RPhCast, Episode Four: Finding Satisfaction In A Pharmacy Career


Kevin is joined by Dr. Thea Blystone, PharmD for a talk about finding fulfillment and satisfaction in the pharmacy world, plus how to find balance between serving others and having time for yourself.

Kevin Walker: Thea we missed you, we had really exciting and fun RPhAlly moment with the Soiree. And so that was amazing. You did incredible. There's so many wonderful speakers, I'm very thankful with that. And then putting everybody together in one space, I wouldn't say that it was a balance. It was really a cornucopia, you know, amazing thought leaders throughout all pharmacy talking in one kind of world that was really mind opening. And I'm thankful for a lot of the comments afterwards that folks had given me on, you know, what they enjoyed about it, the speakers and the things that they had never encountered before. So that was really cool. Any any takeaways, your thoughts?

Dr. Thea Blystone, PharmD: I think the biggest thought I had from it was get more active, we need to stand up and get an active in the community, get active in our organizations, get active with our schools, and just keep telling people what you're doing. Because a lot of the times patients don't even know what pharmacists are capable of let alone the legislation and the organization's down to the grassroots level. So if you're unhappy, I think starting with getting active and voicing out what's going on in your areas is a great place to start. And that's kind of the biggest piece I took from the Soiree. I mean, there was a lot of great information. Don't get me wrong, but that's the piece that kind of sunk into me.

KW: Yeah, I love that there is some some elements of like, owning being a star in your niche like that is something that I think is really important, and then wildly supporting each other, you know, regardless of what you're doing in healthcare, and pharmacy is just really advocating for each other and why pharmacists can make a difference is is a big piece. But that's one fun thing for us to talk about today is advocating for each other. And sometimes that does help with balance. Sometimes you don't have an advocate or you don't think you do, and you're able to reach out and find out kind of what's going on. And I know you've went through some of those things in the past. Tell us more about how you found some level of balance. I mean balances is an ever changing, ever evolving, you know, thought process walking that tightrope doesn't mean that you never cheat her, it just means you get better at it.

TB: Yeah, for sure. It's a it's a work in progress 100% of the time. And I would say you know, when I realized what was going to fill my cup up, I think that's when I was able to then balance life when I was working retail. And I know I don't remember if we talked about the last time we talked, but I had done just a week of independent retail recently and for a couple of different independence. And I realized that it hasn't changed. I've been out of retail like full time out of retail for about 10 years, and it hasn't changed. Like the metrics have changed, the people may have changed the customers not so much. They're still the same customers and all of those locations and which is great. And but I realized that the balance that I was missing before was because the piece of pharmacy what I was choosing to do was not filling my cup up. And when I figured out and when I stopped life realistically, I stopped life and said okay, what is it that's going to fill my cup up, because that's the piece that if I can fill my cup up of fulfillment for my career again, then I'll be able to balance everything else, whether that's the home front, whether that's, you know, building another household again, whether it's, you know, falling in love again, and all of the things that are capable and possible on the back end of being fulfilled. And then it comes from I know, Kevin, you and I are both godly and we love our God. And you know, with that, you know, I think that's fulfillment there as well. But when I found career fulfillment, I was then able to balance what I needed to do to fill that cup up with life with the things the priorities that were important to me that keep people unbalanced in their work and home. Life's a lot of it is mindset for sure. Because you're like, so burnout. We're so tired of all of the demands that happen to us every single day. And by the time you get home, you just want to sink into the couch and watch mindless television or YouTube clips. And it's like what are you doing that's gonna fill your cup up because once you find something that's gonna start filling your cup up, you that tend to prioritize your time differently. They insecurities about never being enough of a good pharmacist or enough of a good mom or enough of a good one. A for husbands, and what that really feels like, once you're starting to fill the cup up, it changes the dynamics quickly.

KW: Yeah, I love that you bring up the complexity, the just not trying to paint us with one color or brush, you know, as an individual, because I think happens way too often, even the way we look at each other as colleagues, and even the word colleague, right, instead of looking at fee as going, oh, yeah, she is the leader of remote care services, I work with her and RPh ally, we talk about business things like thinking about Thea as, as a mom, as a sister in Christ is someone that is, you know, living in rural America, just like me and doing things and trying to make things better for our community. Like that adds a level and a layer of respect and thoughtfulness about other human beings, that we tend to strip back, we too often, you know, we just, we label people as just a means to an end, rather than the complex, beautiful human beings that we are. And so I love that you highlight that right off the bat.

