I wrote the pharmacy book Indispensable: The Prescription for a Fulfilling Pharmacy Career because five years ago, my job was making everything in my life miserable. I hated my work, and I didn’t feel like I was making a difference. I also didn’t know how to move beyond that “stepping stone” job.
As I crossed paths with more and more pharmacists, I discovered that many of them felt exactly the same way.
In response to this dissatisfaction among my peers, I launched The Happy PharmD, a platform designed to help pharmacists find fulfilling work and financial freedom.
Across the board, I discovered that a majority of pharmacists feel burned out by unrealistic goals and expectations in the workplace.
To make matters worse, technology contributes to the problem because it’s difficult to keep up with changes. In a nutshell, technology continues to eliminate pharmacy positions even as the need for clinical services increases.
In some cases, our work has been systematized to such an extent that pharmacists feel like little more than cogs in a machine.
Compound all of that with the explosion in the number of pharmacy schools over the last 10 years, which has created a supply problem: the industry is producing new pharmacists faster than it’s producing new jobs.
I learned, too, that the rates of professional burnout are climbing in industries across the workforce, as captured in Christina Maslach’s book, The Truth About Burnout.
Worse yet, the suicide rate for pharmacists shouldn’t be the 14th highest out of 400 occupations.
I decided that I could make the biggest difference for pharmacists by helping them discover what they really want to do and helping them find fulfilling work.
I read Stephen Covey’s book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change and it revolutionized my life.
I was about to graduate from pharmacy school, and the book helped me recognize some tendencies in myself that weren’t ideal: I was an extremely selfish person, I didn’t value other people the way I should have, and I often used people to my own advantage.
Those weren’t the values I wanted to live by. I was a new dad, and the book forced me to ask myself whether I was the man I wanted to be for my daughters.
When I realized the impact that Covey’s book had in my own life, I wanted to create the same kind of life-changing book for pharmacists. Though I don’t claim to have the same skill or original ideas that Covey did in his book, I wanted to create content that would help pharmacists feel happy at the end of the day.
I wanted them to have the confidence that they could take control of their careers again. My pharmacy book Indispensable aims to do exactly that.
I tackled the fears associated with the book head-on. I was scared of what other people would think and I worried that everyone would hate it.
What if people don’t trust me? What if I write this book and no one buys it?
Then I worried about the negative reviews people might write about my book. Every writer, no matter how great, has detractors.
In the end, I decided it was worth the risk if I could make some kind of difference for other pharmacists like me. My fears of failure were offset by my own personal experience with burnout. I decided to get raw and real about the feelings of despair that I had as a pharmacist.
I’ve always known that I wanted to write, but my past efforts weren’t that good. In the case of Indispensable, I knew that I wanted to put down on paper what was deep inside my soul.
I started by hiring a coach who, like all good coaches, helped me overcome the self-imposed barriers that stood between me and success.
Most of us never achieve our goals because we fail to take action. To those people who say that knowledge is power, I respectfully disagree. If all we needed to reach our goals was more information, then everyone would be successful. I needed to take action, and my coach helped me do that.
Truth is that I’ve hired several coaches over the course of my life, and I’ve never been disappointed by the results. It’s an investment in myself and it helps me grow and overcome my fears.
The difference for those who succeed is a powerful relationship with someone who holds you accountable to what you want to achieve.
I started writing the week of Thanksgiving in 2017, and I remember writing the first 60,000 words and running into imposter syndrome. My fear of being perceived as a fraud was so powerful that I completely stopped writing.
My coach encouraged me to write out my fears about the book as a way to address and overcome them, and some of those writings eventually became part of the final draft of the book.
By January 2018, I had my first draft, and I hired a New York Times bestselling book editor to help edit the book and to help organize my discombobulated, disconnected writing.
In March of 2018, I got the first draft back, and my editor had cut it down from 54,000 words to about 42,000. I had to completely retell stories and reconnect ideas in new ways.
The editor finished the second edit in July, and I got the next version back in August of 2018, about the same time I quit my full-time pharmacy job.
The legacy of my pharmacy book Indispensable
My family was one of my main motivators for writing this book. Aside from wanting to help pharmacists, I wanted to build a legacy with my business that I can leave behind for my family.
My biological father abandoned me when I was very young, and my adopted father stepped in to show me what it means to be a man who has faith and principles. Because I’m grateful for his guidance, I want to help make adoption possible for families who might not be able to afford it.
To accomplish that, I decided to donate 100 percent of the profits from this book to family adoption services. The purchase of this book will go toward making families whole.
It will also help you seize control of your career and your future. It’s written to remind you that your career doesn’t have to be miserable and unfulfilling.
Grab a copy of this book on Amazon and read and review it. If you review this book on Amazon, I’ll gladly send you an Amazon gift card for your effort. It would mean the world to me.
As a pharmacist, you have more career options than you ever imagined. Whether you build a side-hustle, find a different pharmacy job, move into a non-traditional pharmacy job, or leave the field all together, you absolutely don’t have to stay where you are.
Decide to do something about it. Pick a direction and begin moving. You may make a few wrong turns along the way, but it beats staying where you are. It beats feeling miserable in your work.
Don’t assume you’re the only one who feels this way.
I know, because I’ve been there.
Alex is the Founder of The Happy PharmD. He loves anime, his family, and video games, but not in that order.