What to do when your pharmacy career stalls

Four pharmacy professionals provide guidance to a pharmacist who no longer feels passionate about their current role.

What to do when your pharmacy career stalls SS19

The problem:

A pharmacist who registered five years ago has stated they are feeling bored and dissatisfied with their job, but they are not sure how to improve the situation. They search on the internet for “How do I progress my career?” but that returns an overwhelming amount of results, leaving them even more confused.

What advice would you give them?

Source: Frances Akor

“Career success is not only measured by promotions or increased earnings, but also by the fulfilment and joy associated with job and life satisfaction”

I can relate, as I have been there too. Keep calm and reach out to a colleague you admire; a role model or mentor you can be honest and open with. Arrange a time to meet and discuss your concerns. They can help you put things in perspective and offer invaluable guidance. I reached out to Raliat Onatade, who helped me articulate my frustration with my position, develop a clear thought process of determining where I wanted to be in the future and road map how to get there. It was very cathartic.

Feeling bored or dissatisfied may be an indication that it is time to move on or that you have not yet explored all the developmental opportunities available. Reflect and undertake a working life and personal life audit — ask yourself questions such as: “What do I love doing?”, “What tasks do I excel at?”, “What makes me happy?”, “When have I felt particularly good about work and why?”, “How might I replicate or have more of this in my current or future role?”, “What matters outside of work?”, and “What do I value?”.

This holistic approach will ensure that your pursuit of career success is framed within your life context, helping you to achieve a work–life balance that suits you. This mapping process doesn’t have to span your whole career; even just thinking about the next 6–18 months means you are intentionally moving towards career progression.

Keep abreast of job roles, fellowships, education and training. With personal insight and research you will be well placed to recognise opportunities of interest, or create opportunities for yourself. This process of self-audit and opportunity mapping is not a once-only event, but an ongoing activity.

Remember that career success is not only measured by promotions or increased earnings, but also by the fulfilment and joy associated with job and life satisfaction.

Frances Akor is a consultant pharmacist (anticoagulation) at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust

Source: Mark Clymer

“Do not make haphazard decisions in response to a single event”

You could pursue several options in this situation — there is no right or wrong answer, but do not make decisions in response to a single event. You may wish to identify your ultimate career goal and choose job roles that will give you the necessary knowledge and skills to achieve this goal. You could also actively search for roles that interest you and follow a career journey with potentially less direction, but more variety. Choosing the right time to make a change is also important, as you may need to move organisations or cities — this can be quite stressful. Discuss this with your support network and consider the potential impact on your work–life balance.

Reflect on your career and identify your strengths, as well as gaps in knowledge. The Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s Advanced Pharmacy Framework is a great resource, which helps you benchmark yourself against nationally approved competencies.

Feedback from colleagues and peers will also provide further insight into your abilities. Look across your career to identify mentors that inspire you and are able to advise, support and guide you.

Widen your pharmacy network by using social media and attending conferences or pharmacy education workshops. Asking other pharmacy professionals for their perspective will allow you to make informed decisions when looking to make changes in your career.

Always follow your passions and interests, rather than the salary or status, to keep you motivated and enthusiastic. This is necessary to ensure your decision is a rewarding one.

Mark Clymer is a critical care pharmacist at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and former chief pharmaceutical officer’s clinical fellow for 2018/2019

Source: Ade Tojuola

“This is an exciting opportunity to grow”

This is not an unusual situation, neither is it something that should cause you to worry. In fact, this is an exciting opportunity to grow. Here are a few points to ponder:

Ask yourself why — it is important to understand and appreciate your reasons for feeling dissatisfied with your current role. Be clear on this point, as it will motivate you to identify your career goals and work to change your situation;

Invest — be prepared to invest time and sometimes finance to achieve your goals: attend courses, read career blogs, network;

Positive affirmation — the journey to career success and satisfaction is not an easy one. It requires a positive mindset, focus and the belief that you can make a change and be in a better space. Things won’t always go as planned, but stay focused.

Ade Tojuola is a pharmacist and founder of Pharmacistweb.com, an independent membership network for pharmacy professionals

Source: Samrina Bhatti

“Be prepared to increase your discretionary effort to achieve your career goals”

Map out your career aspirations and reflect over the past five years. Identify areas of development to help you achieve your career aspirations. Then have an open and honest discussion with your line manager about these aspirations and look to them for advice.

Be prepared to increase your discretionary effort to achieve your career goals. Try to align your innovative ideas with the vision and departmental priorities for your organisation — this will make it easier for your manager to help you along your career journey.

There are also structured courses available from various institutions, including The King’s Fund and NHS Leadership Academy, that can provide you with valuable skills and knowledge on leadership and management. It can also be helpful to supplement your on-the-job experience with some self-directed learning to pre-empt challenges as you progress through your leadership journey. When tasked with new challenges, you may feel slightly out of your depth, but “get comfortable with being uncomfortable”. New opportunities allow for personal and professional growth.

Find a mentor — there are various platforms; including the Royal Pharmaceutical Society and the Faculty of Medical Leadership and Management mentoring scheme. Having a senior role model will not only help you achieve your career goals, but will also support you in developing your confidence and job-related wellbeing.

Regardless of how you may feel, there are many opportunities available to progress your career — you just have to seek them out.

Samrina Bhatti is a clinical entrepreneur for NHS England and former chief pharmaceutical officer’s clinical fellow for 2018/2019

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, What to do when your pharmacy career stalls;Online:DOI:10.1211/PJ.2019.20207324

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