It’s amazing how your perception of the profession of pharmacy changes as you gain experience. You start to see things you didn’t notice before. Or maybe, you notice things you just didn’t want to see before?
I remember earlier in my career. When I first became a licensed pharmacist, the job would occasionally keep me up at night.
Today the stresses of community pharmacy can still cause me sleepless nights. But the root causes of those fits of insomnia have expanded.
When I first started checking prescriptions as a licensed pharmacist my focus was very internal. I was so worried about making a misfill or harming a patient. A couple of times I actually called back to work just to verify some little detail with a particular prescription was correct.
The funny thing about that admission is the fact that the veteran pharmacist I worked with at the time understood. I wasn’t treated as if I was some kind of anomaly. What I was going through was expected as a new practitioner.
For me, it was so easy to put on my blinders and think about my own little pharmacy world. I rarely expanded my focus to anything bigger than my own career. I was happy to be employed and to experience positive cash flow!
When I first started working I didn’t much consider all of the outside forces that could impact my ability to do my job. You could call it the delusion of control. I only needed to make sure my prescriptions were correct and that my pharmacy wasn’t making mistakes. My patients were doing fine so wasn’t the whole profession OK?
It was so easy to get caught up in the work of being a pharmacist that I forgot about what it meant to be one in the first place. I didn’t see the bigger picture. I didn’t think bigger than myself.
The good news is that after you get some experience, some of the anxiety about making mistakes subsides. You gain confidence in your abilities and knowledge. Misfills seem more likely a result of carelessness as much as a personal inability or shortcoming. You start to question the factors that could result in a mistake or even encourage them.
And then you realize there is a bigger picture to the profession. You realize that forces much bigger than yourself are working in ways you never dreamed or feared to influence your ability and even desire to do your job.
It is this realization that has made me think a little differently now. I pay attention to the news more than before. I try to stay informed and even dare to contribute in some small ways. I see the connections that things can have with my ability to do my job. And it’s because I bother to look.
That’s really one of the only pieces of advice I can give to pharmacy students. Learn to look at the profession with lenses bigger than yourself. It will serve you well as the forces of change impact your pharmacy career.
I think we’d all be better served thinking a little bigger than ourselves. The issues and challenges we face will be much easier to tackle as a group project rather than a bunch of independent studies.
It’s time to see the forest AND the trees. It’s time to think big, and then think bigger.