How to make an impact

How can you influence the future of pharmacy while being a student or early career pharmacist?

How can you influence the future of pharmacy while being a student or early career pharmacist?

How can you, as a young professional, or a student influence policy and strategy? This is a question I see come up a lot, from a growing number of frustrated individuals and one in which I will answer in this article.

  1. Read a lot

  2. Attend events

  3. Network

  4. Maintain professionalism

  5. Be authentic

Read a lot

The idea is simple. You can’t talk about ideas if all your evidence is from sketchy Telegram polls and questionable journalistic articles. Make sure you read from the primary source:

Most of these documents have an easy to read version, and simple executive summaries which explain the spirit of its contents, but there is no shortcut for detail besides reading it yourself. Other organisations may summarise the contents, but remember they will intertwine their view alongside it which can prevent an informed opinion. There have been many cases where the original facts have been misrepresented, and then this misrepresentation has gone viral. Many times people make up facts when there are little to none available!

Also, notice how none of those mentioned above are tabloid journalisty sources…

Attend Events

If you want to meet the movers and shakers of pharmacy and learn of the latest developments, you need to go outside of your comfort zone and attend the professional events. Events I’d recommend to attend:

The BPSA conference may be the most shocking on the list; however it is at this conference I’ve found the greatest discussions of ideas among attendees happen. Motions are laid, they are discussed, then voted on.

Furthermore, attending events and asking good questions is how you distinguish yourself, it could make the difference between getting that coveted job or not. To ask the good questions, you need to read. Read up about the speakers, their research, the companies which are presenting etc. What are they going to be speaking about? Why is this topic important and how does this relate to the theme. You’ll then start to build a picture of the interconnectedness of things enabling you to ask out of the box questions.

Network

Many people find this daunting…the fact you have to actually speak to people. If only everything in the world could be done without communicating…

Networking is the process of meeting people, professionally. It’s a fancy word for professional socialising, usually at events. Imagine you’re going to the pub with your friends. The conversation may be far from professional, but many things which are discussed, like holidays, politics, upcoming ideas etc. are still acceptable in a professional networking setting. Networking happens at all events and it is actually accepted practice to simply walk into a conversation and simply stand there with a glass of something (doesn’t have to be alcoholic) in your hand and listen. The best part however if you’ve followed step 1 is you can actually contribute to the professional discussion on ideas and what is currently happening as you understand the facts. When you contribute this idea, people will respect you for this as you’ve shown proactiveness and driven forward the conversation. Yes, people may retort with some comment, but rest assured the fact someone so young came up with a very valid, factual point will not go amiss. Do this in enough conversations and you’ll start to become recognised. The trick is, you have to make it come across natural and not as though you’ve been holding this cracking one liner for this exact conversation.

Networking can be done in many ways, but for the best results should be done in combination.

  1. Social media (GPhC guidance on Demonstrating professionalism online)

  2. By attending events

  3. Arranging coffees with key interested individuals

Maintain professionalism

At this point, I feel obligated to link you the GPhC’s current guidance demonstrating professionalism online and their Standards for pharmacy professionals. This is important, especially for social media, where the temptation is to respond vigorously and aggressively within a public forum. This’ll actually do far more damage than you realise. If an argument is getting heated and you feel unable to respond as you would to someone’s face, then don’t post it. How would you feel if another fellow professional, or a patient saw what you posted?

Also, when it comes to face to face networking and professionalism, ensure you don’t drink alcohol more than you can handle. Many professional events have free wine available. Although many students could easily down 4 tequila shots in a row, I somehow doubt your tolerance for wine is as refined yet. Start low, go slow. Sip the wine, don’t shot it.

If you don’t drink, then the above comments regarding alcohol need not apply.

Be authentic

This one is tricky to write about as it’s obvious. Be yourself and talk through your values. Most of the current world seems to thrive from in-authenticity (Instagram?) and very little is actually meaningful. To be meaningful, means to be honest, and to be honest means to be real. Here’s an article which explains this point in further detail.

Do or do not do

Star Wars VI

Lastly, do not be scared to get involved. If you have an idea, find a few others who share your vision and make it happen. If you’re a student, that could also mean running for a BPSA Executive role. If you’re qualified, perhaps for a position on the RPS National Boards.

Thank you for reading, let me know your thoughts on this, and what else you’d like to see in the future. All views presented are the blogger and not representative of the employer.

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