Pharmacists today are looking for ways to diversify their skills and broaden their experience to provide new career opportunities. Sometimes they accomplish this goal with residencies. Other times they pursue additional credentialing and certification programs. But an accessible way to add valuable experience to your pharmacy resume is stepping into a role in pharmacy management or leadership.
Pharmacy businesses of all kinds need leadership. And because management skills will require time to develop, the sooner a pharmacist takes advantage of such opportunities the better. Take a job as a pharmacy manager, supervisor, director or leader if you can. The challenge will stretch your skills and open doors.
I teach an elective in pharmacy management. A student once asked me what it takes to be a exceptional manager. “Mistakes” was my answer. I tend to still think this is the truth. Management is a skill developed best by trial and error. You can read all the books on management you want, and there are some great ones. But nothing compares to getting in and trying it yourself.
The job market right now is saturated for most entry-level pharmacist positions. But for those who are willing to take on additional responsibilities and conquer the learning curve of management, opportunities are not uncommon.
I received an email the other day from a recruiter with the following information:
“Hello Jason. My firm has been retained by ABC Healthcare located in XYZ city to identify candidates for a DIRECTOR of Outpatient Pharmacy position. Under the direction of the System Director of Pharmacy, this position leads, supports and manages two retail pharmacies, and a specialty pharmacy. Job involves ensuring that the operational and clinical aspects of the respective specialty practice areas are in compliance with department policies and procedures, department mission and value statements, hospital core beliefs as well as any federal or state regulations pertaining to or governing pharmacy practice for the purpose of maximizing service and quality.”
A letter from another recruiter reads:
“Hi Jason. Right now we are seeking the Sr. DIRECTOR of Ambulatory Services for a University Health System and an on-site Specialty General MANAGER. I would greatly appreciate any recommendations you have.”
Such communications are not uncommon. Health systems and pharmacies are looking for pharmacists with skills at managing people and running a business efficiently and productively.
The easiest way to begin to launch your career in pharmacy management is by taking on additional responsibilities within your company now. Begin to acquaint yourself with some of the challenges and opportunities going on at the next level of management. Ask for a chance to contribute to a new project or program. And begin to demonstrate the humility, maturity and positive attitude needed for being a great coach.
I am also a shameless fan of reading. I’ll steal a great idea anywhere I can find it. They say the average CEO reads 60 books per year. Managers will do themselves a favor if they supplement their practical experience by reading a few great books on leadership skills.
Finally, finding a mentor in management is priceless. I have had several managers who have taken me under their wings over the years. Thankfully they have let me take a feather or two along the way.
Peter Drucker once stated that “management is doing things right. Leadership is doing the right things.” I agree. But I believe that the pharmacy profession needs both managers and leaders, both often fulfilling the same role and by the same person. And pharmacists looking to extend their opportunities will consider management as an option.