I get a lot of emails from pharmacists and students seeking advice on various topics. Here was a recent one that really got me thinking. The basic premise of the email below was “How to get work as a long term care consultant pharmacist?”
“I’ve been following your blog for a while especially while pursuing my Board Certification in Geriatric Pharmacy. Your blog was very and still is useful. I also purchased your mock CGP exam. and that was great to help me simulate a real life exam. Thankfully I passed and I am fully certified Geriatric Pharmacist!!
The reason I am writing is to ask if you could write a blog post for those of us who would like to work in the LTCF setting. I have found it very hard to try and launch my career in this direction. I reached out to several LTCF in the area to ask for work shadow opportunity, but to no avail.
Do you have any pointers or tips into how one could get started out?
It would be very much appreciated.
I’m always appreciative of these emails and they really get me to think about what other pharmacists are struggling with. To be blatantly honest, I worked for an independent consulting company and did not actually start my own consulting business. However, over several years, I did notice that some things were very effective at helping to generate new business. Starting from nothing is not something I have pursued at this point in my career, but here’s some ideas as to how I would get started.
- If you have no background in LTC consultant, read 30 minutes to an hour everyday about long term care facilities. You have to know what you are talking about.
- Be prepared to speak the lingo. Much like community pharmacy is a lot different than hospital pharmacy, long term care pharmacy is an entirely different animal. I have created a 10+ hour recorded webinar with my experiences and what you need to know about long term care consulting. ASCP is another source for long term care consultant pharmacist information.
- Recognize that administration and nursing administration (ultimately the people that will hire you) care deeply about survey deficiencies. Be prepared to answer questions surrounding medication related survey deficiencies. F-329 and F-428 are the classic ones you will likely encounter. Reviewing their last survey and identifying where you may be able to help could be a useful strategy and help show you know what you are talking about.
- Provide free educational inservices. This allows you to demonstrate your skills as a pharmacist as well as show you care. Some examples of common LTC topics that nursing staff are very receptive to; Survey deficiencies, Diabetes care in geriatrics, UTI’s/URI’s, Medication administration, Psychotropics
- Utilize your credentials. In Dahlia’s case, she has her geriatric certification, which can be a potential sign to an employer that there is a higher level of knowledge/background.
- Get out there. Go speak to nursing leaders and administration and see if they need help or know of anyone else who might be looking for a consultant pharmacist. I wouldn’t recommend going and doing a direct sales pitch, but potentially offering something like a free educational inservice as mentioned above.
- Use any long term care connections you have. Keep in mind that it would be a tough ask to approach another consultant pharmacist in your area. If you have an old classmate maybe from a different area, having a conversation or mentorship type relationship with them would be very helpful.
- Anything worthwhile is not easy. Getting your first job will likely be the hardest. Expect that it will take 6 months to a year (maybe longer) to potentially get your first opportunity. Once given an opportunity to prove yourself, you will gain a track record and that facility will likely allow you access to other administrators and directors of nursing. I cannot downplay how important reputation is and when given that first opportunity, never disappoint them.
- If you are student, and are interested in LTC consulting, get this experience now when you are on rotation. As Dahlia’s email indicates, it is very difficult to get shadow experiences as a pharmacist.
- If you are looking for some articles on long term care topics or the consultant pharmacist, check out this blog I’ve created. LTCPharmD.com
I have had similar emails/messages to Dahlia’s and probably the most important thing I can teach you is to take action, continuously learn about long term care, and be generous with your time and knowledge. Hope that helps some of you trying to get a little more clinical work!
Eric Christianson, PharmD, BCGP, BCPS