Career Laddering

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All people have basic needs for which they seek remedy. These range from basic security needs, to being loved by others, their own self-esteem, and self-actualization. New pharmacy graduates upon entering the job market start with a very nice salary and might be a pharmacist-in-charge or some sort of manager within months of their initial employment. Still, they seek to develop, mature, learn new things, accomplish things for which they are proud, and hopefully move into higher and more challenging positions throughout their career. Pharmacy technicians likewise are people, too. They have hopes and aspirations. All too often, pharmacy organizations fail to recognize this, and the technician can leave for a better paying job elsewhere completely out of the pharmacy field. A career laddering mechanism establishes certain conditions and criteria (eg, length of time/experience, education/certification, some performance metric(s)) that allow employees to move into different ranks/titles, responsibilities, and levels of earnings.

Heavner et al described the implementation of a pharmacist career ladder program (PLCP) at a tertiary medical care center.1 The PLCP was created to guide career development, motivate staff, and recognize high performers, describing excellence in 5 categories: training and experience, pharmacy practice, drug information, education and scholarship, and leadership, with titles ranging from ‘clinical pharmacist’ to ‘clinical pharmacy specialist II’. The medical center has seen increasing success rates for advancement following its implementation. At around the same time, the California Society of Health Systems Pharmacists (CSHP) published a position paper recognizing the need for a state-level career laddering mechanism to move at least as far as only some employers had already done.2 It enumerated a comprehensive list of qualifications, position summaries, compensation levels, and job duties for “Technician I”, “Technician II”, and “Technician III” designations in light of existing turnover among technicians and in the need to recognize them for their increasingly stressful work.

Pharmacy managers can foster employee commitment and performance by implementing a career laddering system that will among other things provide a visible pathway for employees to envision themselves growing and maturing alongside the employing organization.

Additional information about Human Resources Management Functions can be found in Pharmacy Management: Essentials for All Practice Settings, 5e. If you or your institution subscribes to AccessPharmacy, use or create your MyAccess Profile to sign-in to  Pharmacy Management: Essentials for All Practice Settings, 5e. If your institution does not provide access, ask your medical librarian about subscribing.

1Heavner MS, Tichy EM, Yazdi M. Implementation of a pharmacist career ladder program. Am J Health Syst Pharm. 2016;73:1524-1530.

2California Society of Health Systems Pharmacists. Proposal for pharmacy technician education, training, practice, and career laddering: A proposal to advance pharmacy and promote patient safety. Calif J Health Syst Pharm. Jan/Feb 2015:29-40.

Go to the profile of Shane Desselle

Shane Desselle

Professor of Social and Behavioral Pharmacy, Touro University California

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Go to the profile of Shane Desselle
Shane Desselle 7 months ago

How would one   feel if where you worked you had absolutely no prospect for development or advancement regardless of hard you worked or how well you performed?