What are the top three attributes of a pharmacist?

What are the attributes of a pharmacist that cause an employer to want to hire him or her?

Throughout the academic experience of earning a doctor of pharmacy degree students are continually challenged to improve their clinical skills. They must learn clinical guidelines, patient assessment, patient monitoring parameters, and basic diagnostic criteria for key diseases. Given the nature of pharmacy education students become focused on earning good grades and high test scores.

Do pharmacy school grades matter?

The burning question in my mind is whether or not the skills required to earn good grades are those same skills that will manifest in that graduate pharmacist being a high quality competent employee pharmacist. With this question in mind I launched a research process this past fall to identify those parameters that employers use to discriminate between applicants for pharmacist jobs. Although the full data won’t be reported until later this year the raw data shows some very compelling results.

Is it Character or is it Grades?

The survey compared 24 character strengths as defined by Marty Seligman against 24 markers of academic success as defined by my co-authors. Over 3000 pharmacists responded to the survey and offered their opinions. While there were some minor differences between some of the demographic groups, such as hospital system pharmacists versus community employed pharmacists versus academic pharmacists, in general the consensus opinions were very consistent across all groups.

When asked to rank from most important to least important 24 character strengths and 24 academic markers, (rank from first to 48) all 24 of the character strengths were ranked as significantly more important than any of the academic markers.

What are the top three attributes that matter?

The top three attributes that appear to be most important in the minds of employers when considering applicants for the job of pharmacists are:

Scored on an 11 point scale

The person is polite to peers and customers. 9.45
The person possess excellent communication skills. 9.33
Comes to work prepared. 9.31

In contrast scores for the academic markers were not even close.

Graduated from a prestigious school of pharmacy. 3.62
Graduated with honors from school of pharmacy. 3.26
Has a GPA higher than other applicants. 3.53

The respondent’s pretty much mirrored the actual distribution of pharmacists in the workforce in that 65% of the respondents worked in community practice in about 20% worked in the hospital system. While the study was not perfect the magnitude of the differences suggest that employers consider the non-academic attributes of an employee has much more important in their decision of whether or not they are going to offer that employee a job.

Greg L. Alston is an author, educator, pharmacist and entrepreneur with 35+ years of experience as a drugstore operator and owner. He helps pharmacists to develop and implement value strategies that will generate new revenue, cut expenses, increase profits and build equity while making pharmacy enjoyable again.