THE grass is always greener. I recently read that a high percentage of pharmacists would not advise their children to become pharmacists.
Pharmacists are certainly going through a bad patch: we are feeling a little sorry for ourselves, we are over worked, under paid and stressed out. But here is the thing, so is everybody else: teachers, care workers, railway workers, junior doctors, and zero-hour contract employees.
There are some exceptions, but by and large, most employees struggle through the bad times. Wages have stalled, job security has reduced. It is the times we are living in, not the profession we choose. We have two major problems. The first is that austerity economics benefits the few at the expense of the many – it always has and it always will.
The other issue we have is that technology is tearing industries apart and reshaping them at a rapid rate. Internet pharmacies and robotics taking over our jobs is a real fear, but would you rather be a journalist. The traditional media business model is already doomed and they all know it.
The traditional pharmacy business model may or may not be doom, we don’t fully know yet. Nobody can truly predict the future (except Bill Gates, he seems to be pretty good at it, someone should ask him about the future of pharmacy).
Personally, I am glad I became a pharmacist even though I did so for the wrong reasons. I became a pharmacist because I was lead to believe it was an easy job that paid loads of money. I since found out that was not true. It is a difficult job and does not pay a lot of money.
However, I am glad I became a pharmacist because being a pharmacist has changed me for the better. Being a pharmacist has helped me become much more understanding and empathic. I have met and befriended a wide range of people I would never have met otherwise. I have learned a lot about myself, about others, and about humanity and life in general.
I have matured and become less selfish. This has been of huge benefit for me in my personal relationships. I have learned how to look after my own health which I believe is invaluable. My priorities have also changed: when I was younger I was very competitive, I thought life was a game with winners and losers, but I now see that as being a narrow and insecure view of life. My priority now is my health and wellbeing.
I have found speaking to older people about their lives in the pharmacy has been very informative and inspiring. If I was not a pharmacist, I would never have spent any time talking to the elderly.
Interacting with people all day from all different walks of life has made me think:
- It does not matter who you are or what you achieve, bad health can be a prison sentence. You have to look after your health.
- Human interactions and the emotional connections you make in life are worth their weight in gold.
- Time is precious, have fun as much as you can. Life can pass you by.
- Live your life for yourself, nobody else is really that interested in your life.
- Relax, everything you do, is more pleasant when you are relaxed.
Would I like to earn more money? Of course. Currently there are not great opportunities for the majority of pharmacists to earn high wages, but that does not mean it will always be the case.
If I could go back, would I do something different to pharmacy? No. That is not to say I will not consider doing something else in the future. Looking back over 10 years of being a pharmacist, I feel I have grown and gained a lot personally that I may not have, if I had done a job less focused on care giving and human interaction.
Peter Kelly is a pharmacist based in London