Professional Development Tools to Advance your Pharmacy Career

During the 78th FIP World Congress in Glasgow, YPG led a session on professional development for young pharmacists. This session was held in collaboration with the FIP Academy Section, the FIP Social and Administrative Pharmacy Section, the FIP SIG on Pharmacy Practice Research and IPSF. Chaired by Miranda Law, the session was well attended by enthusiastic young pharmacists.

The first speaker was Israel Bimpe. His presentation was titled ‘The use of social media and conferencing as a student’. He emphasised the importance of creating value as a young pharmacist by engaging in conferences, and most importantly aiming to not just be “the person running after people to collect and exchange business/contact cards”, but being that person that people will look for. This he advised can be achieved by identifying what sets you apart and becoming an expert in your chosen niche.

“Become the centre of the network“ — Israel Bimpe

Miranda Sertić spoke next and addressed professional development from a young pharmacist’s perspective, particularly a young pharmaceutical scientist’s. She emphasised the importance of choosing an area of research that interests you, if applicable, and the importance of choosing the right country, location and mentor!

She highlighted the importance of gaining additional skills one may ordinarily not get in a lab. These skills include organizational, communication and leadership skills, which can be gained by getting involved in education or politics, or by attending and organizing conferences and symposiums.

She further encouraged participants to communicate through social media and to promote science, as well as maintain professional profiles on LinkedIn, Academia.edu, and ResearchGate. These platforms provide room for networking, and there are opportunities to post questions on any topics you need answers to. The development of an individual development plan (IDP) was also highlighted as a key strategy in identifying one’s long-term career goals. The IDP helps one to determine how their career goals align with their current skills, with the opportunity to reflect on how to improve these skills.

Miranda also shared tools for writing a scientific paper (such as a note-taking software (Evernote) and reference managers like EndNote and Mendeley), and tools for professional development (such as TEDtalks, Webinars and blogs).

“Choose your mentor carefully. Finding a good mentor is key “

— Miranda Sertić

David Steeb, the final speaker of the day presented on professional development from an established professional’s perspective. His presentation focused on ‘participating in professional organizations and the art of networking’

He emphasised the importance of getting engaged in professional organizations early on in one’s career. He shared how great mentors pushed him to get involved in professional organizations when he was starting out in his career as a pharmacist. While highlighting the importance of good grades, he emphasised that it was never too early to get involved as a student. He encouraged young pharmacists to nominate themselves for positions in the executive or subcommittees of professional organizations, even if there seemed a possibility they might not be selected (if you never try, you never know). He advised on the importance of becoming a member of professional organizations in order to be able to volunteer for leadership opportunities.

He engaged the audience and was able to get responses from participants on the value of being engaged within professional organizations. Responses ranged from the opportunity to gain a different perspective on professional life/practice to the opportunity to get involved on a wider scale. Other reasons highlighted by David in his presentations are the opportunity of growing lifelong friendships/relationships, discovering new opportunities, increased visibility, personal and professional growth and exposure to people of different cultures and backgrounds. David also stressed that it is a professional obligation to get involved, while also recognising potential barriers to this such as a lack of awareness about the existence of these organizations and the costs of attending meetings/conferences.

“Getting contacts and building connections are great; networking is important”

— David Steeb

With respect to networking, David shared that networking is about building relationships. Networking is about giving more than receiving. It is also important to follow up with new contacts. Within one week of connecting with people, reach out to them to follow up. Don’t just collect cards and stack them up; write down 2 points you discussed with the person, and follow up based on these. Following up can also be done on social media platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter.

After the talks, participants were divided into four groups depending on their area of interest to discuss with and learn from the speakers/chair on either of the four topic areas:

- Elevator Pitch- David Steeb

- Emotional Intelligence- Miranda Law

- Social media- Israel Bimpe

- Mentorship- Miranda Sertić

Ready to learn about developing an elevator pitch

Overall, the session was very successful, and participants left feeling satisfied with the value they gained from listening to, and learning from the speakers.

Below are a few of the participants’ reactions to the session.

“The practical sessions were very valuable and provided insight into what the speakers talked about.”- Jana Kubačková (Slovakia)

“The major thing I have learnt is how to be a better pharmacist. I have been exposed to different strategies and tools I can use to make my dreams come true. This session has made me understand that you have to dream big, but start small. Each step you achieve is like climbing up a ladder. That is the way you move forward. I also learnt how to develop my elevator pitch, and how to sell myself. All these I can implement in my community pharmacy practice and see how I can engage more in a lot of professional activities to make myself visible.”- Mary Ann Imhoaghene (Nigeria)

“Knowing that I stand to gain from the speakers’ experiences, specifically Israel that has had a very unique career, is quite a good feeling. I believe that this session was about trying to make yourself stand out, and trying to make your networking more effective, which I think has accomplished all my objectives for attending the session.”- Ryan Chen (UK)

Article by Ayodeji Matuluko (Newsletter Coordinator, FIP-YPG 2017–2018 Subcommittee)

The Young Pharmacists Group of FIP (International Pharmaceutical Federation)