Re-Energizing Your Passion for Pharmacy

It’s almost a cold hard reality in our industry: you’re going to experience burnout at one point or another. In fact, rates of burnout are very high in healthcare professionals - and we need to be able to recognize it within ourselves and others. Even more important, we need to know what to do to break the cycle.

The biggest problem with burn out in the healthcare industry is that we are often left with minimal time to focus on ourselves. Without the right headspace, it can be difficult to figure out what you can do to re-energize your passion for pharmacy.

So let’s dive into what burnout in the pharmacy field looks like and what you can do to feel more like yourself while doing what you love. 

Recognizing burn out when you see it

Burnout is characterized by emotional exhaustion, a lack of enthusiasm for work, a reduced sense of personal accomplishment and cynicism. 

When you’re caught in the deep end of being burned out, you can easily come across as angry and frustrated. Burnout can also mimic signs of depression, giving people dealing with this problem even more cause for concern. 

It’s now more important than ever to recognize the signs of burnout in yourself and others. Sometimes, all it takes is recognizing the patterns of burnout to begin to break them.

There are plenty of tests online that can help you figure out if you’re struggling with burnout.

Try taking this one right now – it’s free and you can gauge if you’re showing signs of burning out or not. 

Other ways that you can start to differentiate between regular stress, depression, and burnout include asking yourself the following questions:

  • Did I have a period of time where I had a lot of work, but felt really motivated and effective?

  • Do I now dread going into work?

  • Do I spend longer hours at work or do I bring my work home with me?

  • Do I feel too drained to enjoy my time outside of work? Or do I always end up thinking about work during my free time?

  • Do I feel like I’m constantly struggling to catch up while also procrastinating or getting distracted from work easily?

If you answered yes to many of these questions, you may be at risk for burnout!

Reinvigorating your efforts and rediscovering your purpose

While scheduling a vacation would be a great way to reset and move past burnout, this isn’t always possible.

One small step that you can take to get more control of your emotions and mental health is to take breaks. Give yourself time to decompress without social media or checking your email. Setting up these boundaries can create more distinction between your work life and your personal life, which can allow you to enjoy both more thoroughly. 

Think about why you’re in the line of work you’re in and what your purpose is. If patients are relying on you for care, you’ll need to take care of yourself first!

Make sure that you’re practicing great sleep hygiene by going to sleep at the same time every night and getting the right amount of sleep. It’s almost impossible to work a regular job and have a family/social life without feeling burnt out if you aren’t getting enough sleep in the first place.

From there, make sure you’re giving your body what it needs by eating nutritious foods and taking time to do what’s important to you.

Sometimes, a vacation is all it takes to give you the time to reconnect with this profession. When that isn’t possible, decompressing by taking a break from your email social media, getting a massage, and spending time with your family can really help.

In fact, setting boundaries while you’re at work can do more for your mental health than anything else! 

Looking toward the future of pharmacy

One of the most common concerns that I hear about in the pharmacy and medical industry is that “things will never change.”

Nothing could be further from the truth! As a profession, we are always striving to provide the best in patient care. We work to make sure that everyone stays healthy and happy – so why shouldn’t this apply to ourselves too?

The more people break the cycle of burnout, by setting boundaries and talking openly about their struggles, the closer we get to change. As our collective attitude shifts away from industry cynicism and more toward industry improvement, we can continue to specialize and improve our   AND mindset. 

And don’t think that you have to take all of this on by yourself. If you’re feeling burnt out already, don’t try and make huge changes to the industry by yourself.

Instead, reconnect with your purpose, give yourself a break, and start working on becoming the best that you can be. Improve your practice. Be the best oncology pharmacist in your area; or be the go-to person for some avenue of pharmacy. 

The ways that you refocus your energy can be tailored to your interests – IT, reimbursement, pharmacokinetics, medication counseling, and so forth – so that you can feel best when you’re working!

Joanna Simmon