Overcoming the Fear of Changing Pharmacy Jobs


Next to being unemployed, being stuck in a job you don’t love is one of the worst professional experiences for pharmacists or anyone else. Not only is it unpleasant, but it is unhealthy too. In fact, some studies have shown that a job you hate is actually worse for your mental health than having no job at all.

But fear of change, especially the fear of changing jobs, can be crippling for even otherwise intelligent and socially mature individuals. So many changes are involved when you begin a new job: there is a new commute to navigate, new facility to learn your way around, and of course, there are new people including a new boss. The mere anticipation of all these changes is enough to keep many professionals from ever seeking alternative employment.

For pharmacists or technicians, this fear of change may even be worse because of the inherent complexity of health systems and the large learning curve that comes with a transition to new healthcare technology. There may be a new EMR (Electronic Medical Record) to learn, new automation equipment, new communication tools, and new prescription filling software.

It is no wonder that many health care professionals stay in the same job for a long time, even if they don’t like it.

But I believe that most (not all) very successful careers will involve making some changes from time to time. Companies need individuals bold enough to leave their comfort zone and step out into a new job every once in a while. Those who have been in one position for a very long time can lose sight of the change going on around them and may not be as prepared to bring fresh ideas and insights that can only be gained by exposure to other workplaces.

So how does one overcome the fear of change when it seems right to look for a new job?

First, realize you are not alone. No one enjoys the uncomfortable feeling of being brand new at a task or job. But in spite of this, people do it all the time. The average person, depending on the study you read, will change jobs 12 times in their life. Most likely you are working with people right now who are new employees and who made the change. They survived it. So can you. Gather strength from the sheer numbers around you who have done it. Don’t miss your opportunity through fear. As Vincent Van Gogh said “What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?”

Second, understand that the very act of changing and doing new, uncomfortable things will trigger your brain to learn more quickly. Simply put, it makes you smarter. This was documented by Yale neuroscientists recently and published in the journal Neuron. An article in Inc. on this research states “in many areas of life, including the professional domain – we want to continually improve and learn. And to do that you need to avoid the easy and comfortable in favor of the unpredictable and probably hard.” American author and lecturer Gail Sheehy put it well, “If we don’t change, we don’t grow. If we don’t grow, we aren’t really living.”

Third, and finally, be persuaded that all the great things you hope to accomplish in your career will be lost if you stay too long in a dead end job. Socrates put it well, “Let him that would move the world, first move himself.” It is hard to be an agent for change if your career path shows that you are personally uncomfortable with making any moves.

As a pharmacy professional you probably went into this career because of a passion to improve the lives of others. To do this, we generally have to ask our patients to make some changes.  Could it be time to make a change yourself?

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