Seasoned hospital pharmacist seeks qualified manager, serious applicants only


If you don't know what you want in a manager, you're far more likely to end up unsatisfied. Better give it some thought.

Kelly HowardLast month, I discussed the idea of treating your relationship with your manager as just that – a relationship. As pharmacy professionals, we should know exactly what qualities we seek or avoid in our managers, just as we do in our personal relationships.

See also: Should I stay or should I go? Navigating poor pharmacy management

Making a list

I’ve found this helpful for several reasons. For one thing, if you happen to find yourself in the increasingly rare situation of choosing between several jobs, the pros and cons concerning your direct manager should definitely weigh into that decision.

It is more likely that the need to assess your manager will arise when you confront the decision of whether to stay at your current job or seek employment elsewhere.

Unfortunately, I have also taken a critical look at a manager when I’ve been stuck, at least temporarily, in a job and I needed some reassurance that maybe things weren’t actually so bad.

Even if you happen to be perfectly content working for your ideal manager, a reassessment of your relationship can only help to make it stronger.

See also: The crisis in pharmacy management

Decision paralysis

Anyone who has ever stood in front of a vending machine, paralyzed by choice, knows that determining what we actually want is usually far more difficult than excluding what we don’t want.

I can tell you that there are really only two managerial traits that will make me start updating my resume: inherent laziness and failure to prioritize patient care.

Pinpointing the traits I seek out in a manager has always been a more challenging task for me, partly because when it comes to pharmacy managers, there is often a vast difference between what I want and what is actually available in the current job market. However, if I eliminate the attainability factor and assume that pink unicorns really do exist, the task becomes far easier.


My ideal manager

First and foremost, I want a manager who wants to be a manager. This is not as self-evident as it may sound. Many staff pharmacists are pushed into management positions they never wanted. In fact, the two worst managers I ever worked with informed me in my job interview that they never really wanted to be managers, but after their own terrible managers had left, they didn’t want to have to work for someone worse, so they hesitantly accepted the position themselves.

While I appreciate the irony here, rarely can people be successful at something they just don’t want to do. I don’t want a grudging manager, an accidental manager, or even a right-place-at-the-right-time manager. I want a manager who has rightfully earned and wholeheartedly desires the title of manager.

Second, I want a manager who treats me with the respect that I earn, one who works diligently to ensure that I am compensated fairly.

I want a manager who understands that each employee needs to be managed differently and that one-size-fits-all is never an appropriate management technique to use with pharmacists.

I don’t need a manager who is smarter than I am or who can put in more hours than I do, but I do need a manager who is more emotionally invested than I am. To distill it further, what I need is a manager who loves the practice of pharmacy, respects pharmacy law, and understands that the provision of patient care is paramount to anything and everything else.

Reality check

I suspect that as a new graduate, I had a much longer list when it came to the qualities I required of an ideal manager. Ten years of enduring poor or nonexistent management has left me with lower but perhaps more realistic expectations.

When it comes to horrifying scenarios starring well-intentioned pharmacy managers, I have just as many war stories as the next pharmacist, and conversely, I can tell just as few stories as you can if the subject is excellent management that has elevated a pharmacy team and advanced patient care.

Nonetheless, what we don’t look for, we’re less likely to find. No matter how arduous the struggle may seem, consistently seeking the admirable manager will encourage us as individual pharmacists to collectively push the profession of pharmacy forward. 

Kelly Howard is a freelance pharmacist living and working in Southeastern N.C. She welcomes stories of your own most unforgettable managers at or at www.thefreelancepharmacist.comFollow her on Twitter @PharmacistKelly.

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