By: Ann Klemz, PharmD, BCPS
We all have different strengths. That is what makes the world such a beautiful, productive place. It is also what pushes teams to do their best work. It can be a difficult dynamic to navigate. It can be hard to leverage your strengths in some settings or to know how and where it is appropriate to use them. Learning to turn certain strengths up or down like a volume knob is a skill. We are all acutely aware of the things we do not do well enough but refocusing our energy sometimes on things that we do well or naturally can be refreshing.
Based on the work of Don Clifton and Tom Rath, StrengthsFinder 2.0 provides a quiz then lays out your top five personality strengths. The book further details different ways you can utilize those to your advantage. We were required to take this quiz and reflect on it at various points throughout pharmacy school. While a lot of my peers got strengths focused on academics like Achiever and Learner, my strengths focused more on relationships such as Empathy and Developer. Developer means helping others develop their skills and grow as pharmacists, students, and people.
For a long time, I envied my cohorts who were achievers and learners. I thought it indicated that I’m not interested in learning or achieving. But that is just not true. It just means my true spirit lies in helping others grow into themselves. I’ve come to terms with how I genuinely do enjoy working with incoming pharmacy students at my hospital and walking them through my thought process, showing them what they forgot to consider, and highlighting what they did right. I have developed a formal technician training program, which our hospital didn’t previously have. This is the crux of preceptor development as well as personal and professional growth. Since accepting this and turning around to utilize it when and where I can, colleagues have noticed my shift in mindset.
There are always things one strives to improve in their environment and themselves but sometimes it is nice to appreciate our natural talents. Remember instead what you bring to the table just by being yourself. Theoretically, these signature themes describe the core of what makes you YOU and won’t change [much] over time.
Pharmacy folk and healthcare folk in general tend towards relationship strengths. In fact, as Janke et al have shown, the relator domain is the strongest and most represented of the four domains within pharmacy students. Influencer was the least represented domain in pharmacy students. This lack of influence is shown directly in the lagging of the pharmacy field as compared to other healthcare fields that have chosen to stand up for themselves and stake their claim within healthcare. Pharmacy has come a LONG way in the last 30 years, but many still struggle with being seen as merely dispensers, particularly in retail. We have not advocated strongly enough for ourselves yet to obtain practitioner status. During an interview, Dr Janke stated her team’s current and future work includes team building with fair representation from all the domains within a team. As influencers are the scarcest, they may feel isolated and unheard. The unfortunate result may be silencing those in the best position to advocate to our field. If they feel isolated and unheard from within, how can we hope they are strong enough to advocate for our field elsewhere?
Gallup has published articles about strengths in different work arenas (healthcare, finance, etc.) but specifically I wonder what overlap different specific healthcare professions have. The intention behind Tom and Don’s work has been to demonstrate how any individual person may radiate the best person they are, regardless of field. Despite that, my deep-seated urge to categorize (hi, I’m a pharmacist) has pushed me into further studies asking more and more questions. Which similarities and which differences are highlighted amongst different groups of providers? Where do nurses excel and pharmacists lag? What do respiratory therapists or physician’s assistants have that draws them there instead of to pharmacy? We are all drawn to healthcare with an innate desire to help people feel better physically, mentally, and emotionally; how are we all the same and how are we different? Calling all influencing pharmacists and pharmacy related folks – PLEASE FIX EVERYTHING FOR US!! Kidding, not kidding.
Thank you to Tom and Don for all your research. Your dedication to this project has helped me and so many others find their true self. If you find this topic interesting, have questions, or would like to discuss further, please feel free to email me at Ann.M.Klemz@gmail.com.
Ann Klemz, PharmD, BCPS
1. Rath, Tom. StrengthsFinder 2.0. New York, Gallup Press, 2007.
2. Janke, et al. StrengthsFinder Signature Themes of Talent in Doctor of Pharmacy Students in Five Midwestern Pharmacy Schools. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, 25 May 2015; 79 (4) 49.
3. Janke, Kristin. Personal interview. 19 May 2019.
Interested in personal and professional development with a pharmacy twist? Have an idea for a guest blog post? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!