I would like to tell you about my client Pot (obviously not his real name). Pot is one of my favorite clients to date. He was the client that made me laugh the most. I always looked forward to our sessions, because I know I will be smiling and laughing throughout our coaching sessions.

Pot was a pharmacy manager at a grocery chain pharmacy, and he was miserable. He had a staff pharmacist who wasn’t pulling her weight, and his best technicians were leaving for greener pastures. He tried to talk to his district manager about the problems he was facing, only to be told that he can handle it. He even went to him with an idea to increase compliance with meds, even made a presentation, only to be shot down. Pot was ready to give up.

Throughout our coaching sessions, I had encouraged him to keep focusing on what he loves to do, which is to create content, especially in the pharmacy field. His big idea was to create a platform, where EMRs from local physicians’ offices would be connected to the pharmacy software. That way, the pharmacist can look at labwork to make sure the medications prescribed were appropriate, ask for refills or prior authorizations, send messages to the office directly instead of phone calls or faxes. The office will be able to do the same. This is an initiative that has been started in some areas of the US, but he wanted to bring it to his area. He became less stressed, and things started looking up at his pharmacy job as well. His pharmacist and technicians were replaced and trained, so he wasn’t putting in as much unpaid time as before.

One day, he got a call from an owner from an independent pharmacy, not too far from¬† where he lives. The owner found out about Pot through one of Pot’s former work colleagues, who was currently working for the owner. Pot was intrigued, as the new position involved long term care, something Pot had enjoyed in the past, as well as expanding their current operations, by opening a new pharmacy. The owner and his family met with Pot met, and Pot presented his ideas. After a few weeks, Pot told me that he put in his 2 week notice at the grocery chain pharmacy.

I haven’t spoken to Pot since he told me he gave his 2 week notice at his grocery chain pharmacy, but I’m assuming he is infinitely happier. I know that this new position is a much better fit for him, as he gets to use his managerial skills with the new location, and this owner is very interested in Pot’s ideas of how to be more innovative and more involved in patient care. Not to mention, Pot gets his weekends back.

Best of luck to you, Pot. I hope that this job is everything that you dreamed of, and more.

If you need help finding the right job for you, please reach out to me. Let’s talk.

Looking At My Coaching Journey

This morning was an interesting time for me. I had three coaching calls: one with a former client, one with a present client, and one with a prospective client. All the calls made me wonder about my journey as a career coach.

The first call with my former client was quite insightful. We had talked about what has happened since our coaching contract ended, and how far she has come. I remember telling her that she is one of my success stories. She may not have gotten the job of her dreams after our contract ended, but she has come a LONG way than before we started coaching. Her confidence is much higher, and she is now able to search and meet people, effectively network, and ask for guidance on how to get the position that she is best suited for. She also was able to find ways to make an impact other than in the workplace! She would not have even thought of doing that before the coaching. While speaking with her, she told me that she had mixed feelings about our coaching sessions. She said that even though she was happy of the work she accomplished, she was disappointed that she is not closer to her dream goal. I realized that we always look TOWARD at our goal, but never look BACK to how far we have come from the beginning. I told her that she would not have accomplished her dream goal with her old methods, and I was so proud of her for overcoming some of the roadblocks she faced, and she should be too. For that, she should give herself some credit. She still wasn’t convinced at the end of the conversation, but I know she isn’t beating herself up as much.

The second call with my current client was eye opening. I was used to one coaching style but she wasn’t responding well to my methods. With her, I learned to break things down more than what I was used to, so she can understand. I gave her more examples so she can better understand what I was saying. She liked that I did that, and I walked her through what she was doing wrong, instead of just telling her and giving her an assignment. I will admit that I felt more like a teacher than a coach with her (But then, isn’t a coach one type of a teacher?) It made me realize that I need to be more flexible in my coaching methods, and remember that coaching is not a one-size-fits-all model.¬† I have to constantly change my coaching methods and styles based on the client’s needs and preferences, not my own. This client was a good reminder of that lesson.

The third call with a prospective client brought me shame and humility. She was a perfectly nice girl, with a problem. But, I had judged her after the first five minutes of speaking with her. I thought that there was no way she would want to be coached. After really listening to her, I realized my mistake. She was really open to the idea of coaching, and eager to go further in the process. We will have our first coaching session after next week. This realization was kind of a knee-jerk reaction. We all judge, it’s part of human nature. However, it is up to us to decide whether we are going to stick with that judgement, or change our minds. This girl made me change my mind, and made me shameful for judging her the way I did. I will try to be mindful of the opinions I make, especially for prospective clients. Hopefully I’ll be able to take her on as an actual client.

