‘Don’t stay too long in a role where you are unhappy.’

Core questions and top tips for pharmacists and pharmacy staff considering options for their career path

The challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic may have led many pharmacists to reflect on their current role. This month, AJP hosted a webinar for pharmacists on career diversification, featuring two pharmacists who have carved out diverse and interesting career paths.

Fairlie Dunlop

“It is not news to anyone that the current situation we all face has thrown up some challenges,” said co-host Fairlie Dunlop, registered pharmacist and Senior Drugs and Poisons Field Officer with DHHS (Vic).

“In the pharmacy space, this may be from interns struggling to meet exam requirements, from business owners who suddenly might find the viability of their business in question, hospital pharmacists experiencing changes to their roles and responsibilities due to COVID-19 restrictions.

“But otherwise a time of change can also cause us to reflect and consider opportunities to do things differently.”

Helen Lowy

Co-host Helen Lowy, a registered pharmacist and counsellor with a focus on workplace wellbeing, walked webinar participants through three core questions:

  1. Where am I now?
  2. Where do I want to be?
  3. How do I get there?

Her suggestions for pharmacists looking to reflect on their career path included conducting a SWOT analysis and also considering what your values and drivers are.

Did you miss the webinar but have time now? It’s not too late – you can watch the recording here!

Here are Helen Lowy’s Top 10 Tips for pharmacists considering a career shift

1. Dream big. Create your own pathway, dream big and do the research – nothing ventured, nothing gained. Be courageous and recognise that growth occurs outside the comfort zone.

2. Consider secondment. Secondments are a great way to diversify, gain experience, expand networks, whilst minimising the risks, as you have the safety net of a substantive role to return to.

3. Consider concurrent roles. Working two or more part-time roles can be a great way to satisfy diverse interests, i.e. a “portfolio career”.

4. Consider negotiating part-time work. If you are attracted to a full-time role, but can only commit to part-time hours, explore whether the employer would consider two people working part-time to fulfil the role.

5. Don’t under-estimate the value of a great manager. This can be as important as landing a great role, as a great manager can support you in developing and expanding your role, skills and expertise.

6. Consider maintaining registration. When exploring non-traditional roles, it is possible to retain registration as a pharmacist – ensure that you are clear about your scope of practice and continue to pursue CPD in that area.

7. Don’t stay too long in a role where you are unhappy. If it is not possible to bring about positive change where you are, plan your exit strategy and move on. It’s important to work where you are celebrated, rather than simply tolerated.

8. Evaluate yourself. If you are unsure about the destination, continue to evaluate your strengths (and weaknesses), build on them and consider further training and qualifications, so that when the right opportunity comes along you are ready to compete for the role.

9. Remember, pharmacy career pathways are not always linear. Sometimes moving sideways, taking on a role with less responsibility or volunteering can be valuable in creating important experience and connections before progressing in your chosen career.

10. Network. When exploring new career opportunities be proactive in expanding your network especially in your field of interest, expand search terms in job search engines and consider reaching out to seek information and advice from others (e.g. via LinkedIn) that have walked the path that you are interested in.

Watch the full webinar here

Looking for more pharmacy career inspo? Check out 15 ideas for your pharmacy career and the range of specialty career opportunities available to pharmacists

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