TB: Yeah, and I think that when you start looking at those descriptions, you described Kevin, you realize that you have a network of people that love you, and care for you and want the best for you. And even if I don't talk to you, and you're in one of the 1000s of people on my LinkedIn or in my facebook or on my email list, it's still that I would talk to you at any point, I would, I would encourage you, I would support you, I will like that is all the stuff that I'm doing on LinkedIn every day, and then Facebook and sharing what I'm doing, because it is so easy to feel isolated in the world of pharmacy today. Because you go in and punch the clock, and you come home and you're exhausted. And so you repeat that process in the morning, all over again. And so like don't forget that you have allies and RPhAlly? Oh, geez, I didn't even mean to do that. But you know, the connection that you have around you the network that you have around you from, you know, the folks that you went to pharmacy school with, we're all in the same boat, like pharmacy is not pleasant right now in a lot of different areas. And so, like, don't hesitate to reach out to your colleagues, those people that you roomed with, or those people that were in the sorority or fraternity with you or in the organizations like that we are all part of today. RPhAlly is a great one, I just might add that no one there. But you know, that's all pharmacists on there. And we would support anybody you post something in the in the face in the RV HLF feed, we are jumping in there, we are caring, we are here to make pharmacy better. And when you can feel fulfilled by a network of people that are doing great things, but want to bring you along doesn't have to video because to me that fills up My Cup a little at least.

KW: Yeah, I think it's interesting, because we think of balance. And we've got to balance ourselves. And I think that's it's interestingly myopic, right? That we're always so self focused that oftentimes the balance comes from other human beings around us and allowing them to be around us and help us right along the way. There's something to be said about our loneliness and society and our lack of kind of emphasis on fellowship. And I think you just illustrated a number of those things, why they're so important for personal growth, for balance for us being able to touch on multiple aspects of our lives, and overall improve those and I love the highlight RPh ally, because there's, I mean, we had one presentation and the I can't remember if you're there when he gave him Eric Steck talked about things that were going on in his life and his personal life and brought many people to tears during the soiree of just how open and caring and kind of human being he is, and just very inspiring. And I think that's just it's another special element that it doesn't always have to be about therapeutics, and you know, the next wave of drug development or the next CPT code, like sometimes it is literally about being human beings and struggling in very similar ways, and connecting with each other to be able to, you know, hold the handle necessary.

TB: Yeah, and I think that's really what, on my own story, what has really lifted me up, you know, being homeless in 2015, with two kids and three bags of clothes, like, that literally was my story. And had I not found a network of people to help build me up. I wouldn't be where I am today. And a lot of it is through Christ, a lot of it is through a loving husband today. A lot of it is through pharmacy colleagues that have stuck by me this whole time and keep pushing me and keep getting me in to the next thing that I need to do in my life. And so that network keeps driving you to and then I think they did help pick me up and continue my story. And that's what I hope to share with others is that we all go through life life is part whether good or bad. It happens to us all like we are in the same boat and sharing that with folks of okay, so I built a company while I was working full time, and I raised two babies and two giant German Sheppard's In the meantime, you know, I can't do that alone, I haven't been able to do that alone, I took it took mentors, it took a lot of blood, sweat and tears and a lot of evening hours. And but five years later, I have a business that's thriving and moving forward daily. And that's what I want to share with people is life is hard. And if you can't find something that fills up your cup, where people to help fill up your cup, when you can't see maybe what's in front of you, because we are short sighted, when it comes to ourselves, and what may be the value we offer to the world, ask some of your patients what value you add to their life, you'd be surprised what they pick up on. Like, they really have so many stories on how each and every pharmacist across the country has helped them in their local communities. Remember those people because you are making a difference. And if that doesn't fill up your cup, and the support of your loving colleagues and friends and family. I'm not sure you pick the right thing. But I hope you do. And you stay and get around some of us here at RPh ally and even, you know, the mentors that are out there today from business entrepreneurs to pharmacist entrepreneurs, and the whole gamut is out there to support you to make a better way to fill up your cup that maybe just dispensing or maybe just the hospital job you have or or any pharmacy job that's out there that isn't filling up your cup today. Right?