I look back at these calls, and ponder on how far I’ve come as a career coach. I started on this journey about 10 months ago, and it has been a roller coaster ride. I didn’t start getting paying clients until May of this year, because I had my own roadblocks that prevented my success. I haven’t cleared all of them, but I know people have seen a change in me and my numbers have improved. With each client, I learn something new, whether it is about myself, my coaching practices, or the closing; Each client has given me something valuable (other than the fee). To all of my clients, past, present and prospective, THANK YOU.

I think my own coach(es) would be proud of me.

 

Freaking Out!!!

This week, I thought I made a huge mistake at work, and I let my fear completely take over me. I thought I was done, so I started looking online for a new position, and contacting people in different organizations. I wanted to get a new position somewhat lined up before my employer realized my mistake and decides that I’m not worth the liability. I was FREAKING OUT. I really don’t know how I held it all together while at work, and that no one saw my reactions.

Being told to “step away from the ledge” was kind of a slap in the face. I was like, you don’t know what is going on, and what happened. But it also made me realize that I needed to take a deep breath and really analyze the situation. WHY was I freaking out so badly?

It made me realize that even though I do love my job, and almost everything with it, this is not my passion anymore. I don’t feel like I’m making as big of a difference as I want to in the world. If I kept doing this job, my pipe dream will always be a pipe dream. I wouldn’t get what I really wanted out of life. Do I want to keep doing what I’m doing for the rest of my working life? Because the way the pharmacy field is heading, the answer is NO. We are shifting more away from patient care and more towards metrics and chasing the dollar. I really don’t want to keep doing that for the next 30+ years.

This overwhelming fear of causing patient harm, and realizing that this is NOT what I want to do for the next 30+ years gave me the additional push to go for what I really want to do. Actually, I haven’t figured that part out yet, but I do have an idea. It gave me the push to seek out new opportunities and find my purpose in this life. It gave me the drive to follow this idea, to decide whether this idea IS my purpose in life, or if it will lead to my purpose in life.

At the end of the day, when I was finally called in to talk about what happened, the investigation concluded that what happened was due to faulty equipment, not because of anything that I did. We have had issues with that brand of equipment in the past, so it was no surprise that it failed again. It turned out that I was freaking out over nothing. Or maybe it was the universe telling me that I need to start working on my passion, and not just my job.

Off to find my passion.

Image result for finding your passion meme

Will I Ever Be Good Enough?

That is the fear that I have had for the longest time. Will I ever be good enough for …. fill in the blank here.

I know that this is a very common fear, but knowing that others have gone through the same fear doesn’t have the same comfort. I think it is because we don’t talk about our fears, especially in the pharmacy setting. We are just expected to like whatever job we are in, and if we don’t measure up to the metrics set forth by our employers, however unrealistic they might be, then we believe we are “not good enough.”

It is a scary world out there, especially in the land of pharmacists. Too many employers, especially retail, are cutting their hours, which leads to less staffing in the pharmacy. Too many pharmacy schools have opened up, with more pharmacy schools opening each year, and thus flooding the market. Employers, especially in the clinical setting, have made stricter requirements for their scarce job openings, thus scaring a lot of good capable pharmacists from applying. Residencies have been pushed by the pharmacy schools, yet the number of residencies haven’t increased in proportion to the number of pharmacists now entering the marketplace. It is as if experience doesn’t count anymore. More and more pharmacists have been feeling like they’ve been discriminated because of their age. It seems like employers want younger pharmacists because they are willing to take a lower salary, because they are so grateful to have ANY job. All this leads to the stress of a pharmacist feeling, “Am I good enough?”

This fearful feeling is a very powerful one. It makes us too scared to go outside our comfort zone. We do not believe we would be good for the positions that we really want to go for. We keep berating ourselves for not being good enough to reach the impossible metrics. We internalize our fears and our failures, thinking it is US that is the problem, not the system. Thus, we beat ourselves down to the point that we can’t get back up. And we will always question ourselves about our capability. “Will I ever be good enough?”

How can we get over this fear? Can it be overcome? Most pharmacists will argue no, it cannot. But, I will say that YES, IT CAN BE. I am living proof of it. It took A LOT of hard work, going through correcting many negative beliefs about myself that have been instilled in me throughout the years, and angels dressed as ordinary people to get me out of my own fear of not being good enough. This fear didn’t come over me suddenly; it kept growing stronger as the years passed and my circumstances kept getting worse. So, it took just as long to turn the tables, and grow stronger against this fear. It will not be easy, but it can be done.

Are YOU ready to overcome this fear? For those that already have, how did you do it?

I currently work as a coverage pharmacist for an oncology group, which has in house pharmacies in their clinics all over the state of Texas. I do travel a lot for work, which makes it hard for my social life. But, I love the perks that come with the traveling, I meet with interesting new people at each site that I cover, and I have learned so many new techniques and information at each site. I really do love my job.

