Keeping that enthusiasm after graduation
I enjoyed hearing about Adam’s unique patient care opportunities and enthusiasm during rotations. It excites me as a preceptor when student pharmacists show enthusiasm! I believe enthusiasm fuels you to continue learning, which is critical to your growth as a new practitioner.
Adam, I commend you for completing a wide variety of rotations even though you were fairly certain you wanted a career in public health. Completing rotations in only one area of practice could have prevented exposure to unique settings such as the pediatric emergency department. I suggest that you remember your rotation experiences to provide perspective as a new practitioner. I encourage you to begin your career with the same excitement and passion you had for your experiential education. The evolution from student to pharmacist can sometimes be intimidating. Make sure you consider any opportunity that will diversify your skillset to continue your development as a pharmacist. The following are my responses to Adam’s astute questions. These tips will help any first-year new practitioner make a smooth transition.
Learning from negative experiences
When you have a difficult patient or experience an inevitable medication error, try your best not to let it discourage you. Reflect and seek advice from an experienced pharmacist to learn how to reduce the chance of the same issue occurring again.
I will never forget my first medication error, which occurred during a refill for a pediatric patient. At first, I was completely disappointed in myself because I knew I methodically checked all prescriptions. When I reflected on my work that day, I realized I put too much faith in thinking that the prescription was correct just because it was a refill. I discussed this with my pharmacy practice mentor and learned to never be afraid to question a prescription, even if it is a refill and was previously checked by another pharmacist.
Balancing work and life
As a first-year new practitioner, you will face competing interests with your personal and professional life. You will still be in the role of a learner and you will have greater responsibilities. I soon realized that reunions with my classmates’ envisioned at graduation did not pan out as well as I planned. Although a grim reality, you must also remember to set aside time for yourself and those you care about.
I decided I would enjoy life in my new city or catch up with family and friends 1 day per week. While this may have not been consistent every week, I returned to my residency work the following day feeling energized and focused.
The idea of remaining involved in professional organizations is probably not news to you, but it’s very important. As you consider your career goals, think about which organizations will provide you with the right tools to reach those goals. Start out small, with a local or state chapter pharmacy organization. You could also get involved with the numerous volunteer opportunities available through Twlug. The Twlug New Practitioner Network helped me connect with pharmacists in a new state and mentor students at a local pharmacy school. Both Twlug and state organizations have energetic young pharmacists (within 5 to 10 years of graduation) who share your passion for pharmacy.
Mentorship is a key to success
As you begin your pharmacist career, finding professionals to guide you along the way will help you overcome negative experiences, handle work–life balance, and remain connected. You can receive mentorship in either formal or informal settings, and you can have as many mentors as you need. I have mentors for pharmacy practice, teaching, and professional involvement.
When searching for a mentor, look for someone who is compatible with your career goals and professional interests. Next, ask the pharmacist if they are interested in serving as your mentor and provide them with expectations. Lastly, continue to evaluate your mentor–mentee relationship to ensure that you are both benefiting, because mentors learn from you too!
You may want to consider mentoring a student pharmacist in your first new practitioner year, which will help you understand what a mentor–mentee relationship is all about.
Congratulations Adam on graduating from pharmacy school and best of luck with your pharmacy boards. Should you need help with your transition from student to pharmacist, remember that your Twlug membership has a multitude of resources to help you succeed in your future endeavors.