Business Skills for the New Pharmacist

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A previous Tip of the Week some time ago commented upon a national survey of pharmacists reporting on the types of skills most valued among job applicants for pharmacist positions. Not surprisingly, many so-called “soft skills” in the social and administrative sciences rose to the top. But more evidence is needed. In this case, a group of preceptors commented specifically on the business skills that might be most advantageous for junior practitioners in the years to come.

Augustine et al conducted focus groups of pharmacy preceptors to discuss these desired business-related skills.1 The type of information researchers obtain from focus groups differs from that of surveys. Survey information might be acquired from hundreds or even thousands of respondents and depending on a number of factors might be generalizeable to entire populations. Focus groups usually consist of a small number of persons from a geographically small, or constrained area; however, very rich, detailed and nuanced data can be derived from their use. In this research, the first theme derived from the focus group data was in regard to communication skills. It was emphasized that both oral and written communication skills are increasingly important. Moreover, pharmacists have to be able to speak effectively with a range of different persons, and the same strategies advocated for use in communication with patients (eg, active listening, empathy, assertiveness) should be used in communicating with all pharmacy stakeholders. The second theme detailed business skills needed such as interpreting profit-loss statements, budgets, and organizational structure and culture knowledge, such as mission, vision, and business planning, in addition to human resources (HR) management skills. The third theme described decision-making and time management skills, including the process of gathering and selecting information to solve problems, in addition to delegation to maximize time and empower others. The fourth theme centered around conflict resolution, requiring that pharmacy graduates be humble and realize that not all decisions are personal. The fifth theme concerned leadership and professionalism , which emphasized creative thinking but also that professionalism encompasses role modeling, rather than just things like appearance and promptness. These culminated in the sixth and final theme, which was managing and directing others. It was thought that effectiveness in this regard was observed in how well teams function under the direction of a pharmacist and the attitudes and behaviors of team members when that pharmacist is not present.

Nationwide surveys and now rich focus group interview of preceptors point to the need for management skills for effective pharmacy practice in today’s healthcare environment. Pharmacists demonstrating these skills will do well for their patients and also well for themselves, career-wise.

Additional information about The “Management” in Medication Therapy Management and 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.

1Augustine J, Slack M, Cooley J, et al. Identification of key business and management skills needed for pharmacy graduates. Am J Pharm Educ. 2018;82: Article 6364.

Shane Desselle

Professor of Social and Behavioral Pharmacy, Touro University California


Go to the profile of Shane Desselle
about 2 months ago

So, how effective are you with these skills?