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Business Commandments Offer Key to Success

Kate Traynor

Internet sites offer plenty of advice on career development, but most of the material does not meet the needs of recent pharmacy-school graduates. ASHP’s Jill L. Nickols, Pharm.D., M.B.A., who keeps abreast of issues important to pharmacists beginning their careers, provides a pharmacist’s slant on some general career advice.

"Know thy self"—one of 10 job-related "commandments" offered by career counselor Angela Myles Beeching in National Business Employment Weekly—is good advice, says Nickols.

The experiential rotations completed during school—especially when reinforced by a fellowship or residency program—help teach new pharmacists what they like and dislike about the profession. Pharmacists’ professional training, says Nickols, "gives them a better understanding of…what options are out there and...which of those options they would prefer to work in or to concentrate on."

During their professional training, adds Nickols, pharmacists also find out how they relate to other people and learn about their capacity for compassion and empathy. By "not concentrating just on their pharmacy knowledge," pharmacists can gain this important self-knowledge before they even land a job, she says.

Another important commandment offered by Beeching, says Nickols, is "Thou shalt schmooze." This networking, notes Nickols, is "something that you have to get comfortable with and recognize that people expect you to do it."

Established pharmacy professionals, says Nickols, "remember what it was like to be a young practitioner…and that it could be intimidating" to socialize with strangers. When you make the effort to introduce yourself to established colleagues, "it impresses them...that you go beyond the call of duty," she says.

While networking, new practitioners should learn how established professionals started out and what they did to reach their current position, she advises. The perspective provided by seasoned pharmacy practitioners can give invaluable insights into your own career path.

Nickols does give a word of caution to networkers. "Recognize that the profession is a small world," she says. "Be very careful about not burning bridges," she adds, since "every person you can meet can have some say in what you do in the future."

The third commandment that Nickols says can help new pharmacists succeed in their profession is "Research thine options."

"Take advantage of every learning opportunity that comes your way, whether it’s a residency opportunity, fellowship opportunity, …[or] additional education," she says. "See what other options are out there and make yourself open to those."

The current national shortage of pharmacists makes finding jobs in the profession much easier than in the past. But Nickols says it’s still important to put extra effort into building your career.

"A lot of people have pharmacy positions literally falling at their feet right now," Nickols notes. Resist the temptation to take the easiest path, and you will likely be happier in the long term, she says.