I have been asked to take over a site, and stop traveling. I would be in charge of that pharmacy. It would get me off the road, which will improve my social life (supposedly), and I can have a normal routine. However, I would give up the travel perks (goodbye, points, and elite status!)

As a coverage pharmacist, all I had to do was complete the duties of a pharmacist, not of a manager. I was basically there to keep the pharmacy doors open. I didn’t have (as many) responsibilities as a manager.

Deep down, I am scared of taking this position. I would be the pharmacy manager. I would be supervising technicians, and make sure the pharmacy follows all the rules and regulations. I had to organize and make sure all the paperwork was in check. If anything wrong happens at the pharmacy, it would be on me. Would I be able to do all that?

My regional managers all think I would do well at the site they want me to take over, but yes, I do have a lot of self doubt. I’m sure many of you have the same self doubt when given a new opportunity, whether it is a promotion with your current employer, or something new altogether. Tell me, what did you do when you had a new opportunity come your way?

 

 

Wise Words from Steve Jobs

“Your work is going to be fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on.”

Steve Jobs has been a great influence to many people, especially in his last years of life. I definitely look back at this quote when I question my choices in my career. The truth is, in the pharmacy world, how many people really keep looking until they find the work that they are truly satisfied in? One that will utilize their skills and passions together?

Most pharmacists that I know actually just end up settling. Some are fortunate enough to find their dream position; I can finally say that I am one of them. But most feel stuck and unfulfilled in their positions. Those that feel stuck do not even know where to start looking. They are bound by either their financial obligations, or perceived lack of skills. So, how can they keep looking until they find something they love to do?

This is why networking is crucial, especially in today’s job market. How do you know what is truly out there, until you talk to someone who has been doing it for years? In pharmacy school, we are programmed that there are mainly 2 pharmacy settings: retail and hospital. I’m in a very unique hybrid setting of retail/infusion/clinical. I would not have known about this setting if it were not for my friend and mentor telling me.

I would also advise job seekers to not let your perceived lack of skills be considered a big weakness. Actually, it can be used as a big strength. I had no experience or knowledge about oncology (except the week that was taught in pharmacy school). Because I do have a personal interest in oncology, I was willing to learn about it. Currently, I’m proficient in it, although I am not Yoda (we have a colleague that is, and I do reach out to her if I cannot find the answer myself). If it is your passion, or vested interest, you can acquire the skills needed to perform the position you are seeking. Most employers are also looking for valuable members of their organization who are trainable and willing to learn.

I hope that present and future pharmacists do not believe that there are only certain positions that they can hold. Pharmacy is a very broad industry, ranging from the traditional settings, like hospital and retail, to the unique setting like oncology clinic. There are also other industries that could benefit with a pharmacy background, like insurance and research and development. It really just depends what the job seeker perceives as great work to him/her.

I’ll leave another great Steve Jobs quote: “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.”

Comparing Jobs to Guys

I have been hung up on my friend for a very long time. He knows of my feelings for him, yet he also knows that we would never work out as a couple. I still hang out with him, and his friends, even though I know nothing will come out more than friendship. People think that I am settling with this guy, and that I need to move on.

At a recent meetup, eventually the topic shifted between dating and career. One girl mentioned how she really liked the guy, but ended ghosting her. She then started calling, texting, and messaging the guy, yet didn’t get a response. Another girl mentioned how she was calling and emailing job prospects, yet have been getting no response. Sound familiar?

It is really funny how jobs and significant others resemble each other, at least in our perspectives. We try to find the perfect match in either situation. However, in the end, we end up settling, because we do not think we deserve true happiness, or it is just to get by.

At least, I think that way. I’m not really sure about how others think. For the longest time, with both guys, and with my jobs, I was just settling. I felt lucky that someone was paying attention to me, that someone wanted me around. It didn’t matter if the relationship or the job was totally wrong for me. In the end, neither worked out for me.

Currently, I’m in a job that I love. I finally took stock of what I want in a position, and what I have to offer. I wanted a job that was challenging, that put my skills to use, had patient interaction, and have great relationships with physicians and nurses. I wanted to be more clinical, as well as working the operations. I am a preceptor, so I wanted to be able to teach pharmacy students and new pharmacists. I wasn’t picky about the working hours, about the location (well, I didn’t want to relocate), or really the field. In the end, I wound up being an oncology pharmacist in a clinic, with a unusual hybrid setting (clinic/infusion/retail). I gave up settling, and found my dream job.

Now, if only I can stop chasing after the wrong men? Dream man, come soon!!!

