We will define potentials as the “latent qualities or abilities that may be developed and lead to future success or usefulness.” In the same vein, optimisation refers to the “action of making the best or most effective use of a situation or resource”; or “to make as effective, perfect, or useful as possible”.
Consequently, the title of this piece can be elaborated as “How to Make the Best or Most Effective Use of the Latent Qualities or Abilities Inherent in the Training of a Young Pharmacist”. In reality, the theme will be expanded in coverage to include all pharmacists, but with emphasis on young pharmacists.
We are living in a country whose potentials had been largely sub-optimised over the years and the major factor of success for individuals, groups or profession is to live above this environment. From the social science realm, individuals are driven towards self-actualisation, a term described by Abraham Maslow as “the desire for self-fulfilment, namely the tendency for him (the individual) to become actualised in what he is potentially – to become everything one is capable of becoming.” It is this drive that I want to commend to the young pharmacists; to have this self-propelled mechanism to get to the top, the very top of the ladder.
According to Maslow, “What a man can be, he must be.” Simply put, if you are capable of scoring 90 per cent in an examination, you should not be satisfied with a 70 per cent score! Education is best defined as “the training of mind and character”. As a pharmacist, your mind and character have been trained and prepared to take on the world before you and be the best you can be. You are expected to make the full use (exploitation) of your talents, capacities and potentialities; your environment of operation notwithstanding.
Maslow also told us that “the story of the human race is the story of men and women selling themselves short”. With experience, we are almost giving credence to this assertion such that it can be said that the story of pharmacists in Nigeria is the story of men and women selling themselves short! We are challenged in all the areas of practice and we are desperately in need of self-actualisers to serve as role models.
A self-actualiser is a person living creatively and fully using his or her potentials. I will urge all to read more about the 13 characteristics of self-actualisers as written down by Abraham Maslow. This knowledge will help you to stay above your environment. The time has come for us to stop talking and complaining about the limitation of our environment. Our attention should now be focused on the individual and his or her desire to be self-actualised.
According to Maslow, “what is necessary to change a person is to change his awareness of himself”. So, let me ask you, since you left school, have you taken a self-examination about who you are and what you have achieved so far? What is stopping you from getting to the highest point of the “life ladder”, that is, a higher purpose of human existence? We complain about lack of employment opportunities or low remuneration package or poor treatment by employers, senior colleagues, and so on; but have we ever bothered ourselves about our collective employability?
The job market is shrinking and getting saturated in a situation that can be called “career climate change”. There are more schools of pharmacy and therefore, more graduates. The oversea option is getting restricted, due to what I will call the “Trump phenomenon” and the COVID-19 pandemic. Our job, as it is constituted now, is more product-centric and this product is treated as a mere commodity in this environment and that will explain why everybody is in it. It is the knowledge and skills of a pharmacist that are not commodities and this is what must be leveraged for competitive advantage.
There is a need for a shift in attitudes, behaviours and pursuit. Our agitation, expectations or drive should no longer be about money at the onset of career development. The emphasis at the beginning should be focused on adding value to the job position or duty to gain recognition and respect in the workplace. The focus should be on how to leverage the knowledge of Pharmacy to create programmes that people want or that employers desire. The future of the profession will not be that of dispensing, distribution or legal restrictions (for example: only pharmacists can open retail pharmacies); rather it will be about deployment of knowledge and skills.
With Pharmacy education, you already have the knowledge as a scientist; but practising the “art” of Pharmacy is what is required in the marketplace. Since you are not well groomed for the practice while in school, you must use your knowledge to acquire the skills and competencies required for success. This acquisition will require patience, determination, humility, sacrifice and more knowledge acquisition. In the process, you must drop the entitlement culture and bloated ego.
The skills required include knowledge of facts and theories relating to the design and manufacture of medicines, ability to communicate effectively, production of pharmacy specific documentation, operation of pharmaceutical instrumentation, knowledge of law and ethics relating to supply of medicines, analysis of medicines, interpersonal skills, ability to work well in a team, problem solving skills, thinking clearly and methodically (creative or strategic thinking),organization and management, commercial awareness among others.
The good news is that the “land is green”. There are so many problems requiring solutions. There are opportunities in commercial, technical, administrative and executive management segments of the practice. The field is open for budding entrepreneurship. Let us think and work more on VALUE ADDITION
By Pharm. (Dr) Lolu Ojo, BPharm, MBA, PharmD, FPCPharm, FPSN, FNAPharm