After eight years, Dr. Ken O’Shea recently quit his role as a retail pharmacist to pursue a career in insurance. He shared his experience and reasons for quitting in an interview with the New York Times. One of the reasons he cited was the increasing pressures on the job due to the COVID-19 pandemic. His colleagues were resigning, his workload was increasing, and patients were angrier. He decided it was best to get out even though this was a job he once loved. Not many pharmacists are comfortable taking the risk, and many are left stuck in their roles despite the worsening work conditions or other factors that make the job less appealing.
What does it mean to be stuck in your career?
Many pharmacists can relate to the feeling of being stuck or unhappy. Probably, you have been in a particular position for a long time without being promoted. You had imagined practice to be way better than it currently is five years down the line. While you enjoyed your job a couple of years ago, with the added responsibilities due to the COVID-19 pandemic or raising a family, things no longer add up. You admire a change in your work conditions but stop short at going through with the process required because you are not sure if there is anything better out there for you. You have stayed too long in your current position that you are comfortable with the routine and nothing challenges you anymore. You have reached your “upper limit” and do not see the need to achieve more.
What can you do to get out?
There are some suggestions that will come in handy in helping you chart a course of action to change the narrative. The team at the Happy PharmD has come up with a number of them that you can immediately implement to change your career trajectory.
1. Spend time in self-assessment
You are primarily responsible for how far you will go in your professional life.
- What was your career plan 5 or 10 years ago?
- Where did you imagine yourself to be?
- Are you where you planned to be?
Maybe it is time for you to revisit your vision board and track your progress.
- Also, ask yourself, what value do you bring to the company?
- Are you better off now than you were when you started the job?
- Do you feel adequately rewarded?
- Are you constantly stressed or depressed?
- What are your priorities at this time?
- Is it family or your professional development that matters most to you now?
Going through these questions will enable you to assess your current state, how you got there, and probably give you an idea or two on what you can do to turn things around.
2. Assess your current situation with a career counselor/mentor
After spending some time with yourself, you may need to gain further clarity and advice from a career counselor or mentor. When you find yourself stuck, your first instinct should not be to approach management. Your emotions at this time may affect how you communicate your displeasure and send the unintended message across. However, when you speak with a mentor, you can be free and express exactly how you feel. Your mentor will, in turn, offer advice to help you make the right decision. They will also give you a more objective assessment of your situation. It may require that you stay put in your current position on new terms or begin to seek a new job actively. The career counselor will help you overcome your fears and come up with effective strategies to negotiate for a better working environment or seek a better position that aligns with your interests and personality.
3. Discuss with management/supervisor
Following a clarity session with your mentor and/or career counselor, you can now request a meeting with management. Clearly outline the conditions of the job that are unfavorable to you. If you are doing so much more than your job description states, now is the time to negotiate a salary increment to reflect the new responsibilities. If you want your work hours modified so you can spend more time with family or devote more time to other interests, you can present it. It may also be that you have decided to quit your job. Communicate so clearly with management and leave with a good reputation.
4. Put your finances in order
You might be wondering, what do my finances have to do with feeling stuck? Well, it has everything to do with it. If you don’t plan your finances properly, you lose the leverage to think beyond your present position. When you constantly live in fear and are burdened thinking about how to pay back loans on your credit cards, it is difficult to leave your job even if you don’t like it. This is because leaving will make your next job search a desperate endeavor, and you will end up repeating the cycle. Having healthy savings and investments will allow you to plan your next career move and make logical decisions. You can afford to leave a more lucrative but stressful job for one that may pay less initially but guarantees job satisfaction. Start now by keeping your expenses in check and cultivating a savings culture.
6. Develop a new career plan and follow-through
What would you consider to be your ideal career? What are the steps you will need to take to get there? Now is not the time to withdraw further into your shell. No matter how long you have spent in your current position, you can start dreaming again. Think and plan for the long term. You need to step out of your comfort zone and create the happiness you desire. Making a change is not easy. It may require you to learn and master a new skill, take personal development courses, or go through the process of working on your resume/cover letter and start applying for new roles. The journey will not be smooth as you will need to reprogram your mind. However, in the end, it is worth it.
We hope with these few suggestions; you will begin taking the necessary steps required for your career progress. If you would like to speak with a career coach at the Happy PharmD, click here. Remember, it is not the end for you. Many have been in your shoes before and gone on to have more fulfilling careers. You also can do it. We are rooting for you.
Alex is the Founder of The Happy PharmD. He loves anime, his family, and video games, but not in that order.