TB: Yeah, I think there's a lot to unpack with that, Thea. So the first question I'll ask you related to it is, let's say you're just starting out in your career. And I think you almost had a career restart, which is really exciting, right? So you're in your career and the level of satisfaction that you're encountering is is low or it's it's dwindling to a certain extent. When it comes to filling up that cup and finding satisfaction, some people don't have the opportunity or don't feel like they have the opportunity to be different, right? They're trying to pay the bills or trying to take care of the family. They're they feel stuck right in their their current situation.

KW: What advice do you have for those folks that are just starting in their career? I think Tim, during this worry kind of illustrated this, he said something along the lines of we have to have a level of financial security to take risks. And sometimes that is a limiting factor for a lot of folks, what's your advice, their fee on the balance and satisfaction component,

TB: I think when it comes to the finances, and trying to figure out how to balance these student loans and what you need to do, and when you find that maybe retail dispensing isn't what you thought it was going to be when we were in school, and you come out and that's the job you have available to you, you take it because you need to pay those bills. But when you realize that it's not filling up your cup, you need to start looking at the personal development, the self development of what is going to fill up your cup, what part of pharmacy was in school or in your rotations or in your fellowship or residency program that really did fill your cup up, look back on what you already have done. And even though you're only a few short years out of school, doesn't mean that you haven't seen it or felt it. And look at what that could be for you today. And maybe, maybe it's not the same exact thing because like for me, it was remote NTm I love doing it five years ago, or 10 years ago. And I was like, but I hated the at some aspects of it. So then I'm like, okay, but I did like this aspect of it. So if I liked the patient engagement without dispensing model, then how else could I look at doing patient engagements? Well, that's where I hit a Google search and started looking for patient care opportunities that were outside of the board of pharmacies realm of what they're saying I can and can't do around dispensing. It's not dispensing. It's caring for patients, and I care and just diluted to anybody. But I hear. And, you know, I think that when you look back at what you do, like about the experiences that you have had, if you do some digging on what it comes down to me it was patient engagement, I wanted to care for patients better and on a monthly basis. So that's where I am today.

KW: Wow. Yeah, I think there's it's an interesting feeling like I sometimes your cup, like filling it up, like you literally want to get out of the cup to fill it up. Right. And so you just mentioned something right there that you felt a level of dissatisfaction that you couldn't do something you knew that you were more than capable of doing, right? I mean, it's almost like stymieing Your greatness, like you've got something a gift that you want to be able to give and when you can't do it, it's difficult. I think, you know, to highlight a few like pharmacy organizations and things that are out that are kind of pushing some edges. CpSm is doing some wonderful things inside of the community pharmacy setting to be able to say, hey, here's here's some guarantees kind of related to what these pharmacies will be capable of doing within this individual network. I think there are a lot of innovative Obviously, owners that are out there and professionals that are outside of an individual brick and mortar pharmacy system that are leveraging CPAs and clinical affiliations or working in ambulatory care setting. So, you know, he and I are both obviously big fans of everything in the RTM kind of realm. And chronic care management for that being said, but there are other avenues for you to be able to flex that muscle and be able to give you know the way that you want to. And so I think that's a beautiful highlight overall Thea. So when it comes to balance today, since we're running up on time for our show, balance today, you and I just talked about before we jumped on, sometimes, sometimes there's too much good. I'll be honest, that's probably what I struggle with the most, right is I tried to I try to be a good steward of the responsibility that I've been given in the pharmacy community and try to uplift other pharmacists, I don't have a ton of time to be able to connect with them all like I want to. And then there's sometimes frustrations that large associations maybe don't do the same things with some of the elements that they have at play. But I get a lot of time with a lot of people that I feel like man, I how do I balance all of the good coming my way. And you're just talking about all the good with tenco? And some of the things you're doing with your hospital, some of the other consulting things you're doing the courses you're creating? How do you balance the good when you start making that pivot and going I really love these things, and then going oh, no, but I only have x number of hours in the day.

