Is This Why Pharmacists Have No Job Security?
Imagine if The Hunger Games used “Children killing children” as their marketing slogan. You would have witnessed uproar. The movie may have never made it to theatres.
However, that's what The Hunger Games is about: children killing children.
I didn't enjoy the story behind The Hunger Games, but I gravitate toward stories that involve the hero fighting against the opposition.
I genuinely like movies that inspire us to fight against oppressive systems in our lives. (And I don't think I'm alone; I think the box office would agree with me here.)
I equate the American education system to our version of The Hunger Games. It’s an oppressive system built on the ideals of freedom, and it exploits the American dream in exchange for the promise of a financially rewarding career that supports a fulfilled lifestyle.
Americans have 1.5 trillion dollars in loans. The AACP’s Graduating Student Survey in 2018 revealed the average pharmacy graduate has an average of $166,528 in loans – and approximately 85% of the 2018 class graduated with debt.
The financial crisis this exerts on someone just starting out in life can be catastrophic.
Do you know what’s even more frustrating about this for pharmacists?
That the American education system has turned pharmacists into glorified technicians. Highly-trained, highly-glorified technicians who struggle to maintain their self-worth, creativity, and purpose in their career.
Are Pharmacists Competing in the American Hunger Games?
Let’s backtrack our history a little.
The Industrial Revolution.?
It was a period during which America boomed with business. Opportunities for a new life attracted plenty of immigrants, which was great. Many immigrants were ambitious dreamers. They were risk-takers; the problem was that they weren't always well educated.
Before the Industrial Revolution, education was a privilege, not a right. Educated, well-established families in Europe stayed in Europe. Therefore, the American education system was designed to create a trained populace of laborers who held general skills on demand.
Similar to the way Henry Ford created the conveyor belt system and revolutionized the automobile industry, our education system created a conveyor belt system of highly educated graduates.
Like a part to a machine, each graduate receives a degree of expertise that makes him or her, at their bare minimum, capable of performing work-related tasks dictated by boards of education.
Pharmacists invest 6 to 8 years of their time in college and sign off with a significant amount of financial debt. We anticipate that our employer will give us a taste of money and stability – the real American dream – in return for our hard work.
However, this isn’t the case. If a pharmacist is not unemployed, she’s under-employed. Or she’s fully employed yet also entirely burned out by her work.
Some Pharmacists Feel They’ve Become as Dispensable as the Prescriptions They Fill. Are You One of Them?
Back to my assertion: Pharmacists have become glorified technicians. What would drive me – a pharmacist -entrepreneur and career strategist – to say that?
We undergo years of grueling education and training, develop precise technical skills, and learn to make supportive recommendations.
Because our performance as pharmacists is technically dominated. Many feel like cogs in the pharmacy machine. Our daily contributions boil down to metrics in a system characterized by stress and paperwork.
Pharmacist work rarely involves solving critical problems in the healthcare system. Some career niches are the exception, such as informatics. But rather than solve big problems, pharmacists fulfill a technical role to solve predefined problems: medication use.
This problem, a solution provided by pharmacists, has existed for hundreds of years, and it threatened to extinction by innovation.
Pharmacists fulfill the role of a technician that is threatened by innovation.
Technical positions, regardless of industry, tend to become highly mechanized. Fears of technology taking over also exist. I’ve spoken to some pharmacist clients who believe they’ll be jobless due to technological advancement in addition to company needs and preferences.
Why should any company, or any of its shareholders, have the power to dismiss us so quickly? We're humans who provide immense value, not automated machines with charging stations.
We’ve worked too hard to be dispensable.
How You Can Become Indispensable and Attract Unique Pharmacy Career Opportunities
How can you shift from fearful to fearless? How can you reveal your unique value to become indispensable? Are you ready to take control of your pharmacy career in this stagnant job industry?
First, let go of the fantasy that this industry – or any industry period – will make money and stability happen for you. Nobody is going to ensure you’re going to have a long and prosperous career.
Let’s say you feel stuck in your retail pharmacy career. You may feel like you’ll never get ahead, or move away from that position, but that’s not that case. You have options, even if the challenges feel insurmountable.
You just have to step up and take control.
You are the only person who can make money and stability happen for yourself – and you can do that regardless of whether that's within the pharmacy industry or another career path.
You are responsible for making yourself indispensable.
Next, start to welcome obstacles as opportunities. Yes, as pharmacists, we take on massive student loan debt, work strenuous schedules, and often feel trapped in our career. However, to remain stuck is a choice, and you always have options.
How to Increase Your Pharmacy Career Opportunities
To be a technician is to be dispensable. Dispensability is dangerous, especially when you're fighting to remain high-value in a competitive market.
You’ve worked too hard for your credentials to remain low-hanging fruit. You should have a zero-tolerance policy for feeling trapped in the status quo.
Pharmacisty roles should be more than technical. Pharmacists could uncover plenty of pharmacy career opportunities if they were trained to be leaders and medical decision-making providers. We need to do more than provide recommendations; we deserve the chance to deliver hardline fast results also.
I am devoted to transforming the industry. I believe authentic leadership and entrepreneurship tracks should be offered in our pharmacy curriculums.
Everyone’s not cut out to be a leader or entrepreneur, however having experienced industry leaders mentor others in the arts of entrepreneurship, risk, and innovation can positively influence pharmacists to become problem-solvers rather than problem-focused technicians.
Let’s help more pharmacists become entrepreneurs and problem solvers. Once this happens, I predict more pharmacy job creation, business development, and career fulfillment for pharmacists whose passion remains loyal to this industry.
Escape the Pharmacist Rat Race
Do you feel trapped in your job? Have you experienced burnout, yet have no method of escaping your situation? Has your career path gone stagnant?
Listen. You don’t have to be a burned out pharmacist. You have options – and knowing is half the battle.
Grab a free copy of my book, Indispensable. It's a practical resource for anyone who is currently rethinking their pharmacy career strategy. I also invite you to check out my Career Masterclass. It’s a free web class that will teach you how to escape burnout, get job offers regularly, and take control of your career.