Shaping my destiny as a community pharmacist

Student Pharmacists Magazine

It is not the perfect job and that’s why I love it! If it were perfect, then there would be no room for me to make an impact. For the last 10 years, I have been a community pharmacy technician, intern, pharmacist, and pharmacy manager. Each subsequent position has given me a new and unique perspective on community pharmacy, which I otherwise would not have known. The most valuable secret I have learned during the last decade is that despite what I had read, been told, or led to believe, I did in fact have both the power and control to shape my own destiny as a community pharmacist and shape the way my pharmacy provided patient care.

Deal with the mishaps

I know first-hand that it is increasingly difficult to imagine how in today’s complex world of pharmacy practice, one individual person can make a significant impact on how pharmacy is practiced. There are even some pharmacists who are growing disillusioned with the profession. With the increasing role that large insurance companies, government organizations, and bureaucratic corporations play in community pharmacy decision-making, it is easy to understand why a pharmacist may feel powerless to impact the practice of pharmacy.

Pharmacists have all been there. The work never seems to end. The pharmacy is short-staffed, the phone rings constantly, and there is no hope to catch up. However, it was in those chaotic moments that I first realized that the control I had so desired had always been right in front of me. By being on the front line, I knew two important things: where the problems that plagued my days originated from and where to apply a fix to those issues. I began to recognize that a pharmacist must embrace the mishaps of the current day so that he or she may anticipate and overcome them tomorrow.

After that, success at shaping my pharmacy practice became simple. Once I had taken accountability and ownership of the fact that I truly was in control (and always had been), then every patient complaint or barrier to perfect patient care could be treated as a personal challenge for me to improve on my policies and procedures. In doing so, I not only helped the patient in front of me, but also all the patients in the future who might benefit from those process enhancements.

Set achievable goals

Perfection in pharmaceutical care delivery became my overarching desire. When I came into the pharmacy each day, I set small goals for myself and assessed my progress. I started with 100% ready-when-promised prescriptions. This tended to be the most common weakness found in each pharmacy where I had practiced. When we did not hit that goal, I reviewed what barriers were still present and made adjustments accordingly. Once we consistently delivered on our “promised times,” I moved on to more clinical, service-based goals like enhancing our pediatric prescription adherence rate.

Each time I reached one of these small but achievable goals, the pharmacy’s reputation grew, and patients and prescribers would refer new patients to us. In time, and with each new goal achieved, the pharmacy became what I had always envisioned my ideal practice site would look like. Even now, I continue to view every failure or misstep as an opportunity to learn and improve on how I practice pharmacy.

Your ideal pharmacy practice setting is out there too. Creating it will involve ignoring those around you who tell you that there are unmovable barriers standing in your way. Steadily make small improvements each day and you will shape your practice site into something meaningful and lasting for your patients and you.

If I could offer some advice on how to love your career and be successful too, it would be this: work hard, be passionate about patient care, and never let an opportunity to improve pass you by. So, what are you waiting for? Get out there, put on your white coat, and make your impact on the profession!