TB: Yeah, I think it's learning to say not right now. I have this great idea. But I need to put it on hold. Kevin, how long have I been building the course? Tell them? Probably since I met you like literally like it's been a long time.
Before I was even with RPh ally, right? I think you and I were talking about this for about a year and a half now maybe two years, actually, of you getting this.
So fast forward? I'm still about there. Like I'm not quite there yet. Like I'm getting there day by day political sir. But it's the things of balance that I have decided what's most important to me. And instead of saying no, I say I'm gonna put that on the to do list for the next quarter and see how much I get done. Just moving out some of the ideas because I've changed what I wanted to do as well. In that time, like, I've learned that if I just put it on hold a minute, maybe it'll get better, maybe I'll see that I don't need it or want it anymore and or need to share it because other folks are doing it or it has changed so much. It's not worth it. But saying, Hold on a minute, has been my saving grace with my husband and growing babies, you know, like really trying to raise them up and and be a good mom and be that steward for them. I've had to say hold on one second, because I was working a full time job plus building a business. And that has made me say, okay, maybe I just need to hold one minute on that. And if it still is in my heart after I sleep on it. And after a few quarters go by, I'm still working on it. And it's a work in progress. And I think giving ourselves the grace to say, Okay, this is a full play. But I love this idea. Can we hold on it and see if it comes to fruition in the next quarter? That's been my easiest thing. And I tell Kevin all the time, I'm like, Okay, you just need to say no. And it's it's so hard to do. And I know that it's hard to do. So instead of No, I say no, right this minute, I'll think on it. I look forward to the next quarter. Because I'm doing quarterly planning as to what's on my docket for the to do list and really seeing what I'm doing is moving the needle, if it is moving the needle, then I keep moving forward. And it may take me two years, but it's coming.

KW: We hear things all the time feel like you know taking a bite out of the elephant, right? Or just doing little things every day, you know, making it a habit like habit forming components, or what is it atomic habits is? Some of those things, I think that's a really good example they have, of course creation, are you trying to do something else on the side? Are you trying to help out with one thing versus another like sometimes you don't have the bandwidth to do a ton. But if you can prioritize something in the day to be able to block out a 15 minute or a 30 minute chunk that you go, I'm going to dedicate a very small concentrated amount of time to this. That's how you can really start moving things along in a very interesting progressive way with that concentrated and focused short blips of time and so I think when you're looking to balance things, and be able to offer like all of your skills and different ways, you have to find those opportunities to just not sneak away time, but dedicate very small portions of time on a consistent basis that can be Very helpful for so many people. Do you have any other takeaways for this career balance and satisfaction episode?

TB: I think making sure that you make your schedule your priority and saying no I'm done for the day when you're done for the day is another big one for the family life like for my family, I have to be done by 430. Because softball hockey and a husband await me. So off we go. And I have to stop that. And so for me making sure that I'm the leader of my schedule, and not allowing others to dictate that has has made a big difference to so for the homelife, especially, but getting the stuff done and everyone's happy. So it's a it's a great day and know that everyone on RPh ally would be more than happy to help anyone trying to fill up their cup or find a piece of pharmacy that can fill up their cup again, we are all here to help in in rural pharmacy as a profession forward and get those organizations helping us along the way and legislation that does the same. So get active and know that we're in your corner.

KW: Awesome. No, I love that so much. I think the one piece that I remember encouraging my dear friend very early in our relationship was to own her greatness like that is something that if you're an expert in any given field, if you're good, not not good, but great at something, just own it, right, own it in even the smallest of ways on a continual basis and see where it leads. Yeah. And I think that can be a really neat thing to going from moderately satisfied to really enjoying what you're doing and what you're offering. So thank you so much for a wonderful episode today, everybody. Thanks so much for watching. If you have any questions, shoot them over our way. Join RPh ally if you want to check out a really cool group of pharmacists getting together and talking about some incredible things happening in that world. We do have recordings for the RPh ally Soiree. So grab those and and check them out. Have a good rest of the day, everybody.

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