Many people ask what it takes to be a good pharmacist. Pharmacists who love their profession, and are passionate about serving customers/patients whether it is within the community setting or a hospital, and have the drive to keep evolving their skill set and learn new things may have the “right stuff.” Similar to many other jobs, if one dislikes/detests their job and dreads going to work every day, then the person might not be the most motivated to excel in their specialty, and less likely to be a good representative of their chosen occupation for other future career seekers. Passion, enjoyment, and motivation are few of the key ingredients needed for a long and successful career as a pharmacist regardless of the type of pharmacy setting.
Pharmacists also need to proficient in certain academic subjects that are part of their everyday usage at the workplace. Subjects such as mathematics, chemistry, biology, and physiology heavily influence the study of pharmacy and its applications. Mathematics is highly emphasized in pharmacy school, and is essential for patient safety as pharmacists will need to be accurate with duties such as pharmaceutical recipe calculations, measuring medication dosages, mixing the correct amount of ingredients, and dispensing the correct quantity of medications. Chemistry, biology, and physiology enables a pharmacist to understand the medication effects on the human body and vice versa. The complexities that involve taking multiple medications and its interactions with each other and the human body are courses that are usually part of the pharmacy school curriculum.
Good pharmacists should be able to communicate with people well as pharmacists are usually the first point of contact or support for questions relating to medications for patients, doctors, and nurses. Being able to educate the public and answer questions are an essential responsibility and opportunity for pharmacists to represent their field as the drug information specialists. Pharmacists educate patients on the correct way to take the medications, side effects to expect, cost, and encouraging them to always take the medication as prescribed (compliance). Pharmacists are also present to answer drug information questions for doctors and nurses regarding proper dosages, preparation instructions, drug availability, and alternative options if the drugs prescribed are not available.
Good attitude is recommended in the workplace. The job of a pharmacist could get stressful with hoards of orders, issues with incorrectly written orders, insurance claim issues, telephone calls, talking to customers, etc. Having the right composure, patience, and attitude will go far in this field. No one likes approaching grumpy pharmacists and doing business with them, especially when there are other pharmacies around the corner to transfer prescriptions to. Good customer service with a smile will be remembered by customers, however irascible some may be.
Pharmacists who are always on the “cutting edge” will always be a step ahead of their peers. In order to stay ahead of the pack, pharmacists should join or register as members with their local or national pharmacy organizations where they will have opportunities to attend interesting continuing education seminars, network with other practicing pharmacists, and be eligible for other educational opportunities not available to the public. Also, subscribing to pharmacist publications and periodicals will provide the pharmacist with consistently new educational material delivered to the home or workplace.
There are many solutions and steps to becoming a solid pharmacist. Strong proficiencies in the basic sciences and mathematics will provide a sound foundation for the future pharmacist. The passion to serve the public, and the love of the profession will enable most pharmacists to motivate themselves to improve their skills and knowledge each day for the betterment of serving the community.