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Week 3:Observations by Justin Bioc

Week 3: Observations
September 21, 2013 - September 27, 2013

Other than the one meeting I had on Wednesday, I basically had the whole week to myself. I’ve been working on my projects by reading articles, making connections with the data, and preparing to write. In my faculty recruitment and retention research, I began to get the impression that faculty life is not as favorable compared to one in clinical practice.
From my own observations even before doing research, it was the clinical vignettes told by my professors in the classroom that helped me become excited about practicing pharmacy outside of the classroom, but did not necessarily get me excited about teaching. Then, seeing your professors outside of class running around trying to get work done and upset because of student incivility or inauspicious changes in administrative policies, a poor picture is painted for what academic pharmacy has to offer.  The emphasis of the joy and benefits of teaching are completely lost, and those experiences are almost never heard by students in the everyday classroom setting. Looking from a strictly financial standpoint, academic life continues to pale in comparison. Let’s compare three settings: academic, community, and hospital. Walking in as an Assistant Professor will snag you about $98,000 (AACP) while jobs in the community and hospital setting will allow you earn about $116,000 (DrugTopics) and $111,000 (RxSalary), respectively. Assuming the salaries for community and hospital stay the same and that it would take 3 years, only theoretically in this case, to get a promotion to Associate Professor with a salary comparable to that of a hospital pharmacist, you would lose anywhere between $13,000-$18,000 per year for a grand total of about $46,500 in annual losses. Factor in money depreciation, such as inflation, and opportunity costs, as well as the fact that salaries don’t add to job satisfaction and only help to prevent job dissatisfaction, there are significant losses from a purely economic stand point.
It wasn’t until I took a class in pharmacy higher education that I learned about the inner workings of academic life and the things that make the pay cut seem worth the investment. One of the major satisfactions associated with becoming an educator is watching students mature. The transformation that can occur in college can be so drastic; in four years, a student becomes a professional that will be caring for patients. Especially coming from a school that takes freshmen undergraduates and creates pharmacists in six years, many students may not understand what the pharmacy profession is all about, why they want to be a pharmacist, or what professionalism really is. According to the studies that I’ve been analyzing, being able to contribute to that growth is one of the most rewarding parts of being a professor.
Though not completely elucidated in the studies, there is also satisfaction in contributing to the growth of the profession. As I’ve also been inspired by the stories of clinical practice, educators instill the knowledge and skills to allow a new generation to make impacts on healthcare, improving health outcomes and quality of life. Now those new professionals can inspire others.
Lastly, there is a lot more flexibility and variability associated with academic life. Typically, community pharmacists and hospital pharmacists spent a lot of time on their feet doing the same tasks every day. It could be verifying prescriptions, typing notes on the computer, or reviewing patient charts. Generally speaking, the tasks of today are the tasks of tomorrow. In academia, there are many more things you can do other than teaching, and most institutions will require that educators go beyond just teaching. It could mean participating in research, getting involved in a committee, and/or making programs for students outside of classroom time. My impression of academic life is that the tasks of today will not necessarily be the tasks of tomorrow. There could even be enough flexibility to be able to work part-time in another area of pharmacy.
The satisfaction that my professors’ received from watching students mature, from making impacts in the medical world, and from living a flexible lifestyle was enough to offset the minor pay deduction. While there were some deterrents to working in academia, there were many more rewards.
When recruiting for new faculty, what I’ve learned is that the process doesn’t begin at graduation, but really, attracting possible candidates should, just as any other sector of pharmacy, happen before and throughout the pharmacy curriculum. This has been the conclusion that I’ve arrived at after dissecting the literature and linking them to my past experiences. Especially for someone like me who very cautiously steps into new territory without exploring all the bad things that could happen to me first, exposure is key.
As I start to write my manuscript, my approach will to be present the literature, just as any good study, but also to make a case for future studies that include students in more formative years that are not close to graduation. There is a new and unique perspective that can be taken by younger Generation Y students that I want to bring attention to, as just with any generation prior, motivations and psychology may drastically be changing.
In the research process, is valuable to gain insight on the literature from another perspective. Just as it would have been helpful to get insight from students in the studies, having another interpretation of the literature adds another dimension to its understanding. As part of writing the manuscript, getting additional insight throughout the process will be a value way to achieve a conclusion that is agreeable and, more importantly, accurate.


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