How My Dad Inspired Me to Make Pharmacy Unique
Warning: this blog post may require a box of tissues. Side effects may include inspiration, courage to launch a fabulous new career, and a spontaneous call to your loved ones.
Don't say I did not warn you.
I was right smack in the middle of pharmacy school when my dad suddenly got sick. Not like flu sick – all of a sudden, he was really sick. He went from going to work and being a boss to needing serious 1:1 care.
We were walking the exhibits at the American Pharmacist Association meeting (APhA) when I first realized my dad is very sick. We flew back home from Seattle and, eight weeks later, he was gone.
Using a Legacy to Make a Career Change
Since my family experienced that tragic loss, and since it happened at such a pivotal time in my career, something has shifted. I graduated. I got married. I did the residency, and I got the extra Masters degree. I had a beautiful daughter. And my career ended up taking a path that took a page right out of my dad’s book.
Creating a nontraditional pharmacy role is not only a tribute to his legacy and to making pharmacy a great profession, but also for being the best damn dad he could be. It’s THAT level of inspiration that I want each and every one of my clients and readers to adopt if they want to create an impactful career.
Using a legacy to make a career change can be the push you need to launch from something good to something incredible.
A Tribute to Buzzy
My dad wasn’t just your typical pharmacist in the 70’s and 80’s. He took on so many different roles that few people even realize are filled by pharmacists.
During his lifetime, he went from being an independent pharmacy owner, to selling his brick and mortar locations to be a stay at home dad for a decade.
After that, he seamlessly transitioned to his next role of being an HIV/AIDS expert, to running a 340B HIV/AIDS speciality pharmacy (way before “speciality pharmacy” was even a thing!), and then to his final role as Chief Pharmacy Officer at an Academic Medical Center.
But, long before all of those incredible leaps, he taught me the most important lesson of all: BE BOLD.
For the first ten years of my life, my dad was a stay at home dad. Seriously, talk about being bold in the 1980’s! WHO DOES THAT? I did not know any different at the time, but looking back now that is pretty incredible.
Growing up, there was always an understanding that hard work and carving out your own niche were the keys to creating a legacy you’d be proud of because of his work.
And, in a family of traditional pharmacist, the road my dad and I took wasn’t the norm.
Being inspired to be different in a family of pharmacists
My previous blog was all about being bold. It’s about how you can take a leap of faith from the role you’ve become comfortable with and the career you really want.
I don’t think I am “different” then any other pharmacists in my family or any other pharmacists in the country for that matter.
So what’s the difference? Why do people choose me as their career coach and mentor? I understand that, in today’s healthcare market, each of us needs to recognize the changes in the profession:
As compared to the 1980’s, there is not much of a “shortage” of pharmacists anymore.
The level of unhappiness in the workforce is at an all-time high. Moreover, suicide, depression, and mental illness in medical professionals is at the highest it’s ever been. The National Academy of Medicine recently published a study that shows 1 out of every 2 physicians are burned out and on average 400 physicians commit suicide EACH YEAR. That is more than twice the national average of any other profession.
Now, you may be thinking: 1) I can still get a job anywhere and 2) I’m not feeling depressed so there isn’t an issue!
But we all have to reflect on why we selected the path and career that we did and take the time to figure out if this is really the perfect role for us.
Okay, I will finally admit it: one of the main reasons I went into pharmacy was because of my family. My dad was a pharmacist, my grandfather owned independent pharmacies in downtown Los Angeles, and my mom managed the pharmacies. Both my dad and my grandfather were graduates of the USC School of Pharmacy (Fight On!!). So, uhhh, it’s safe to say pharmacy was a frequent theme in our household!
Knowing this, I realized I had a choice to make: Do I stay in the profession or do I bail?
A lot of people honestly questioned my intent to pursue pharmacy. Some probably still do.
But here is the fact: I am here today because I am CHOOSING to stay.
I believe in this profession, maybe because it is in my DNA, but maybe because I legitimately believe we have significant value to healthcare – especially when we take our role out of its traditional list of responsibilities.
Defining a Non-Traditional Pharmacy Career
If you want to know my secret formula to creating a nontraditional role in medicine and healthcare (and pretty much any field), it’s this:
Step 1: Pay Tribute to Your Roots
Take your work history, your education, your life experiences, and really understand how these all come together to form who you are professionally.
Step 2: Take Stock of Who You Are
Combine that knowledge with your unique skills, your passions, and your values! Answer this tough question: what work do you absolutely love to do?
Step 3: Make Magic Happen
When you really boil down the essence of who you are, what you can do, and why you want to do it...you’ve created a nontraditional role for yourself.
Getting to take the step between a regular career and something totally unique to you is all about adding different flavors and layers to your career.
It’s about knowing your brand. It’s about knowing what makes you unique to the company or to the business. It’s about paying tribute to your past. It’s about motivating yourself to take the leap.
It Can’t Be All About Them
There’s been a huge misunderstanding that has yet to be cleared up, but it’s life changing once you really understand the reality of your potential.
It starts with our education. This is what we are taught:
1 + 1 MUST equal 2.
Okay, maybe mathematically that’s correct… but what about all the other numbers and ways you could get to “2” with?
A non-traditionalist needs to think that 5 - 3 also equals 2 and that there are almost endless possibilities when it comes to combining your skills, your background, and your passions into a dream career.
Whether you come from a family legacy that you’d love to uphold with a twist or if you just want to create a legacy that your family and community can cherish, it has to start with you.
I was inspired to become a pharmacist because of my family – but I stayed because of me. I made something different happen because that was what made me the happiest.
It’s all about your mindset and challenging yourself to face the unknown.
So what can you do to create a totally unique legacy?
Let’s talk about that!
And, while you’re on this legacy creating kick, make sure you subscribe to my newsletter for updates, new content, and some #protips you need to know!