Fueling Your Passion
By Aimee O’Reilly, R.Ph, PharmD
Find something you’re passionate about and surround yourself with people who fuel that passion.
When I first graduated, I wasn’t quite sure where I wanted to go in my career. Obviously, I had worked hard to get my degree and I knew I didn’t want to waste all that effort – but I wasn’t quite sure just where I was going. If you had asked me where I would be in five years I definitely wouldn’t have responded with “owning my own pharmacy”. Yet, here I am. I graduated from Ohio Northern in 2012 and January 1, 2017 I bought O’Reilly Family Pharmacy.
So how exactly did I get from there to here? I could give you all the generic answers “hard work”, “determination”, “drive” but it was more than that. I systematically (and sometimes without even realizing it) surrounded myself with people who were the best at what they did and who spoke to the kind of pharmacist I wanted to be. They say that “you are who you surround yourself with” and I believe that to be true. If you continually interact with individuals who just want to clock in, clock out and go home, soon that will be your goal too. Don’t get me wrong – after a long day of people complaining, computer systems being on the fritz and the day the A/C went out at the store in 90 degree weather – I want to just go home too.
Most times, the next morning I wake up with a renewed sense that this is my dream and that no matter how crazy a day or how many things went wrong at least I’m moving forward in this crazy mess of pharmacy ownership. On days when I don’t wake up with that attitude, it’s critical to have a support system who has my back and reminds me of just why I do what I do. Through my work with pharmacy organizations, NCPA, APhA and especially OPA, I have met people who continually inspire me and encourage me to go to that next level. It is incredibly inspiring to interact with individuals who are actively changing the way we practice and who I believe will one day be the legends we should all aspire to be. Now, you’re probably thinking “Where do I find these people?” and “How do I even begin talking to them once I find them?” The first question is easy, they’re right here in your own backyard. They’re at professional meetings – check out OPA’s committee meetings or their Annual Conference in April for a good start. They’re in your workplace. Your boss, your coworkers – they’re all potential drivers of your passion. They’re at your college of pharmacy. Remember that professor who was well connected or whose practice site was super innovative? Guess what, we’re peers now. Don’t be afraid to reach back out to them (and resist the urge to call them doctor). As for how to begin the conversation – start with simply creating a connection. Ask where they went to school, what do they do for a living, or (my personal favorite) ask what advice they have for you as someone aspiring to be a mover and shaker in pharmacy.
If you want to own your own store someday, find me at the next OPA meeting or reach out to me via email/Linkedin, etc. and start a conversation. If you, like most of my friends, think I’m certifiably crazy for owning my own store, then find what you’re passionate about and pursue relationships with people who inspire you to get there. Want to be the foremost expert in oncology? Start talking to people whose career focus is in that area. Want to run CVS someday? Start making appointments with the people who can make that happen. And don’t limit yourself to the people currently in the roles you want – inspiration can be found from anyone, and from being overdressed is always better than underdressed, to how to write a kick-ass CV, to always having emergency meatballs in the freezer, I’ll take all the advice I can get.