5 useful skills to boost your pharmacy career

Pharmacists need to evolve to fit in a dynamic pharmaceutical industry. It is important to upskill so as to have a competitive edge in the job market.

As the pharmaceutical industry rapidly evolves, so is the role of the pharmacist.

Consequently, the demands of the profession are fast transitioning in a dynamic manner. Pharmacists therefore need to position themselves to take full advantage of the opportunities that arise.

“Change is the law of life, and those who focus on just the past and present are set to miss the future.”

John Fitzgerald Kennedy (JFK) , 35th US president

As pharmacists it is important to look into the future through the lens of reality and acknowledge that there is need to upskill to gain any long-term success in the industry.  

What skills are necessary?

Pharma supply chain systems

Events such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine have shown that pharmaceutical supply chains are vulnerable to unforeseen disruptions.

For a continent that imports majority of its pharmaceutical supplies, it is important for pharmacists in Africa to learn skills that are vital for their organizations to not only survive but thrive during such events.

Concepts such as creating resilience, agility and end-to-end visibility in pharmaceutical supply chains are important for pharmacists to learn and understand.

Demand forecasting, cold chain logistics, warehouse & inventory optimization are also skills that pharmacists can leverage on to create value for themselves and their organizations.

Related: African Pharma : 3 technology trends that could revolutionize the industry (africanpharmaceuticalreview.com)

Data analysis and interpretation

The role of data in the pharmaceutical industry can not be under-estimated.

When well analyzed and interpreted, data can tell a story that eventually informs key decision making.

Drug discovery and development in particular, are areas where large volumes of data are generated and pharmacists need to understand how to navigate through this type of information.

In drug utilization research for instance; pharmacists need data skills to study the use and effects of drugs in large groups with the purpose of supporting rational and cost-effective use of medicines.

Accuracy of medicine consumption reports as well is hinged on good data handling ability.

Other contexts include; analysis of key data points in clinical trials, cohort event monitoring in pharmacovigilance, analysis of key sale drivers of medicines and aggregate data analysis on medicine use in facilities and/or regions. Areas that are crucial for pharmacy practice.

Basic knowledge of Technological trends

Current trends in the pharmaceutical industry are shifting towards use of technologies such as robotics, Internet of Things, artificial intelligence (AI) & machine learning.

These innovations are expected to change the pharmaceutical landscape in areas such as warehousing, cold chain transportation, last mile delivery, drug discovery and other aspects of pharmacy.

As a pharmacist, you do not need to be an expert in these fields. However, you do need to have a working knowledge on how these technologies work and affect the industry.

What about soft skills?

Negotiation skills

The difference between taking what comes to you vs getting what you want lies in your ability to negotiate.

As a pharmacist, at times you find yourself in precarious situations where job descriptions or reward structures don’t necessarily suit your prevailing ambitions.

To navigate through this, you need to master the art of negotiation.

Some tips of being a successful negotiator invariably include;

  • Aligning stakeholder success with your own
  • Getting comfortable with tough negotiations
  • Applying the win-win paradigm
  • Offering more than a singular option

As a pharmacist who has good negotiating ability, you can be a valuable asset to your organization.  

For instance, when seeking drug manufacturing partnerships, distribution agreements, joint ventures and company acquisitions, you need to ensure that your organization benefits from a mutually conceived collaboration.

Interpersonal skills

Your ability to communicate, network and relate effectively with peers and leaders in the industry can largely influence your career trajectory.

As a pharmacist you should foster good relationships with colleagues at your organization while building new ones through networking events such as scientific conferences and other industry meet-ups .

These relationships tend to open doors to new opportunities that allow you to meet your career objectives.

Exceptional interpersonal skills allow you to better handle a wide array of people; patients, colleagues, superiors, suppliers as well as new acquaintances.

In conclusion

Albert Einstein once said “When you stop learning, you start dying.”

As a pharmacist, don’t ‘die’.

It is important to continue exploring ways in which you can gain competitive advantage, whether in the job market or in entrepreneurship.

Upskilling and building your overall capacity in line with an evolving industry is a good starting point.

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Bevin Likuyani is a Pharmacist with a MPharm (Pharmacoepidemiology & Pharmacovigilance) and MBA (Strategic Management) from School of Business, University of Nairobi). He is a Certified Supply Chain Pharmacist. (American Association of Supply Chain Management) and content writer on pharma related topics. Email: bevin@africanpharmaceuticalreview.com

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