When I Knew Traditional Pharmacy Wasn't For Me


I am going to let you in on a little secret here…

I am slightly anxious to even type this, but here it goes: I always knew that the “traditional” pharmacy setting was not for me. There was no earth shattering moment that drew me to this conclusion. Just in my heart I knew that I would have to buckle down and do something different in order to create my highest level of satisfaction in my career.

It took me a while to accept this, but a lot of coaching (and a lot of wine!) eventually lead me to this conclusion.  

So… What exactly is Non-traditional Pharmacist?

For the majority of people, and even the majority of healthcare professionals, the role of the pharmacist is to work with prescribers and patients to ensure the right medication is safely delivered to each unique patient. Yes, I recognize this is a complete oversimplification of many of the nuances in pharmacy, but stick with me...

The overarching goal in this profession is ultimately to serve our patients, right? However, the question I have longed to answer is: does helping people with their medications have to be from behind the counter or within the walls of a hospital?

As evidenced by pharmacists practicing in industry, managed care, pharmacoeconomics, research, academia, etc the answer is 100% no! We already know this.

However, to this day, I really struggle finding the answer to what does non-traditional pharmacy specifically look like?

I polled thousands of pharmacists through social media to find out what nontraditional pharmacy meant to them.

And what guess what? No one could give me the same answer.

Now, getting a group of trained professionals to each give such unique answers told me one thing: nontraditional pharmacy can be anything and everything you want it to be.

This is the absolute beauty of our profession: you can create a role that’s totally your own.

Despite how vague that sounds, there is a recipe to nontraditional roles in healthcare

YOUR Education + YOUR Background + YOUR Skills = a nontraditional role.

BOOM… Problem solved!

Creating a nontraditional pharmacy role means you’ll be using transferable skills and combining your strengths to match your career goals.

From this research I’ve also gathered there is no special title or unique credential that will specifically land you a nontraditional pharmacist role. This is something YOU MUST CREATE and work at.

And this type of freedom is a really wonderful thing. But you will have to really think hard about the points I mentioned in my last blog and define what you want out of your career.

How I Got the Courage to Pursue a Nontraditional Pharmacy Role

If there’s one misunderstanding I come across time and time again, it’s people thinking that pursuing a nontraditional role means the traditional job wasn’t for you. And this couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Let’s get one thing straight: Pharmacy IS for the non- traditionalist.

Speaking for myself here, I love the profession and love how many people’s lives are directly and positively affected by traditional pharmacists. But, as we all know, the healthcare environment is an ever evolving beast.

Throw in some technological advances and the nature of our work has been totally altered. So, now we have the opportunity and freedom to create something totally unique.

For some people, like myself, seeing the shortcomings that exist in this field is painful. It actually makes me cringe every time I hear about it… Everything from strict metrics, drug shortages, cutting pharmacist and technician hours, politicians removing access of medications to the underserved populations, extremely tight drug budgets, and egos have all made this profession something that should diversify.

Ultimately, it’s not about courage that will allow you to create a nontraditional role in healthcare. Having clarity in what you want your career to look like will allow you to pursue healthcare roles that don’t strictly adhere to what your education laid out.

It wasn’t until I witnessed first hand people were doing my job without my education that I realized just how possible it is to pursue a nontraditional role. My mind was blown. I am not going to lie, at the time it hurt my ego a bit too, but here’s the thing….

Clinical consultants, medical education experts, clinical sales reps, clinical project managers, medical writers, software engineers, CEOs, entrepreneurs… all of these people were talking my language and did not have my credentials – yet they created something unique for themselves and were absolutely loving it (and they were really good at it!).

How You Can Make Your Own Nontraditional Career

Paying Tribute to Who Your Roots

One of the most common questions that anyone applying to medical, pharmacy, dental, nursing, or PA school is: why do you want to pursue this medical profession?

We may not all have one clear “ta-da” moment where it hit us. But we all have roots in this field that drove us to pursue more education and training.

Think long and hard about what your roots are, why you wanted to go into the healthcare industry, and how you can pay homage to your history with a career you love.

Take Stock of Who You Are

As you’ve moved through your professional life, you’ve expertly melded your education, your experiences, and your personality. Now it’s time to take stock of what kind of person that’s molded you into!

Understand what you love about your career, what you want to change, and what legacy you want to create. Every bit of insight you can gain will help you get the courage to take the next steps that are best for you – even if they aren’t what’s expected.

Make the Magic Happen: Creating Nontraditional Healthcare Roles

This is the step that looks different for everyone, and that’s exactly what you want. Remember those pharmacists I mentioned earlier and how no one had the same answer about what a nontraditional role was?

Ideally, each of them should be able to take their answer and create a perfect and unique role for themselves. They just need the right support system and getting a plan into action.

That’s why I’m excited to announce:

June’s Newsletter Giveaway

This month, anyone who signs up for the RX Ashlee Newsletter will be entered to win a free 45-minute career coaching session with me!