Consider These Options Before Quitting Pharmacy

by | Mar 19, 2019 | Burnout, Career

If you are unhappy with your current job and you’re seeking to quit pharmacy, you must figure out your pharmacist options.

That probably sounds tough, especially to pharmacists who are burned out in their jobs and who just want something different.

I understand the sense of urgency because I’ve felt the same thing you do. I wrestled with an unfulfilling job as well as career burnout. It’s what prompted me to write the book Indispensable, designed to help pharmacists create fulfilling careers.


One pharmacist’s story

Frank was also burned out. He was a frustrated pharmacy manager with 25 years of experience.

The pharmacy profession changed tremendously over the course of his career.

“It used to be about helping people,” he said. “Now I don’t know what my job is about.”

As someone intent on helping people move into more fulfilling work, It disheartened me to hear Frank talk about his work. Many pharmacists spend so much time being miserable that leaving seems to be the only option.

Ask yourself this question: what do you really want from your career and your work? Beyond that, can you even obtain it?

Pharmacy no longer resembles the industry you once knew. It focuses on metrics and chooses number-care over healthcare.  Many pharmacists, in fact, report feeling like cogs in the machine.


Pharmacist burnout

The most significant problem facing pharmacy right now is burnout.

Current statistics suggest that nearly two-thirds of pharmacists report at least one symptom of burnout from the three associated with the condition: emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and lack of accomplishment.

The CDC reports that pharmacists have the 14th highest suicide rate out of 482 occupations.  

Most people don’t anticipate suicide as an occupational hazard of pharmacy. Pharmacists help people, they enjoy significant respect as trusted members of their communities, and they earn good money. So what has gone wrong in the profession?

My work with burned-out pharmacists revealed that many in the industry find that their own purposes no longer match those of the companies they work for. I’ve never yet met a pharmacist who joined the profession to help a large company make more money.

In fact, I devoted an entire section of my book to a discussion of purpose, and the discrepancy between personal purpose and career purpose.


Pharmacist options

The emotional struggle for pharmacists whose purposes don’t match can be measurable. It can manifest itself in the form of physical symptoms and pain.

To that end, many pharmacists are seeking options like starting side-hustles or joining multi-level marketing schemes.

In fact, I launched The Happy PharmD because I was suffering the same way. My work wasn’t fulfilling. My purposes didn’t match my organization’s purposes.

I discovered that my own purpose involved helping other people, and I recognized that I can best do that by coaching others into new jobs. I created this outlet to help me achieve my own purposes, but along the way, the two coincided.

My personal purpose and my side-hustle became my full-time purpose in August 2018. I left my job working for the Veterans Affairs to invest myself full time into The Happy PharmD.

You were put on this earth to accomplish something great. Everyone was.


Acknowledging the problem

Unfortunately, you’re being held back by your job. The same job that helps you sustain the lifestyle you’ve created for yourself.

The worst part is that no blog post and no book can help you decide whether you should quit your job. You must begin by acknowledging your situation.

Ask yourself powerful questions. Rediscover your interests and curiosities. Allow those things to drive your career search because you’ll be more inclined to continue learning about things you’re naturally interested in.

Research suggests that those things that challenge us are the same things that fulfill us.

Consider these questions as well:

  • What are you curious about?
  • What aspect of pharmacy interests you?
  • What prompted you to choose pharmacy as a profession?
  • Which parts of healthcare interest you the most?
  • Given a choice, what would you like to be working on?

In my book Indispensable,  I’ve developed a list of questions that will help you dive into your career search. If you already own the book, you can download a resource guide at

Making a move

Ultimately, Frank decided he loved the idea of real estate and he got to work growing his real estate empire. As he gains more properties, he is slowly phasing out the pharmacy part of his career.

You might choose the same kind of path for yourself. Or you might shift your thinking about pharmacy and begin to explore new components of the industry. Talk to pharmacists in other segments and find out what they do. Don’t rule out any pharmacist options as you consider your future.

Meet with a career coach who can help you evaluate all your experience and your interests as you move forward. We help people every week who are struggling to understand how the pharmacy market has changed and who aren’t sure whether their skills will be valued in the marketplace. Some aren’t sure what their skills are, but they lack a clear direction.

But we don’t only work with pharmacists looking to leave the industry. We help them transition into other aspects of pharmacy and sometimes into positions completely unrelated to pharmacy.

We don’t direct them. We simply help them identify where they’d most like to go and the impact they’d most like to make. Then we help them get there quickly.

Whether they choose real estate insurance, facilities management, event planning, photography, or entrepreneurship, we’ve helped them find fulfilling roles and begin the work of replacing their pharmacy income.

Grab a copy of Indispensable today, or visit to download a digital copy. Take the first step toward fulfilling pharmacy work today.


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Creating Happy Pharmacists

If you really want to build the career and life that you’ve dreamed of, one where you are helping people and working in the field that you love, you need to do something different than what you’ve been doing.

Re-discover why you became a pharmacist and find your passion again.