Where do you go from here?


“Stephanie,” reading your diary entry, I remember feeling the same way when I did not get an opportunity that I wanted. Taking time to reflect as you have done with your paintings is a great way to put things back into perspective. To be upset is normal, and you are right, everything takes time and every event in your life is an opportunity to grow and learn. I always find that the most challenging times are the ones from which I have learned the most. 

Identifying goals to create a path

Now that you have had a little bit of time to reflect, you must jump into action! A fundamental question to ask is: what are my career goals? Think broadly about these, beyond not just where you want to work, but how you want to practice pharmacy and what are you aiming to achieve. 

A lot of different practice sites may offer you the opportunity to attain your goals, even positions that you did not think you would enjoy. For instance, I always thought that I wanted to work in community pharmacy. I started working as a clerk at an independent pharmacy in high school and fell in love with the profession. I realized throughout pharmacy school at MCPHS University Boston that I wanted something different.

I had a seminar class in which we would “SOAP”-up the patients and I found that I really enjoyed that. I liked looking at the subjective and objective information and devising treatment plans with my peers. It was after taking that class in my fifth year that I decided to pursue a residency. I found that a lot of the skills that I learned while working in community pharmacy could truly help me succeed in a residency and in the hospital setting. It was funny to me when I had that “a-ha” moment because I never viewed those two fields of pharmacy translating to one another. 

Embrace new challenges

This may sound cliché, but just because you did not attain the path you wanted for your dream job does not mean that there isn’t another way. Like I noted earlier, remember what your objectives and goals are within pharmacy because there are many paths to attain those visions. If I had constantly focused on obtaining a hospital job, I would have missed gaining a lot of valuable skills that I use today in practice from community pharmacy.

In addition, once I was done with my residency, there was a moment of, “Okay, now that I am done with my PGY1, what’s next?” I knew I wanted a clinical position in order to collaborate with clinicians on patient care; work on developing continuous education programs to nurses and providers, as well as pharmacists; and also a position that allowed me to precept students. I did not get this job right away. About 8 months after working tirelessly in a hybrid operational and clinical role, I was promoted and became a clinical pharmacist, but it took time.

I would recommend looking for a position that affords you the growth and opportunity that you need in order to get where you would like to go. I took that position because I knew there was a possibility for me to advance to become a clinical pharmacist, and I told my supervisor my goal upfront.

That final step

My recommendation to you in applying for any position you want is to be inquisitive and persistent. Try to find out as much as possible about the institution to which you are applying in order to:

1. Enhance your knowledge about the expectations that come with the position

2. Identify if this institution and the career path aligns with your goals.

3. Better prepare yourself when the interview comes.

I have found this process to be successful for me, and I am sure that others will share a process that has worked best for them. Just keep applying and trying different techniques to identify what process works best for you. 

Also, be sure to keep things in perspective, as every opportunity is a chance to learn and grow. The skills that you might obtain while practicing in a setting that isn’t industry might help you land that dream job with a pharmaceutical company. I know this process is challenging, but I believe that you can do it and I wish you all the best in pursing your career in pharmacy! 

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