Advice for new pharmacy grads: Keep studying!
Friday, May 12, 2017
This year, we'll see roughly 14,000 new pharmacists graduate, most of whom will (they hope) pass their board exams and enter the job market as licensed pharmacists for the first time.
Although it has been more years than I care to mention since that time in my own life, I can still recall the mixture of emotions like anxiety, excitement and relief all rushing through my system at once.
Allow me to be one of the many who congratulate you at this time. You have accomplished something difficult. You have sacrificed a lot of your time and effort. You have invested a great deal of money as well. But for all the challenges, you have now arrived at the finish line of your formal education. You did it!!
This year, my own son graduates from his chosen professional program. Though he didn't go the route of pharmacy like his old man, he nevertheless took on a challenging program and graduated with a master's degree.
So my advice to new graduates comes not only from my 25 years in pharmacy, but also from my fatherly feelings about the future for those who are looking to begin their first professional job.
As you launch your new career in 2017, I would humbly offer the following advice: Become a student once again.
I'm not talking about changing careers and getting a different degree. Nor do I mean that you should just continue your studies the same way that you did while you were in school. Continuing education is important, and there will be plenty of time to research pharmacology, journal articles and get additional certifications if you like.
What I have in mind is a different kind of studying. I believe this other kind of studying will translate overall into a more satisfying and enjoyable career. Here are three areas on which to focus your attention:
1. Your new workplace
Your new curriculum are the jobs and workplace in which you will be starting to work shortly. Get to know the way things work beyond the routine duties of your everyday responsibilities.
Learn the history, culture and vision of your company. Visit other departments and collaborate with others who do similar work. Look for opportunities to do a little something extra beyond what you are expected to do, as this is one of the best ways to really see how your organization operates. Get to know both the pharmacists and nonpharmacists around you.
In my experience, this will make the job more interesting and will open up many other doors for you in the future.
2. The discipline of leadership
What? Leadership? But I'm just a new graduate and still trying to figure this stuff out!
Yes, but you are also a leader from Day 1. It doesn't matter whether or not your title is "manager" or "director." If you are a pharmacist, you are a leader. In fact, anyone is a leader who develops the self-discipline to bring a great vision with them and cultivates the enthusiasm needed to see that vision come to life.
The single biggest mistake many young professionals make is they wait until they are thrust into leadership roles before they study this subject.
There are a lot of great ways to study leadership, but I highly recommend reading some of the classics on this subject. John Maxwell's "21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership," Daniel Goleman's "Primal Leadership" and Dale Carnegie's "How to Win Friends and Influence People" are among my favorites, but there are dozens more.
Isaac Newton said, "If I've seen further than others, it's by standing on the shoulders of giants." Great books on leadership allow you to climb onto these giants and see new things.
3. Compassion, generosity and service
Find a way to give back to the community in which you live.
Maybe it will be by writing an article for the local newspaper or by visiting the local senior center and offering to do a free medication counseling session once a month. Maybe you have an interest in a subject that would be useful to your fellow pharmacists, and you could talk about it on a blog or in a newsletter. Maybe it will simply be by making a regular donation to a local charity that you care about.
These are the things that really bring deep satisfaction and joy to your career and your life.
And so, while I'm glad you have completed your formal studies and don't ever have to worry about another kinetics exam or journal club or poster presentation, I do hope you stay a student for many years to come. These areas of study are just a few suggestions that I have found out by experience are well-rewarded in the end.
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