Your choice of college might greatly impact your professional future; or it might not.
Lots of people have lots of opinions about the importance of college choice for pharmacists.
PayScale’s annual college salary report found that those earning the highest incomes earned their bachelor’s degrees at highly selective colleges. The Journal of Human Resources, published by the University of Wisconsin Press, also found that more elite schools tended to produce better paychecks for its alumni.
It’s also widely understood that networking opportunities play an important role for graduates from blue-chip universities.
On the other hand, the National Bureau of Economic Research reported in 1999 that the earning potential for graduates of less-selective schools varied little from that of the more selective ones.
College choice for pharmacists
The truth about college choice for pharmacists probably exists somewhere in the middle. In some cases, your choice of schools may open doors, but it won’t likely earn you the job without effort on your part.
The more important truth is that you can craft a valuable pharmacy career no matter where you go to college.
No matter where you attend pharmacy school, the skill set necessary to craft a successful pharmacy career is the same. You’re likely to be working with a variety of people from varying backgrounds, and your ability to build relationships will have little to do with where you went to college.
The very best pharmacy schools will teach you how to nurture trust and create value on your way to establishing a trust pharmacy brand.
Build trust with your patients
In an era of increased competition among pharmacies, loyal customers may be your organization’s most important resource. Because we know that it costs more to find a new customer than it does to retain an existing one, your pharmacy’s trustworthiness matters.
The American Pharmacist Association reported in 2016 that pharmacists enjoy the highest level of trust among healthcare professionals, with 60 percent of patients indicating a trust in their pharmacists.
Patients who trust their pharmacists become patients who build relationships with their pharmacists, and that generally means longevity.
Begin by listening to your patients. If you observe patterns among those in your community, like a struggle to control diabetes, build services around those challenges. Provide solutions to the very real problems your patients face.
Follow up with your patients regularly, especially in the case of negative feedback. It’s tempting to avoid difficult conversations, but hard feelings don’t typically go away on their own. Address the issues directly to help your patients feel heard.
Your choice of college won’t immediately make you an effective pharmacist: your trustworthiness will.
Establish trust among your team
Members of a pharmacy team must work together closely to ensure accuracy and efficiency for its patients.
You must inspire confidence in the people who work with you and respect every member of your team. When team members are confident that they are working toward a common goal, collaboration can exist because individual members aren’t focused on taking credit.
Rather than focusing on seniority, recognize the individual talents of every team member.
Support others when you can so that they will likely respond in-kind when you need help.
Recognize successes and hard work, and evaluate how the team as a whole can improve.
Just as you work to listen to your customers, do the same for the members of your team. People who believe that their input is valued will likely continue to offer it. The inverse is also true.
When you’re making your college choice, choose a school that values collaboration and teamwork.
Create a valuable pharmacy brand
The best college choice for pharmacists is a school that understands the importance of creating a valuable brand. And no, a brand isn’t simply the company you work for.
The pharmacy landscape changes almost daily, and pharmacies that survive will be those that understand the value of their own brand.
Simon Sinek says that people aren’t interested in what you do; they care more about why you do it. They care more about the human aspect of your work than the list of services available to them at your pharmacy.
Whatever your organization’s brand is, communicate that to your team members, first. A valuable brand relies heavily on buy-in from the people who represent that brand.
Then, help your team understand the value of communicating that brand to your patients. If your passion is adherence, help your team and your patients understand why adherence matters to you and why it should matter to them. Ensure that every member of the team is on board and all in.
Refuse to allow members of the team to undermine your brand. Work to create a culture that communicates your brand in everything that you do.
Take control of your pharmacy career
The most important consideration in terms of college choice for pharmacists is choosing a school that fits you personally. Name recognition and networking power mean nothing if you’re not successful in your academics. Additionally, given that the average pharmacy student already struggles under heavy debt loads, the most exclusive schools may limit your future options rather than improving them.
Pharmacists whose academic careers are behind them will likely confirm that there are plenty of capable pharmacy schools to choose from.
Research their values and beliefs and their areas of specialty before deciding where you’ll go. Match them to your own goals to increase the odds of building a valuable pharmacy career.
Alex Barker is a full-time Pharmacist, media company founder, franchise owner, Business Coach, Speaker, and Author. He is also is the founder of The Happy PharmD, which helps busy professionals build successful side businesses.