Blazing Your Trail in Pharmacy

The world of healthcare is constantly changing. We often hear about the difficult policies that have been implemented that resulted in increased workload and less support for pharmacists. But there’s also lots of positive change stirring because of hard-working pharmacists that are making those changes happen. If you’re reading this blog, chances are that you’re someone who is looking to elevate their practice. That means that you are already on your way to blazing a trail in the pharmacy industry.

Right now, there is a huge need for people to be forward-thinking and fill in the gaps of our traditional profession with the advances of modern living. In the end, it’ll help more patients connect with their healthcare team. And it’ll help pharmacists coordinate and create a network of positive change. 

What does it mean to blaze your trail? Really, it’s having the courage to take the next step and elevate your life, whether that means adopting a growth mindset, breaking out of your pharmacy role and doing something else, or launching that passion project you are excited about! It’s all about taking the next steps in your life and not being worried about what everyone else is doing. 

To make this happen, we need people who can build a network of healthcare professionals that tap into information technology, social media, and marketing to improve how we can treat patients. 

Refresh Your Take on Pharmacy 

The fact of the matter is that pharmacists aren’t just in the dispensing role anymore. These days, pharmacists are usually doing a combination of dispensing, management, customer service, clinical work, drug information, and other projects. Despite the changes in our role, this profession remains stuck with the same mentality of “this is the way we’ve always worked” when it comes to our processes. Suddenly, some of our systems aren’t managing the demands of so many patients and doctors. That’s when thinking that “this is how our inventory and ordering process has always worked” can become an obstacle to our success.

And there is a huge focus on performance improvement and quality in healthcare right now. Some pharmacists are struggling to meet their numbers for a variety of reasons, many of which involve an overwhelming backlog of work. It’s time to refresh our take on pharmacy and look at it in an entirely new light.

How can you make a process better? Don’t be afraid to map out a process and suggest improvements to your boss. But remember to always come to them with some answers and suggestions rather than just always presenting the problems! It will set you apart big time and open the door for more responsibilities that will help further your career and increase the impact you make.

Breaking From Our Traditional Role 

Ultimately, we need to be delivering high-quality patient care. That means being efficient and providing the best and safest treatment for our patients. We are doing this, but it’s time to look beyond that. I challenge you to act on those opportunities for improvement when you see them. Don’t worry about the time it will take to map out a process - if you’re truly trying to make your work environment and profession better, you will likely be very engaged and also be able to easily enroll help from others. 

Part of breaking out of our traditional role is creating new positions! Yes, adding new positions to your payroll will cost money, but these professionals also bring in money! If you see a need in your practice setting, create a plan to show how adding a position to fill that need will benefit the organization and patients. I say put a business plan together, a job description, and outline how this position will improve patient care and the pharmacy’s bottom line. Present this information to management and see what happens! Everyone is getting more specialized now, and we should too! It’s time to start creating those positions for ourselves.

Connecting With Your WHY 

One of the main components to your ability to blaze a trail in pharmacy is your WHY. Your why is your purpose that will drive you to make the right decisions needed to reach your goals. If you know your purpose, you will be able to glean the right path to take to get there. 

If you don’t know what your “purpose” is, that’s not a problem! Everyone starts somewhere and you can begin to volunteer in new settings, work on a new project, or do something new in your work environment to help you determine what you’re passionate about. These exercises will ultimately help you figure out what you do and don’t enjoy doing so that you can find your purpose. If something isn’t working out for you, or if you’re just not connecting with it, it’s perfectly okay to STEP BACK and shift your direction.

When you are able to connect with your why, your entire decision-making process will change. Instead of being paralyzed by the fear of not knowing how to start, you’ll be about to take action. It may take time, but your path will start to unfold. 

I did this with my upcoming book, The Pharmacist’s Guide. I wasn’t completely clear on what I wanted it to be, so I started it anonymously! But through taking action and pursuing my passions, I’ve figured out my WHY: to inspire healthcare professionals to take their wellness and careers to the next level. 

If you see an opportunity at work or in your market, if you think “what if” about something, don’t be afraid to act on it. Take on new responsibilities or create a new role for yourself to blaze your own trail in this industry.

Getting Involved as an Influencer 

Okay – this is pretty new to the world of healthcare, but it is totally possible for pharmacists to use social media to their advantage! This is another area where people and specialties are increasing awareness for their profession through these mega-popular platforms. We can use these mediums to spread a positive message about our profession, our services, and how we can support the community. 

Connecting with our audience, which is just as likely to be filled with patients as it is to be filled with other pharmacists, is a great way to increase awareness about certain issues. Whether it’s used to address an issue with healthcare at large, start a discussion about a certain medication, or improve workplace conditions for pharmacists, social media can make it happen.

Perhaps more importantly, social media will allow us to connect with each other. Have a few conversations with other pharmacists and you still suddenly realize that the annoying issues you struggled with aren’t unique to your situation. With some strategic action, pharmacists who have connected through social media can start creating a better work environment for all pharmacists.

Being an influencer also makes you an incredible asset future pharmacists. You can shed light on the realities of the profession, share study tips, and so on. By creating an audience, you become a great resource tool for students because they can reach out to other pharmacists or network with each other all within your comments section. 

Starting to see the bigger picture now? Pharmacists can manage their social media strategically to improve their reach. All we need to do is pick up our phones and start building our audience by blending our professional expertise and personal tech-savviness in our individual ways.

How to Know if You’re Blazing a Trail in Pharmacy

Once you’ve gotten started with creating a unique role for yourself, it can be hard to tell if you’re actually making progress. We are often our toughest critic, and it can be difficult to see how our influence has increased on our own. 

When I say “blazing your trail,” you need to understand that it all starts with your mindset. You have to start thinking about ways you can branch out and what you can do differently to elevate your life. Sometimes, this means turning a negative mindset into a positive one, or being the one member of the team that refocuses the conversation to become more constructive. Developing the confidence and motivation to step into the unknown is hard, but it is all amazing and absolutely necessary to take your position to the next level. 

I can say that when you feel alone or like you are doing something that hasn’t been done before, you are blazing a trail! I encourage everyone to really see this process as creating your path. We are ALL blazing a trail because we should be doing what’s right for our unique selves - not copying what others are doing. 

So, connect with your passions and your why and find a way to build a community around that. You may just be surprised how far you get with a community of fantastic professionals working with you.

Joanna Simmon