive their diplomas. It is especially exciting for us to welcome these new practitioners into the world of pharmacy.
Whether you are directly entering the workforce or furthering your education through residency or fellowship training, there are so many exciting opportunities and challenges that lie ahead of you. It has been three years since I walked across my own graduation stage, and since that time I have completed residency programs and started working at three different institutions. The following are important lessons that I have learned over these past few years, and I would love to share them with you, our newest members of the pharmacy profession.
1. Keep in touch with your friends and professors from college.
The friends you make during the formative years of higher education are likely to be your life-long friends. Whether you see them every day or every 5 years after graduation, you will want to maintain contact with them. Similarly, most students developed a mentor-mentee relationship with at least one faculty member. These relationships can further strengthen as you enter the profession because your professors can often offer insight and advice for difficult situations. As you enter the workforce, you will find that networking plays an even larger role than you had imagined. Maintaining old relationships with your fellow classmates, friends, and professors is an important way to build your network and expand your opportunities.
2. If you move away from your family, take time to visit them.
It is easy to get caught up in the excitement of a new job, a new city, and the new freedom from classes and exams. As a new practitioner, you may also find vacation time is hard to come by with your new employer. However, I would challenge you to devote at least part of that time to your family. My relationship with my parents has evolved over the years, and I cherish every moment I am able to spend with them. Please don’t forget to call your mother at least once a week!
3. Learning doesn’t stop the moment you receive your pharmacy license.
Continuously learning is mentally exhausting, so you are probably ready for a break. However, keep in mind that medicine never stops changing, evolving, and discovering. As such, you are going to need to change, evolve, and discover right along with it. Sign up for list-serves and newsletters that offer new ideas in the areas of interest to you (some of my favorites are the ACCP PRN’s, ICHP monthly newsletters, ASHP blogs, and Pharmacotherapy content alerts). Read journal articles and guideline updates, attend local and national meetings, and consider studying for and taking a specialty exam in your area of interest. Don’t forget about those pesky continuing education requirements for your pharmacy license too! (Hint: sign up for the CPE Monitor with the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, NABP, as soon as possible. Go to www.mycpemonitor.net.)
4. Explore the wide variety of opportunities available to you as a pharmacist and don’t be afraid to change.
The field of pharmacy offers so many different opportunities as it is continuously changing and evolving. The field of specialty pharmacy was barely a speck on the radar when I graduated pharmacy school, and it is now one of the most rapidly growing (and lucrative) areas of pharmacy practice. For example, anticoagulation pharmacy services are changing with the decline in warfarin use as newer oral anticoagulants emerge; as new practitioners, you must also be flexible and adapt to these changing environments. Challenge yourself to think outside the box and be open to new areas of pharmacy that may not yet exist. Volunteering and/or participating in local organizations are also great ways to get involved and learn about new opportunities as practice evolves.
5. Work hard, play hard.
This may be the most important lesson. We must all work extremely hard to care for our patients, expand the profession of pharmacy, and educate ourselves and the next generation of healthcare professionals. There is no room for a laissez-faire attitude in the area of pharmacy practice, and we expect the highest-quality work from each other. However, once the work is complete, enjoy your time to travel, try different foods, volunteer, or take up a new hobby (or several). Play hard so that you can return to work the next day for the next 40 years and provide optimal care for your patients.