Throughout my experience traveling to fill temporary pharmacist positions, I have noticed that healthcare providers in these roles are often at a seemingly inherent disadvantage. Things are blamed on us, whether we are at fault or not. In fact, there sometimes seems to be a pervasive assumption that temporary pharmacists are clueless, or lazy, or both.
I picked up on this early in my career. Whenever I headed into a new temporary assignment, I was aware that the deck might be stacked against me. Fortunately, I have been in the role of the underdog many times over the course of my life and I was able to utilize some of the lessons I learned from those situations to overcome the odds and achieve success as a temporary pharmacist. The following are two qualities that stand out to me as being instrumental to my success. They are the final two essential qualities for temporary/traveling healthcare providers that I would like to explore. Read back to part one and two to learn about the other qualities we have discussed.
5. Willingness to Work Hard… Very Hard
I quickly learned that if I did only what was expected of me, I would not be considered a “good” pharmacist. I might even be considered sub-par. And though I realized that this was not exactly fair, I accepted the fact that’s it is the way things are.
In order to be seen as a standout pharmacist, and thus a sought-after one, I needed to consistently go above and beyond.
This made sense to me. If my goal was only to do exactly what is expected, no more and no less, and I forgot to do something (like checking the fridge temperatures, perhaps), then I might appear to be a below average performer.
Contrastingly, if I did a few extra things that were not expected of me, and still forgot to check the refrigerator temperatures, I would still most likely still be viewed favorably by those assessing my performance. If I did the extra work and remembered to check the temperatures? I just might be thought of as above-average.
The concept of striving to do more than what is required of me is a concept that has been ingrained in me for as long as I can remember. Hard work has proven to be the path to success repeatedly over the course of both my academic and professional careers. As a pharmacy intern, I learned what it meant to apply the values of hard work and going above and beyond to a career as a pharmacist. I had many great pharmacist role models that taught me how to go the extra mile for our patients, the hospital systems, and the companies we worked for.
I was sure to carry those lessons with me after graduation. I made it a point to always arrive early and stay late if necessary. I pushed myself to be as efficient as possible during the workday. I was always on the lookout for anything extra I could do for my patients, or to help the teams and companies I supported. Luckily, this was all relatively easy for me, because I genuinely enjoy being a pharmacist and all that comes along with it, both positive and negative.
However, my love for the profession of pharmacy wasn’t always enough to get me through some of my more challenging assignments, I needed something else; a positive attitude.
6. A Positive, “Can-Do” Attitude
Our attitude and general outlook affect so many different aspects of our lives, often more-so than we realize. In addition, these attitudes can be contagious. A temporary or traveling healthcare professional’s initial attitude towards an assignment can set the tone for how a day, a week, or even a whole month with a new team will go.\
Everyone knows that first impressions are crucial, and a person’s attitude is a major component of that.
It is important to start new assignments with a positive, “can-do” attitude. Generally, people working with and around you will follow your lead. I have often gotten feedback that teams seemed happier than usual and had more fun when working with me. As a traveling pharmacist, I sometimes found myself in challenging situations, usually related to being understaffed with lots of patients. I made sure to approach these situations with a positive attitude. Phrases like “we got this!” were a standard part of my vocabulary. I also made sure that whoever I was working with knew that I believed in their skills and that I was there to support the team.
Many times, I surprised myself with what the staff and I were able to accomplish. I am certain that my attitude played a significant role in those situations. I have also had days when my attitude was negative, and although the circumstances weren’t any more challenging, the outcomes were markedly worse on those days.
Maintaining a positive attitude is not always easy. It is definitely something I have to constantly remind myself to do. However, experience has shown me that the effort required to maintain that positive attitude is well worth it; it makes me a better pharmacist and person, and makes my work day significantly more enjoyable.