Grateful for My … Failures?

Over my 10 year pharmacy career (thank you Facebook for the lovely reminder), I have had a lot of failures. Anyone who has seen my LinkedIn profile knows I have held A LOT of positions over the last 10 years (coming up on 2 years in my latest position). I knew I wasn’t the right fit in those positions, yet I kept trying …. and kept failing.

In my spiritual center, we are taught to be grateful, even for our mistakes and failures. And even though I had thought that each nonlasting position was a failure, I realized that each position was just a stepping stone to further my career. I have learned so many skills at each position, as well as made lifelong friends (as well as enemies) along the way. Many of them have helped get to the next position.

Walgreens taught me how grueling retail pharmacy can be. It gave me a better understanding about how insurances and PBMs (pharmacy benefit managers) work, how to deal with irate patients and frustrated coworkers. I learned conflict resolution at Walgreens; and no, I DON’T give gift cards. Through my mistakes made at Walgreens, I learned that accuracy is WAY more important than speed, to check ALL DUR (drug utilization review) and drug-drug interactions, and how to look up information for the vast amount of dietary supplements out there (“how could it be harmful to me? it’s natural!” Yes, but so it is poison ivy)

My time in West Texas taught me how much I hate sand storms! But that was my first real hospital experience. I learned how to handle NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) orders, CCU (cardiac care unit) and ICU (intensive care unit) orders, how to look at antibiotics and be a part of the stewardship, how to interpret labs and which are clinically significant vs statistically significant, and the flow of hospital pharmacy. I had a clinical coordinator that treated me more like a student than a licensed pharmacist, but even though I hated her at the time, right now I am truly grateful.  I gave presentations in front of other pharmacists, which I hated at the time. It gave me the confidence to speak in front of small crowds and other healthcare professionals. I also learned how to look up different information for physicians, and how to present case studies.

My time in Sherman (North Texas) taught me that racism and discrimination is alive and well. Although most of the pharmacy was happy that I was there, there were a few that didn’t like that I was the only non-white and non-Christian person in the entire pharmacy department. I was able to enhance my clinical skills with the antibiotic dosing, and I got my first taste of oncology pharmacy. Even though my time there was miserable because of the blatant discrimination I experienced there, I did have the greatest pleasure of meeting my close friend and mentor, JS. She is the one who got me the position that I hold currently.

My time at CMC has definitely opened my eyes to a new field of pharmacy. I had never worked in the ICU full time before, let alone dealing with children in the ICU. Most people found find this extremely scary, and I was also extremely scared when I first started. Pediatric pharmacy was incredibly different from what I was used to practicing. But, I learned how to be calm during a code situation, which has helped me calm during high stress environments. I can work more comfortably with pediatric patients, especially in my current position. I realized that no matter how much I did, or how many extra shifts I took, it will never be enough to satisfy my coworkers. In that case, I just realized that I need to do what’s best for ME and my body, which was to leave. It broke my heart to do so, as I thoroughly enjoyed working there.

Currently I work as a coverage pharmacist for an oncology group. I travel all over the state. I have learned different management styles, different ways of doing the same thing (which can be extremely difficult to remember as a coverage pharmacist), how to deal with different personalities, and of course, the world of oncology. There are so many components to oncology pharmacy; and we hit on almost every other medical specialties as well. Yes, it does suck to be away from home, and I feel like I miss out on having a social life (which is very important when you’re single like me), but I have met so many fantastic people in many areas of the state. I also got to see different parks, attractions, cities, etc that most people in Texas have not experienced. I love what I do.

I would have called those previous positions failures in my life, mainly because I couldn’t keep the positions long enough. However, looking back, I am so grateful for those opportunities, as I would not have been the amazing pharmacist that I am today. Sometimes you just have to look back and say, THANK YOU.

So, my challenge for you is to find 5 things that you are grateful for in your current position. If you do not have a position, find 3 things that you are grateful for because you don’t have a current position. And … GO!

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