Since October is American Pharmacists Month, I was inspired to write about why I, personally, love being a pharmacist. After spending some time reflecting on my career since graduation, the following is what I came up with.
Great Patients and Improving Clinical Outcomes
I have been fortunate in my career so far to have had a large number of great patients. Working in community pharmacy can quickly become draining if patients are not appreciative of the services you provide and are constantly yelling at you and hurling insults your way. Luckily a few grateful, kind-hearted patients can cancel out a few hundred mean ones. I have received loads of positive compliments from patients over the years and there are definitely those that I will always remember.
One of my favorite compliments came after I had been practicing for a little over a year. After standing in line for a few minutes and observing my interactions with other patients (no HIPAA information was overheard), one of my “frequent flyers” approached the counter and told me “You’re not only a pharmacist, you’re also a social worker.” She went on to thank me and tell me how much she admired how committed I was to solving medication-related problems for both her and my other patients. It took a while for me to process what she had said, but after fully digesting it, I realized that what she said is exactly how I want to practice and be perceived. I want to help others with whatever they need, however I can.
I love learning. As a small child, I would read (or try/pretend to read, I really don’t remember) the newspaper. As I got older I began devouring books; I couldn’t go a day without reading and learning something new. I feel the same way today. I strive to make time every day to read journal articles, pharmacy periodicals, or the latest guidelines.
Pharmacy is exciting to me because there is, and will always be, so much to learn. I have now swapped reading Goosebumps books for studying for board certifications. I also have the opportunity to precept pharmacy students and develop my teaching skills. I am able to continue the reading and learning that gave me so much joy in my youth, and now, as a pharmacist, I can use what I am learning to positively impact the lives of my patients.
This is a pretty personal and somewhat unique source of career satisfaction for me. I have always really enjoyed dressing well and it is important to me to wear clothes that I like every day. Being well dressed helps me to feel my best and in turn, perform at my best every day. For a while, after graduation, I had a pharmacy job that required me to wear a uniform. I did not realize how much I liked being able to wear what I wanted until I couldn’t. Now that I work for a company that encourages professional dress, I enjoy getting dressed every day and I don’t take our professional dress code for granted.
The Fast Pace
One of my favorite jobs in high school was working for UPS as a loader. It was fast-paced. There were boxes rapidly coming at me down a chute and I had to get them loaded onto trucks correctly, quickly, and efficiently. My 4-hour shifts flew by and as a bonus, I got a pretty good workout! Although pharmacy is significantly different than loading boxes on an 18-wheeler, both jobs make hours seem like minutes for me.
There is always something to do in the pharmacy, and I frequently say, “It’s already been X hours?!?” I know some pharmacists aren’t too fond of long shifts, but my 13 hour days often don’t feel like 13 hours. It’s not until I get home and unwind that I realize how long I have been at work. I like that I am constantly kept on my toes and as the saying goes, I guess “time flies when you’re having fun!”
Endless Opportunities and Variety
The pharmacy field today is extremely dynamic and new innovations are happening almost daily. There are so many different, interesting niches that it is difficult to choose what to learn about next. As a pharmacist, I have the opportunity to do so many different things within the field and bring together many different aspects of healthcare on a daily basis.
I am optimistic and excited about what the rest of my career will bring and I look forward to gaining experience in as many areas as possible. I learn about new opportunities every day and the vast majority of them seem to be great ways to advance patient care and contribute to creating a healthier world.
Learning about business and management is definitely one of my favorite things about pharmacy. The field is essentially at the intersection of business and science, and for me, it is like having the best of both worlds. Some of my colleagues tell me how much they dislike metrics and reporting, but I actually thoroughly enjoy understanding and analyzing the pharmacy business.
Hopefully, as my career progresses, I will get to do more high-level business analysis and management. For me, the opportunity to have a career that combines my love for business and management with my passion for healthcare motivates me to give my all every day.
Although there are definitely some negative aspects of the pharmacy profession, the good heavily outweighs the bad for me, and I can confidently say that I am proud and honored to be a pharmacist.