According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are around 325,000 practicing pharmacists in the United States, highlighting their significant role within the healthcare sector. When patients are diagnosed with a specific condition or illness, they receive a prescription that is carefully verified, prepared, and dispensed by the pharmacist. However, this process is more complex than merely selecting and distributing medications from a shelf. It necessitates a broad range of skills for pharmacists to effectively fulfill their responsibilities. The good news is that these skills can be cultivated and improved through continuous practice.
Let’s explore the soft skills every pharmacist should have and how you can improve them.
What are soft skills in pharmacy?
Soft skills are non-technical skills that relate to how someone works. They include how you interact with others, solve problems, and carry out your work. You can develop soft skills in various settings, including at school, work, volunteer activities, and by attending training programs and classes.
8 valuable soft skills for a pharmacist
Here are some of the soft skills that employers need before they can hire you:
- Excellent communication and interpersonal skills
One of the most important soft skills that every health professional must have is excellent communication and interpersonal skills. As a pharmacist, you spend most of your time communicating with clients regarding their drug prescriptions. Quality communication skills are a prerequisite to productive interaction between the pharmacist, their patients, and other medical personnel. You must clearly explain to the patient how specific drugs work, including any possible side effects. Since you will interact with patients who have diverse personalities, you should also possess excellent interpersonal skills that allow you to handle everyone with empathy. Some valuable interpersonal skills include empathy, negotiation, listening, and conflict resolution.
- Attention to detail
Due to the nature of their jobs, pharmacists are expected to be highly accurate in their daily tasks. Studies reveal nearly 30% of hospitalized patients have at least one medication discrepancy. Checking the medications prescribed for a patient requires you to be very keen on every detail to avoid dispensing the wrong medication or dosages that could harm the patient. During a review of a customer’s prescription, you must check the doctor’s and patient’s names and read the doctor’s prescription carefully to administer the correct medication in the right dosage.
- Great analytical skills
Analytical skills are invaluable to any pharmacist looking to advance their career. These skills enable you to pick out pertinent problems in your area of duty and provide practical solutions. With such skills, you can easily understand a patient’s history and provide the best medical treatment. Analytical skills also enable you to identify adverse side effects of certain medications and make necessary changes.
- Multitasking skills
The ability to multitask is an excellent skill to have as a pharmacist. A pharmacist is responsible for various duties, including serving clients, updating records, answering calls, and responding to emails from other departments. They also restock drugs, check medication to ensure they are not expired, and more. With solid multitasking skills, you can carry out these duties conveniently and with ease.
As a pharmacist, you will interact with sensitive patient information in the course of your duties. You must keep all patient information discreet. You have a duty to safeguard information regarding the client’s diagnosis, history of sickness, and medication. Under no circumstances should you reveal such information to unauthorized people within the medical setting or even your neighborhood.
- Teamwork skills
A pharmacy has several moving parts that must come together. This makes teamwork a high-priority skill that employers value. Teamwork improves how you communicate with other medical professionals. Good teamwork will help ensure few errors are made. Knowing when to ask for help or when to pick up the slack of a colleague and how you should share responsibilities is crucial to keeping everything running smoothly.
- Problem-solving skills
A pharmacy is often a high-stress environment that requires you to be innovative in finding solutions to problems impacting patients. Solid problem-solving skills and thinking outside the box are key to providing patients with the care they need. Having strong problem-solving skills can also help you navigate complex workplace logistics.
Empathy is the ability to feel what the patient is feeling by putting yourself in their shoes. There are times when patients can be upset, irrational, or simply irritable. As a pharmacist, you must show such patients that you care and understand. Showing empathy is an effective way to connect with patients and establish a productive personal relationship. Empathy will also earn you their trust and confidentiality.
How a pharmacist can improve their soft skills
Improving your pharmacy skills is integral to career advancement. We gain soft skills throughout our daily interactions in life and work. The tips below can help you enhance your soft skills:
Tap into online courses: Several pharmacist skills can be acquired through learning and constant practice. Enrolling in a pharmacy program online can be a great way to acquire some of the skills mentioned above, even as you work. The University of Findlay’s Distance Doctor of Pharmacy Program produces versatile graduates who excel in various career paths, driving innovation in the pharmaceutical industry, academia, and the private and public sectors for the development of new medications and therapies.
Find a mentor: You can learn some soft skills from others, including mentors. Working with someone with the qualities and abilities you admire to learn is among the easiest ways to unlock your soft skills. Emulate their work ethic and allow room for guidance.
Communicate often: Communication is like a muscle you must keep using to strengthen it. If you rarely exercise your communication skills, you will be less comfortable and reluctant to communicate when needed.
Be open to feedback: A critical part of improving your soft skills is being open to feedback you may receive from your clients, supervisors, and colleagues. When you are open to feedback, you are more receptive to criticism. You can use such insights to improve your weak areas.
Developing and honing soft skills is crucial for pharmacists to excel in their roles and achieve optimal productivity. These essential skills provide a competitive advantage and open doors for career advancement. Fortunately, acquiring these skills is attainable through practice or by enrolling in online programs that offer flexible learning options, allowing you to enhance your abilities while actively working in the field.