I recently sat down with my client Tracy Dabbs to discuss how the services we provide at The Happy PharmD helped her transition into a more fulfilling career.
Tracy loves being a pharmacist and had worked in the pharmacy industry for more than 15 years before losing her position due to downsizing. Suddenly out of work and unable to find a job despite her best efforts, Tracy knew it was time for a change.
What were some of the problems you experienced before working with The Happy PharmD?
I had been a pharmacy tech with Walmart for 11 years and then moved into a pharmacist position with them after graduating from pharmacy school. When the store I helped to open had to close, it was really scary.
I was out of work for about two months despite applying to many jobs. And even though I was eventually offered a position, right from the start, it didn’t feel right.
I knew I needed to make a change.
I began researching other job opportunities and discovered The Happy PharmD. I knew there was something I just wasn’t doing right. With your help, I applied to - and got - the job I have and love.
Applying to so many positions must have been very frustrating. Can you tell us a little bit about what you went through?
I interviewed for a consulting company and felt great about the interview but I didn’t get the job. At another interview, I knew within five minutes of being there that I wouldn’t be offered the position.
It was all very frustrating because I had so many years of experience and it didn’t feel like people were seeing the potential that I could offer.
I’m reminded of one of our first conversations. Thinking back to everything you told me about pharmacy made me question if you should even stay in the field. Do you remember that?
Certainly! At the time, I was really surprised to hear that because I had been working in pharmacy since I was 18 years old. It never crossed my mind to try something new and no one had ever suggested it.
I was kind of angry, actually, at the question. Angry at myself, but in a good way, because it got me thinking.
I love being a pharmacist and I remember saying that I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. I realize now that there are other opportunities I could have explored in the same field but I’m still really happy with what I’m doing.
Take us to the moment when our program started to make a difference for you.
I didn’t know how to interview. I never knew what questions to expect or the best way to answer them. I never even had an interview with Walmart; I just walked into a store and asked them about pharmacy positions. They needed a tech and I started a week later! And when I graduated with my pharmacy degree, the position was waiting for me.
Learning how to effectively prepare for an interview probably helped me out more than anything else.
We also talked about the problem of choosing the next step and thinking about where your career was going.
I liked that we focused on only two or three things at a time so that I had options to consider without being too scattered. Previously I would apply for a position and then wait five weeks just to be told no.
With your help, I was no longer putting all my eggs in one basket so it was okay if something fell through because I was already working on other opportunities.
How are things going now? What is different now than before with your previous job?
My stress level is down 90%! I have an amazing schedule and the job I have suits my personality. I’m able to travel more and I really enjoy it. It’s a good fit for everyone.
Previously, as a retail pharmacist, I felt like I was a disposable commodity. In this new position, I don’t feel that way anymore. I still work part-time in a retail setting and I enjoy that pharmacy work but I really enjoy spending the rest of my time doing what I love.
I also think that spending time away from the retail side of things has given me a new perspective. I feel refreshed and I’m able to be the best pharmacist I can be when I am on the job.
It has been a learning curve and while it is certainly not perfect, I really enjoy it. I have to teach myself which is hard but, at the same time, I’m able to offer my own ideas toward finding solutions and that is exciting.
What is one important lesson you learned from the process of working with a career coach?
Working with a career coach helped me to realize that I could do something different and stay in the pharmacy field at the same time.
I had the chance to have an open conversation recently with the woman who first interviewed me for my current position. She recalled that one of the strengths of my interview was my ability to give examples that were not pharmacy-related. With your help, I was able to speak about myself as more than a pharmacist and it set me apart from the other applicants.
I realized it was okay to be more than a pharmacist. I have stories, I travel, I enjoy the sport of curling, I make jewelry - I was able to relate to people outside of the pharmacy field and that made all the difference.
How would you describe The Happy PharmD services to other pharmacists?
As pharmacists, we’ve invested so much time in school and I think we forget how important we are. We deserve to be happy. We deserve a career that is satisfying. We spend so much time taking care of others that we forget to take care of ourselves.
A career coach is an investment in yourself. I’m glad that I took the chance and invested in myself. It is the best thing I could have done. I am so grateful that I took the time to work on myself.
What would you say to someone who is considering a career coach but is unsure if it is the right move?
I feel that someone who is on the fence and unwilling to take that next step is probably someone who is not yet committed to making a change.
Being fearful is understandable but you have to try anyway if you want to make a change. You have to get off the fence. Don’t sit back and wonder, years from now, what you could have done if you had only tried.
Don’t stay unhappy. There is a good fit for everybody if you are willing to work to find it. As pharmacists, we already have a good educational foundation to build on. Real change is possible.
Any final thoughts to share about The Happy PharmD?
Working with a coach is a commitment. I still look back through my notes from our time together and I’m always impressed with how far I’ve come.
It can be done and I’m glad I did it.
Alex is the Founder of The Happy PharmD. He loves anime, his family, and video games, but not in that order.