What’s Right

Mike McGough
May 2024

He had no specific plan for what he wanted to do after high school, so he decided to take a gap year and check out some possibilities. He also needed to build up some savings. Shortly after graduation, he went to work in a local drug store. It was one of the larger retail drug stores in his neighborhood. In addition to the pharmacy, this store offered a wide array of other products. He started stocking shelves and working at the front registers.

When one of the pharm-techs who assisted the pharmacists was transferred to another store, he was asked to fill in temporarily. He enjoyed working in the pharmacy. He was a quick study, so he picked up on procedures in no time at all. Although he was always under the supervision of a pharmacist, he had demonstrated that he was a real asset. As the end of his first year approached, the lead pharmacist asked if she and one of the other pharmacists could take him to lunch. He agreed. 

He was flattered by the compliments they offered as lunch began, but that wasn’t why they were there. They also outlined some recent changes in health care procedures affecting pharmacists. They explained that the field of pharmacy was evolving and the role of pharmacists in comprehensive healthcare systems was expanding continuously. Then they began sharing why they had invited him to lunch. It was a potential game changer for him.

They told him that the store’s corporate office has a program whereby employees can apply for assistance with tuition and other costs, if they’re part of a college or university program leading to a doctorate in pharmacy—a PharmD. They told him that they didn’t need an answer right then, but really wanted him to consider the possibility. As their lunch continued, the lead pharmacist explained why they thought this might be a good opportunity for him.

“You clearly have the intellect and aptitude to handle a pharmacy program, and you seem to be a good fit in the pharmacy. You appear to be comfortable, and you’re a real asset. They’re all important factors, but you have something extra that we’ve all noticed and really like about you. You always seem to be focused on what’s right instead of what’s wrong.”  She then shared a very poignant example. 

“About a month ago a customer was standing waiting to have his prescriptions filled. It was obvious that he was still recovering from a lengthy hospital stay. As you were giving him his prescriptions, you said how nice it was that he was out, was feeling better, was able to be on his own, and was getting back to his routine. If you recall, he smiled, thanked you, and offered a slow but heart-felt fist bump. To be very honest with you, we’ve lost track of the number of times you’ve had similar encounters with people coming to the pharmacy.”

Then the other pharmacist added, “A PharmD program is going to provide you with the academic knowledge, technical proficiencies, professional skills, and essential experiences needed to be a good pharmacist. What can’t be taught are the soft skills, the interpersonal talents, the knack for looking to find something right in situations where what’s wrong seems to loom so large. You’ve got that, and 21st century health care needs all the practitioners it can find to make that a big part of what drives what we do.” 

Later that year, he enrolled in a program leading to a doctorate in pharmacy. After four years of intensive course work, lab work that’s been both interesting and challenging, and an array of experiences in the various fields of pharmaceutical sciences, he’s within two years of completion. Time and time again, he reminds himself how happy he is to have the opportunity to be involved in this field of study.  And there is little doubt that the field of pharmacy is going to be pleased to have the opportunity to welcome him to their ranks.

Regardless of what job, line of work, or career you pursue in life, do it from a positive perspective.  Look for what’s right. When you focus on what’s wrong, that’s what you’ll tend to see. When you focus on what’s right, that’s what you’ll tend to see. That focus not only impacts the way you go through your days, but it can impact how you interact with others, as they’re trying to make it through their days.

When we see someone who looks disgruntled, we often ask, “What’s wrong?” The next time you encounter someone who isn’t having a great day, consider offering them something positive or something that’s going right to think about. You may just lighten their day!