Recently we interviewed 7 pharmacist who trasitioned into pharmacy IT. All of the seven pharmacists we interviewed for career-transition insights felt as though they’d made a good decision. Obviously, though, not every pharmacist who makes this career transition ends up feeling like it was a great move. We did not speak with any pharmacists who transitioned into IT/informatics and felt like they’d made a bad move, but the group with which we spoke has seen a number of pharmacists come and go. As a result, we felt they could also provide insight into aspects of the profession that caused their colleagues to leave.
The first issue for those who left: not understanding the difference between Pharmacy IT and Pharmacy Informatics. Not only are they two different practices of the pharmaceutical profession — they are also routinely defined differently from organization to organization. People who got in and then left lacked a true understanding of what they were signing up for. Not only do you have to be clear about the role you’re looking for, but you also have to be clear that the organization you’re going to join sees it the same way.
You cannot simply assume from a job description. Many organizations creating this type of a role for the first time use a general job description they received from colleagues at other organizations that already have this type of a position in place. However, once someone is hired into the role and is actually working to achieve organizational objectives, the organization’s unique circumstances can require the role to be something different from what was originally planned.
Another cause of leaving this path: a lack of passion for the role. Our pharmacists told us that they witnessed many pharmacists “burning out” or bored in traditional roles moving to an IT/informatics role, believing that it would provide variety that would make their job interesting again. All of the pharmacists with whom we spoke strongly voiced their belief that if someone does not have a “passion” for this area of pharmacy, they probably will not last very long. This is primarily due to the sometimes-longer hours within this profession, which leads us to the next reason . . .
The third reason can be classified as not just (sometimes) longer hours, but also inconsistent hours. Whereas traditional pharmacists have specific shift-hours, an IT/informatics pharmacist’s role can be geared more toward project-type work. Many times, the need to manage and juggle multiple projects at the same time will require the new IT/informatics pharmacist to put in many more hours then they’re accustomed to. This is particularly the case at the outset. It’s at this point when the pharmacist without a passion for this area of pharmacy may feel as if the trade-offs are not quite worth it.
And lastly, more than one pharmacist with whom we spoke had seen colleagues who really missed the work they’d done in the past. Many misinterpreted “needed a break” with “needing a career change.” Many, unfortunately, did not realize this until they’d made the job change and were away from their old job for a few months.
Taking these issues into consideration, while performing your own career evaluation, can either cause you to not make this type of career transition or certainly be more prepared for it when you do.