President's Message - Your First Job as a Pharmacist

by Mike Fotis, ICHP President
July 2, 2014

Whether you are fresh out of school or have just completed your residency, your first job as a pharmacist will have a major impact on the type of career you have. What should you look for?

Your first step is to take a few moments to reflect on your own professional values. Answering the following questions should give you a good start. What sort of pharmacist do you plan to become? What will you stand for? Try writing your own professional practice statement. It is difficult to identify the positions that are right for you until you have carefully thought about your own personal goals. We all want to work with colleagues who share common purpose, motivations and values. 

How can you tell the type of candidate a pharmacy leader is looking for? I suggest you take a close look at the recently hired pharmacists. Of course, this assumes you have the opportunity to meet with them. (By the way, ICHP meetings are a great place to do this!) Are the recent pharmacists enthusiastic about their position? Or is speaking with you about their positions a chore to them? What are their professional values? Are they similar to yours? If you share professional values with future colleagues, there is a very good chance that department is a good fit for you.

Meet with departmental leadership and assess their goals for pharmacy. First off, are you having a two way conversation or a one way conversation? If the conversation is one way, meaning you do not get an opportunity to express your opinions to someone who is listening to you, think about this for a long time. What about the practice of pharmacy? Does the leader plan to push the envelope or are they content to maintain the status quo?  At first, maintaining the status quo seems to be the safest option, but is that really true? How safe is the status quo? If you are starting out in your career, you are going to practice for 25 to 30 years or more. Do you really think maintaining the status quo is the safe approach? 

Ask about the ASHP Pharmacy Practice Model Initiative (PPMI). Departmental leadership should fully support this initiative. Full support means they subscribe to the principles that a) every patient deserves a pharmacist and b) the pharmacist is first responsible to the patient. Our goal should be to protect our patients, not to just protect our jobs.

In order to achieve the goals of the PPMI, the department needs to be committed to an all hands on deck approach. Take an assessment of all pharmacy technicians, pharmacy students, pharmacy residents, and new practitioners. Is there a plan so that in the near future every one of these groups will be working at the top of their skill set?

What can YOU do about it? Develop a plan for continuing professional development (CPD). Can you build a few minutes for professional development into your daily activities? The reality is that pharmacy practice is fast paced. You will be drained by the end of the day. Your plan for CPD has to be a part of your daily routine.

Get involved right now. Play an active role in a forward thinking professional organization like ICHP and ASHP. Develop your confidence, learn new ways of doing things and build a professional network of clinicians who share your ideals and goals. We are in a tough economy, and it can be challenging to find a job of any kind. Taking some extra time to find a job that is a good fit for your professional goals means that you have to be bold. It won't be easy, but are there many worthwhile things that are easy?

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