Lying on Your CV

I have a cousin who is a pharmacist, currently looking for a new position in Europe. Looks like the pharmacy job market isn’t great in other parts of the world, but I digress. She messaged me about some advice that was given to her by an acquaintance. She was told to put on her CV that she had experience in pharma in UK, even though she hadn’t. Apparently, it is the norm to do this in other industries.

My cousin felt uncomfortable doing this, as in pharmacy there is a code of ethics that we all feel like we should follow (well, most of us feel like we should follow the code of ethics). I told her that if she felt uncomfortable doing this, there is a good reason. Also, if the companies go back and verify her employment and find out that she lied, it will look worse on her. She agreed. She decided not to put experience on her CV that she didn’t have, and decided to reword her CV to get better traction on job opportunities in Europe.

That got me thinking, though. Is that what job seekers are resorting to nowadays? Are people lying on their CV, just to noticed by companies? I don’t know how the European market, and if they even check your work history, but here in the US, the companies do call and verify that what is stated on the CV is true.

I hope people will share their experiences, if they have lied on their CV and what consequences came of it; or if companies are not checking up as much I thought they did.

Heartfelt Thank You

So many people have reached out to me, or shared my story about life in pharmacy school. Words cannot describe how wonderful I feel. I really hope that my story inspired pharmacy students and new pharmacists, as well as those practicing for a while, to speak up about the trials and tribulations that they are going through. And if needed, seek help.

Mental health is still a strong social stigma in today’s society, especially in the healthcare field. We always have to do more, with less. It is very easy to get overwhelmed, and feel like you’re drowning. I didn’t get the help I needed while in pharmacy school, and it is tough for friends and family to fully understand what depression is like, unless they have gone through it themselves. But, just reaching out to someone will guide anyone who needs help to the person that CAN help them.

I am available to share more of my story, and give guidance if I can. Until then, I will keep encouraging everyone to share their stories with me.

Thank you again.

Pharmacy School After Depression

I recently got asked how I was motivated to finish pharmacy school after leaving because of my depression. I actually failed a couple classes, and the school decided that maybe I wasn’t the best fit there. I had left feeling so helpless, and definitely overwhelmed.

It took about 2 years to finally “beat” my depression, and no longer feel like a failure. I had met a lawyer through my NAMI (National Association of Mental Illness) support group, and he really fought hard for me to get back in. I had MANY stipulations added, which no other student had to go through. But, in the end, I got my Doctorate of Pharmacy, and Masters of Business Administration, and was able to give a mental F*** Y** to the pharmacy school administration that fought hard to keep me out.

So, what motivated me to finish school? I honestly do not remember. Part of the reason was my parents and not wanting to disappoint them anymore. They had already invested so much in me, and my education. Part of the reason is because since so many people spent a lot of time and energy helping me get through my depression and get back in, I might as well not waste their efforts by NOT finishing. Part of the reason is to prove to the pharmacy school that I CAN do this; that I AM a good fit at that school, that I CAN and WILL finish school. I guess there is really no ONE reason why I finished school after my depression.

However, the more I think about it, the more I keep asking myself WHY I went back in the first place. I didn’t have to go back to the environment that considered me a loser and failure. I could have chosen a different path, a different career, a different life. Why did I go back to pharmacy school? Was it because I was meant to be one? I AM a good pharmacist, and my current employer loves me and my skills. I have patients and colleagues that are grateful that I am able to utilize my skills and knowledge to deliver the best care possible. Throughout my career, I’ve encountered many settings and subspecialties, which makes me more relatable to newer pharmacists and students. I can impart my wisdom and knowledge from my experiences to help pharmacists that are now coming into the market. But, I wouldn’t have known all this back then, so why DID I go back?

The truth is, I simply do not know, or really, do not remember. I think it’s a combination of reasons,as explained above. Nevertheless, it doesn’t change the fact that I did finish, and walked on graduation day. I’m very proud of myself that I went back and got my degrees. NO ONE CAN TAKE THAT AWAY FROM ME.

However, it also made me think of why I got depressed in the first place. I was doing too much, even in pharmacy school. I kept spiraling out of control, until the feeling of being overwhelmed and helpless, and worthless just took over. Even after getting the necessary help, and unwavering support from friends and family, I still felt bouts of worthlessness. It made me think of what pharmacists are going through now. Many of them are overworked, doing too much, and feeling worthless. Many of them do not know how to get out of this spiral. And I know exactly how that feels.

I may not remember what motivated me during my pharmacy school days, but I know what motivates me now as a coach and mentor. I do not want ANYONE to hit rock bottom like I did. So, if I can help anyone, pharmacist or otherwise, before they feel so helpless, I absolutely will. All it took for me back then was to reach out and find the necessary people to get me through my tough times. I hope that those that can use my help and expertise will reach out to me.

Thank you, Facebook, for reminding me of that time in my life. The ceramic Spike the Bulldog is cute, right?