Why I Walked Away From Pharmacy

We have two lives, and the second begins when we realize we have only one

Confucius

I graduated pharmacy school in 2019 and afterwards I decided to take an unconventional path. Unlike most that graduate pharmacy school I didn’t go into retail, hospital or even residency. I made the decision to walk away from pharmacy to start my own business in the health and fitness industry. It has been a challenging journey since my decision in 2019. I’ve experienced frustrations, disappointments, and uncertainity. It hasn’t been easy for me or my family. It has also been a challenge economically. I’m not able to fully support my family financially bothers me more than anything else. My wife has been the primary earner in our family. I’m truly grateful for her support and patience with me as I struggle with this professional aspect of my life. 

I’ve spent hours working on something and sometimes nothing comes of it. I’ve been turned down for over a dozen jobs in the health coaching industry, I’ve been rejected and ignored by most people I’ve contacted offering my services. All of which makes me doubt my decision; was it worth it for me to leave pharmacy? Was it worth it to not follow what most pharmacist do after graduating? Do I have any regrets about my decision? I don’t regret my decision to leave pharmacy. Everything negative I’ve experienced and still experience I can endure. But what I could have never endured was working in conventional pharmacy. 

What I saw in pharmacy school, on my rotations and on the jobs I had as a technician played a role in my decision to not work in the conventional pharmacy environment. I knew that being in conventional pharmacy did not align with my values and beliefs.

I believe in preventative medicine, I believe in not relying overwhelmingly on drugs as the main resource for fixing every health problem. Conventional pharmacy is a tough game to be in. Most pharmacist are over-worked and unhappy. They are understaffed, under-appreciated, under valued, burned out, stressed out and unhappy. Are some pharmacist happy working their way up the retail pharmacy corporate ladder? Yes, but on the opposite end there are those who are miserable. For me it was a simple question that I needed to answer. Do I want to work in retail pharmacy and make my way up the corporate ladder knowing that it will make me miserable or do I want to go out on my own and do something scary but not dangerous? 

Dangerous vs. scary. 

Jim Koch, the founder of The Boston Beer Company describes the difference between dangerous and scary on the podcast, How I Built This. There are lots of things that are scary but not dangerous but there are things that are dangerous but not scary. Its those things that are dangerous but not scary that cause people to be comfortable, to be content with where they are. 

For me, staying and continuing to work in pharmacy after graduating was dangerous but not scary. The danger is in continuing to do something that wasn’t going to make me happy and getting old only to realize that I’ve wasted my life working for the big retail pharmacy chains. 

“Failing is scary. Wasting your life is dangerous” 

How I Built This, Guy Raz

The scary thing about starting any business is the uncertainity. It’s that unkown. But the unknown isn’t always dangerous. 

I don’t want to waste my life. I want to create a business that is meaningful to me and others. A business that supports my personal and professional growth and goals. A Business that does good in the world while doing well. A business that will allow me to grow as a pharmacist and health coach. A business that aligns with my interest and curiosities. A business that aligns with my values and beliefs about health, family, lifestyle and finances. A business that will allow me to be authentic with myself and others. 

I want to find out what I am capable of achieving in the next two or three decades of my life. 

Making the decision to not pursue a residency and to not work in retail left me with little to no choices for what I could do as a pharmacist. So, what did I do? 

I decided to follow my interests and my curiosity. I enrolled in and completed a health coach training program and then I started my business as a supplement consultant and health coach. Have I succeed on this new journey? Not yet, success rarely comes as fast as we want it to. But I am much happier than I could have ever been working for any of the big retail pharmacy chains.

Lately, I have been reading the work of Robert Greene. What attracts me to his writing is his unique ability to study history, and the lives of historical figures at a deep level and then to convey to his readers lessons about life, work, success, power and failure.

Some of the most prominent men and women in history didn’t have a clear cut path towards their success in life. For example, Charles Darwin didn’t know from his childhood that he want to be a biologist. He wanted to be a medical doctor (as influenced by his dad), then he wanted to be a priest but that also didn’t pan out. 

In his book, Mastery, Robert Greene writes about one’s Life Task. This is how he described what a Life Task is: At your birth a seed is planted, that seed is your uniqueness. It wants to grow, transform itself, and flower to its full potential. It has a natural, assertive energy to it. Your Life’s Task is to bring that seed to flower, to express your uniqueness through your work. You have a destiny to fulfill. The stronger you feel and maintain it- as a force, a voice, or in whatever form- the greater your chance for fulfilling this Life’s Task and achieving mastery

I am not tied to a particular position; my loyalty is not to a career or a company. I am committed to my Life’s Task, to giving it full expression. It is up to me to find it and guide it correctly. It is not up to others to protect or help me. I am on my own. This is why I walked away from pharmacy. 

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