Friday, April 20, 2018

Top 3 Doubts Preventing You From Becoming a Hospital Pharmacist

Change is hard.

Contemplation is the first step towards making any change in your career path, but it can be easy to talk yourself out of it.

Venturing into the unknown world of hospital pharmacy can seem daunting, so why make the transition? Maybe it’s because you feel like you’re not being challenged enough in your current role or maybe you feel like you’re not making enough of an impact on your patients. Maybe you just feel that it’s time for a change.

Whatever your reasons, you’ve probably at one point or another, doubted your ability to succeed in an institutional environment. 

In this blog, we’ll explore the 3 top reasons that you may have convinced yourself a hospital isn’t for you and why you shouldn’t allow them to stand in your way.

1) I need a residency to work in a hospital

A hospital pharmacy residency is a 12-month, rotation-based learning experience intended to prepare pharmacists for institutional practice. Many pharmacists are under the impression that they can’t get a position in a hospital without a hospital residency.

This is not true.

A hospital residency can be a valuable way to gain specialized knowledge and clinical experience, while building confidence, and it can definitely give your resume an edge. Teaching hospitals in particular, often put weight on whether a candidate possesses this qualification.

But it is not a requirement to be a hospital pharmacist. Not yet.

The 2013/2014 Hospital Pharmacy in Canada Report showed that only 20% of pharmacists working in hospitals across Canada have completed a hospital pharmacy residency. Although the Canadian Society of Hospital Pharmacy’s (CSHP) goal is to ultimately make that 100%, at this time, the fact remains: there are not enough residency positions to meet the needs of hospitals in Canada. Consequently, making residency a requirement for hospital positions is not a reality of the immediate future. Currently, about 80% of pharmacists hired in hospitals within Canada do not have a hospital residency.

More importantly, a good employer will not only value your credentials but also your experience, your ability to adapt to a new and challenging environment, your desire to advance the practice and your fit within the team.

2) I don’t have enough clinical background to work in a hospital

Remember, you are a pharmacist. You already have the foundational knowledge and skill set required to make a sound clinical judgment and provide optimal patient care. The basics are the same in any pharmacy practice setting.

Regardless of where you practice, whether community or hospital, pharmacy is an ever-evolving area of health care and staying abreast on new and upcoming treatments or guidelines is always best practice. Unless you are transitioning into a highly specialized field, you likely already have most of the knowledge you need for an institutional position. Think about your current role - much of what you need to know, you probably learned first-hand on the job.

"You already have the foundational knowledge and skill set required to make a sound clinical judgment and provide optimal patient care."

That’s not to say that there won’t be a learning curve. Depending on the site and the unit, training can often range from several weeks to several months. This will not only serve as an orientation to the operational and clinical services of your site, but it also begins the process of integrating your prior knowledge into the provision of pharmaceutical care for a new patient population.

If you still feel unprepared, keep in mind that most hospitals, and especially teaching hospitals, foster an environment where learning is encouraged. Members of your healthcare team are accustomed to the myriad of students, residents and fellows of different disciplines on your unit, at any given time, and will keep education a priority. In addition to peer support, most hospitals have a multitude of educational opportunities and online resources at your disposal to support personal development and enhance your knowledge.

3) I will be undervalued by other healthcare professionals on the team

This thought has probably crossed the mind of every pharmacist at one point or another.

Historically, pharmacists have been dubbed as the “unseen” members of healthcare teams. Working behind the scenes, the impact of the pharmacists’ role is not always clearly visible to patients or even other healthcare professionals. Studies have shown that pharmacists’ perception of their value among other health care professionals is often negative.

"Pharmacists are an integral part of interdisciplinary teams."

But pharmacists are an integral part of interdisciplinary teams. Numerous studies have shown the impact pharmacists can have on patient outcomes in a variety of settings. And despite the belief of how they are perceived by their colleagues, pharmacists in the hospital setting are recognized by other health care professionals as a valued member of the team.
The traditional hierarchy of hospital teams and the notion that “physician knows best” have long been replaced with patient-centered models that focus on collaboration between all equal members of the healthcare team to achieve patient-specific goals.

As with any new position, there will always be a certain amount of “proving yourself” involved. But this is an opportunity to show your team what you’re really capable of and ensure they utilize the full scope of their pharmacist in a collaborative environment. 

It may seem like an impossible task to start a new path in hospital pharmacy, but don’t allow your doubts to dissuade you. With persistence and dedication, you can make the shift.

Hospital Pharmacy in Canada 2013/2014 Report. Hospital Pharmacy in Canada Editorial Board. 2015