Written by 2:03 am Guest Posts

5 Signs Your Current Pharmacy Job Should Be in Your Past

Today I bring you another post from my friend Alex Barker. Thanks for sharing Alex!


Your pharmacy story wasn’t supposed to go this way.

When you ventured into pharmacy, you imagined a great salary and rewarding work; a worthwhile return on your investment of time and money.

Disillusionment was never part of the equation.

The good news is that you’re not alone.

A 2016 Gallup poll found that only 49 percent of employees are engaged in their work. Stated another way, 51 percent of employees are not invested in, enthusiastic about, or committed to their work. The problem is especially severe in pharmacy: of the 36 healthcare services included in the polling, pharmacy ranked 34th in engagement.

The even better news is that there’s a way out.

I know this because I was once in your shoes.

A few years ago, I worked in a pharmacy with people who didn’t trust me. They questioned my competence on a regular basis, which caused me to doubt myself. I was convinced I had chosen the wrong profession, and I regularly contemplated leaving it, except that I wasn’t sure how I would support my family without it.

The very best news is that I rewrote my pharmacy story. Instead of accepting that my situation would never get any better, I took control of my career and crafted a livelihood that gave me a reason to be excited about my work. I found a way to combine the things I love and the things I’m good at while I support my family and serve my community.

I’m prepared to help you do the same. I’ve made it my life’s work to help pharmacists find fulfilling work and then successfully transition into their new gig. I’ve interviewed countless others like you and me, and I’ve learned what it takes to rewrite your pharmacy story. I’ve also learned the signs of disengaged pharmacists.

See if any of these apply to you.

  1.  You lack a connection to your work.

On a basic level, there are two vital components that must exist in order for us to be successful in our work.

  • We must know what is expected of us.
  • We must be given the tools and resources to accomplish what is expected of us.

It goes without saying that if you are unclear about your mission or if you are unable to accomplish that mission because you don’t have the necessary resources, you will quickly find yourself feeling frustrated. If you routinely face shortages of medication or labor, or if you have too many responsibilities and not enough time, you will likely find it hard to stay engaged in your work.  

You must also understand your organization’s mission, and you must have a sense that the organization is actively working toward that mission in its actions and values. If you work for an organization that claims to prioritize patient care but routinely makes decisions that undermine patient care, you will likely find yourself feeling alienated from your work and your fellow employees.

Burnout is real, and it results when pharmacists find themselves in unmanageable work situations with no hope for improvement. Aside from the obvious consequences of disengagement at work, there are health components to burnout as well.

Understand that pharmacists who are connected to their work are more effective pharmacists. They are more efficient and better able navigate the difficulties of their daily job. The result is a win-win-win for employer, employee, and patient.

Refuse to accept disconnection as a necessary part of your job.

  1.  No one seems to notice your personal contributions.

Your decision to pursue pharmacy is part of your story. If it were simply a case of counting pills and printing labels, anyone could do it.

You likely chose pharmacy because it combines your strengths and talents with a desire to help people. Perhaps your reasons were personal.

The fact remains that you bring something unique to the table.

Maybe it’s your ability to build authentic connections with your patients; or your willingness to innovate when the situation demands it; or even your ability to lead those you work with and convey the importance of their work to them.

Whatever the reason, you bring talents and abilities to the table that others can’t duplicate. If your employer doesn’t recognize and acknowledge that, you’ll ultimately find yourself alienated from your work.

Your manager should take the time to thank you for specific contributions you’ve made to the larger effort. She should acknowledge those moments when you exceed expectations and she should publicly recognize your work.

If no one seems to notice your accomplishments, don’t assume the problem is yours.  Don’t assume that all jobs are this way, and don’t assume that you’re stuck here.


  1.  Communication is irregular and unreliable.

Communication is the lifeblood of any organization. It’s how leaders share the mission, the plan, and the “why” of everything the organization does.

It’s also how employees communicate to their leadership that problems exist; that certain aspects of the job are unworkable. It’s crucial in a pharmacy setting where pharmacists, techs, and managers share information vital to patient care.

It’s impossible to find your place as a member of a team if you find that information trickles to you long after it was originally disseminated, or if you frequently hear about things through irregular and improper channels. It’s also impossible to thrive if you’re hearing information but you aren’t being heard.

Your input matters and employees who have “buy-in” at work are engaged, efficient employees. Employees whose input is discounted eventually find themselves feeling jaded and disinterested in their work.

You have gained hard-fought experience during your years in pharmacy, and you’ve learned what works and what doesn’t. That experience absolutely mattered when you were hired; why doesn’t it seem to matter now?


  1.  You don’t see a clear path to advancement or growth.

The era of 30-year tenures at a single company has ended. Today’s workforce spends an average of 4.2 years in a single job before moving to something else.

If your current job offers no clear opportunity to grow or improve, ask yourself why.

  • If your company expects you to be invested in its mission, shouldn’t it invest in you?
  • If your leadership values you as a person, shouldn’t they be interested in your growth?
  • If management wants you to stay, shouldn’t they offer you the means to advance?

Your leadership should take an interest in your personal growth and development and should be willing to personally invest in your advancement. They should understand your need to stay competitive in the industry, and they should seek opportunities to support you in that endeavor through personal mentorship, learning opportunities, and other means.

If you’re part of the millennial generation, your entire age group is often defined by its need and desire for personal growth and development. It’s part of the generational DNA. Even if you aren’t part of that group, many of us are hard-wired with a desire to do work that matters. It may be one of the main reasons you chose this industry in the first place.

If your current job doesn’t offer the sense that you’re growing and improving, don’t settle. Don’t buy into the notion that you’re trapped.


  1.  You have no idea how you would change any of this.

When the negatives outweigh the positives of your work, the result can be crippling. You likely have a family and a mortgage payment to think about, and you make really great money.

Of course you’d love to find a job that suits you better, but shouldn’t you just be willing to make the best of this situation?

I have personally connected with dozens of pharmacists who felt this way about their own careers. They were demoralized and unfulfilled, and they lived for their days off.

Somewhere along the way, though, each of them took a chance. They dug deep and found the courage to try things that most people were too afraid to do. They considered new possibilities and they ultimately created the means to do work they love.

Yeah, but my situation is complicated.

Of course it is. You’re a complex, complicated human being with other things to think about besides simply being happy; but what if happiness could be part of the equation?

  • What if you didn’t have to do work you hate in order to earn a great living?
  • What if you didn’t have to be shackled to your current job by a great paycheck?
  • What if there were other people who exactly understood your predicament?

Welcome to The Happy PharmD Summit, a career conference for pharmacists who are dissatisfied with their current pharmacy work and are seeking to transition into non-traditional pharmacy jobs.

The Happy PharmD Summit is a place for stories; a place for disappointed pharmacists to hear from others who once felt exactly the same way about their own jobs. It’s a place to discuss possibilities: to consider ideas you likely never thought of before. Or, if you already have ideas, it’s a place to figure out how to proceed.

Most importantly, it’s free. The online summit costs you nothing but time and effort. In exchange for showing up, you’ll hear from more than 20 pharmacists who transitioned out of their traditional pharmacy jobs into opportunities that represent the best of all possibilities. These influencers have a body of insider information that will inspire and educate you.

Don’t allow your pharmacy story to end here. If you’re unhappy in your work, take control of your situation and refuse to let others decide what happens next. Even if you love your current job, consider what the next chapter in your career might hold and explore the possibilities.

Begin crafting your own pharmacy story that will someday inspire others to find work they love.

Last modified: March 6, 2018