Advice for New Pharmacists

You are likely in a state of relief and excitement right now.  By this time, you have recently had graduation, taken board exams (or will be very soon), and hopefully found a pharmacist position that you enjoy.  You are probably eagerly anticipating receiving the financial rewards from all your hard work and student loans 🙂 Placing myself back in your shoes, here’s how I would try to shape my future.

My advice for new pharmacists:

  1. Get liability insurance.  The cost is not that expensive in comparison to other things and unless your parents are Bill Gates, you can’t afford a lawsuit.
  2. Develop a loan repayment plan (with your family’s involvement if applicable), and not the one that the bank tells you to follow.  You are going to pay off your student loan faster than that.  While many people equate money to owning ridiculously expensive things, you understand that money means freedom.  Debt means you’re “stuck” working a job you don’t like, simply for the cash.
  3. Find fellow pharmacists that enjoy what they do.  You will be happier learning from and asking questions of pharmacists who like what they do.  Always be kind and courteous, but feel free to keep a healthy distance (if possible) from pharmacists who are angry/frustrated about their job.
  4. Whether you are doing a residency or not at this point doesn’t matter, pick up new skills and become an expert in a sub-specialty and provide invaluable service to your organization.
  5. Take money out of your paycheck for retirement from the start.  You won’t even know you had it, and your future self will thank you.
  6. If you don’t find yourself saying “I don’t know” once in awhile, you might have overconfidentitis.  You’ve learned a lot throughout your pharmacy career, and there’s no doubt in my mind you are highly educated, but to be the best you can be you must continually learn.  Saying “I don’t know” is the first step in the learning process.
  7. You are going to do a lot of unique and cool things throughout your career because you care about your job and enjoy helping people.  Keep tabs on those things by setting a date (maybe twice a year) to update your CV.  It’s a huge pain to backtrack years and update it; trust me I know 🙂

Feel free to comment below if you have any words of wisdom for new pharmacists!


  1. Marie

    Very well said!!!! Nothing to add except find out what type of person you are. Are you the type that has to be an expert in one area or one with wanting to know a variety of different things. It’ll help you figure out your career path better ( no guarantee that it will not change later as you would)

    • Mel

      Marie, I’ve found the “StrengthsFinder 2.0” helpful in assessing strengths and skills. If you are confused as to what kind of career in pharmacy you want it can give you a helpful nudge in the right direction.

  2. Florentina Eller

    Thank you so much for your useful advice, Dr. Christianson. I’ll definitely follow it.
    Unfortunately, after graduating back in May, I had to leave behind my job at Kroger and my connections I made during APPEs and move to Illinois to live with my active duty Air Force spouse. I started applying for jobs right after obtaing my licenses in MO and IL but, my gosh it’s hard staying positive! The job market is tough! I’m competing against newly graduates from at least 4 pharmacy schools in MO and IL (I live20 minutes away from downtown St
    Louis on IL side) against residents and pharmacists with experience. I finally landed 2 interviews this week: with a LTC company in St
    Louis and with Walmart in IL. Even though my long term goal is to get BCGS certification and work as a consultant, at this point in my life I’ll take anything that comes my way.
    Thanks again and please continue blogging!

    • Chip

      @Florentina ,
      A great opportunity if your husband is in the military is at your local military base. The DoD sometimes has openings. As a active duty dependent, you get preferential treatment if there are openings. You can take that with you wherever y’all are stationed. The pay is a little on the low side, but the benefits when you start a family are great. Some bases even have clinical openings and you get to some things that a regular RPh can only dream of. These positions really let you use your clinical education.

      @Everyone else, the article was great covering the basics. The most important thing is to not get stuck in a job you are unhappy with. Before you know it, twenty years will have passed and you are burned out. If you’re unhappy early on, it is not going to change. Find a place that makes your work fulfilling and happy, even if it means moving around a few times. Remember, you are the future of our profession. Good Luck

  3. Mel

    That’s a really good point about pharmacist’s liability insurance. I don’t have it myself since I don’t dispense but for normal pharmacy practice it’s a necessity.

    • Eric Christianson

      Thanks for the insights Mel, pharmacists/students need to learn from some of the challenges and mistakes we’ve all made!

  4. Rae

    If you work in retail pharmacy be willing to learn from everyone from cashiers, techs to other pharmacists, because sometimes those cashiers and techs have been in pharmacy longer then you have been alive or have worked in pharmacy longer then you went to school and when/if you move to a different state be willing to do something different than your home State because laws and rules change from state to state it is not the same across the nation, and please be willing to continually learn new things and never choose the lazy way out. Most of all when your techs and cashiers do good work praise them, it will go a long way in making the work environment being more positive then negative. We get enough negative energy from the patients, so please back up your techs and cashiers when you can.

    • Doris

      My technicians have quite literally been my right hand through the years. They are and have been wonderful.
      (hospital pharmacy).

  5. Wendy

    I love the ” overconfiditis” point. We have a new pharmacist at our workplace who has alienated everyone else in the workplace with this. He has been there almost a year and continues to make the same mistakes over and over. If you try to show him – he gets defensive and has a reason for why he’s doing it even though it’s wrong. He pretends to know about certain areas in our workplace when it’s obvious he has very little experience with that area. Let me put it this way. When u have been in the field for over 20 years – you can tell when someone is shooting from the hip I would rather work with someone who was honest and admitted to not knowing something than pretend. Experienced co- workers can see right through it!He is stressing everyone else and its to the point that no one can even
    stand to be around him. It’s a very small workplace -so avoiding him is impossible.

    • Lisa Harris

      Most new grads, I have found (unfortunately) have the disease NPS (New Pharmacist’s Syndrome)…all of a sudden they have a little power and they think they know everything! Granted, there are things they know that I may not know, but 30+ years of experience trumps what they know now. My advice is to listen to your elders (whether they are pharmacists, techs, etc.) and learn some valuable lessons you just can’t learn in school…

  6. sahar sadig

    Very well said , thank you so much!

  7. Lucy

    This is nice,thanks

  8. Sheshagiri Gandasi

    A very nice and useful piece of advice, not confined to the new Pharmacists alone but to any new Professionals. Thank you Eric Christianson, it couldn’t have been better for the youngsters.

    • Eric Christianson


  9. Doris

    Good luck!! I am retiring soon and I have so loved my job and career up till recent months. I feel so blessed and I am happy to know I have helped so many people. Carry on! You’re great.

    • Eric Christianson


  10. Paul Garbarini, Esq., R.Ph

    Love the advice at #6- it is absolutely spot on! My father often said… ” the smartest guy in the room is the guy who, from time to time says, “I Don’t Know the answer” – but then goes out and gets the answer to the question. Don’t BS people- if you know the answer, tell them – if not, let them know you don’t, but get them the answer promptly- their confidence in your skills, and ensuing respect for your sense of decency will go through the roof. Excellent advice Eric- keep it coming- this world needs more advice “dispensers” such as yourself.


    Paul Garbarini

    • Eric Christianson

      Thanks Paul! Will do.

  11. Sheikh Pharm Ibrahim Ibn Saana

    This is an irresistibly free consultancy advice to not just the newly qualified Pharmacists but the same also goes for practicing pharmacists who have not yet taken the initiatives you have outlined here.I believe such pieces of advice can only come from professional who are dedicated and are truly committed to the cause of not only pharmaceutical care but to the advancement of human development.Thank you so much.

    • Eric Christianson

      Well stated. Thank you. 🙂

  12. Abouzar

    Good ones
    I’ll use them


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Written By Eric Christianson

July 22, 2015

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