10 Tips for New Retail Pharmacists

The first few shifts as a new retail pharmacist are tough. I have seen many a new grad work a few shifts and then decide retail pharmacy is not a good fit for them. With the right skill set and attitude, I believe every new retail pharmacist can become a good, or even great pharmacist if they have the desire. I've come up with 10 of what I think are the most important things to know before you work your first solo shift as a registered pharmacist.


1.    Your technicians can either make you or break you.

 I have worked with many, many technicians since graduation and I have heard this from almost every pharmacist I know. A good technician can be a life (or license) saver.

2.    Speed will come.

Do not; I repeat DO NOT focus on speed, ever. You will naturally become more efficient as you gain experience.

3.    Get professional liability insurance as soon as your license posts.

If you decide to ignore #2 then you need to be sure that this is the first thing you do when you see your license post on your state board of pharmacy website. 

4.    Use your network.

And if you don’t have one then you better develop one quickly. You need other pharmacists and technicians to call when you need an answer quickly.

5.    Save as much as you can and contribute at least enough to your 401K to get the company match.

This one is kind of a no brainer. I am definitely not a personal finance guru (although I hope to be one day) but the guys over at yourfinancialpharmacist.com and whitecoatinvestor.com provide some outstanding resources and I definitely recommend checking them out.

6.    Take a notebook with you to every shift.

Get one that is small enough to fit in your white coat pocket. You will encounter a zillion things throughout a shift that you will want to write down either for reference later or to look up when you have more time. There has not been one shift where I have not used my Moleskine notebook. 

7.     Develop your patient counseling skills and follow your state’s laws regarding counseling.

In my state, this is by far the number 1 thing pharmacists get in trouble for even though it is the most important interaction we have with patients. Developing a good counseling style deserves a post of its own, but the key is to find what works for you and be sure to do it every time it is required.

8.    Don’t ever stop learning.

The field of pharmacy is a rapidly changing field and new drugs are coming out every day. Not to mention new laws, expanded practice areas, and a whole host of other vital information. You have to keep learning (and not just your required CE hours to renew your license) to stay current.

9.    Find comfortable shoes.

I worked a ton in school but for some of my classmates who worked less or not at all the transition to standing for 8 to 14 hours a day was tough. I was well prepared and still made a few mistakes with my footwear. I have since found what works for me and you have to make it a priority to do the same.

 10. Level set with your boss on day 1 and follow up frequently.

It doesn’t matter if you are going into a floater, staff or pharmacist in charge position, having an open dialogue with whoever it is that you report to (PIC, District Pharmacy Manager, Pharmacy Supervisor, or whatever other titles they may have now) is critical.