I have a lovely author friend who writes about how to succeed at work now and in the future. Recently we were discussing life and writing and her new book* and she casually said two words that made me put my food down: upskill and reskill. And now I’m wondering how I lived so long without this phrase in my life. She explained it so eloquently as I feverously took notes circa 1999. [Remember the ‘there’s no handout’ kind of writing? Ah, the pen cramps we would get. All the loose-leaf paper we would buy…memories]
She defined it as:
Upskill: Take your existing level of expertise and widen it.
Reskill: Learn something different.
I can’t stop thinking about how this applies to pharmacists. What additional skills interest you? What additional training have you been thinking about for a while? This venture may or may not directly impact your current work situation, but it may be a futuristic pursuit. There are pharmacist moms in this group who are doing this very thing and posting about it: completing a pharmacogenomics course, MTM training, joining a new professional organization, and studying for board certification. Learning new skills in new environments offers advantages such as networking and diversifying our talent base. The goal is to reinvent ourselves by upscaling and rescaling our foundation.
Sandra Leal, PharmD, MPH, CDE, FAPhA is currently CEO of SinfoníaRx®, running as a candidate for president-elect of APhA, AND a fellow pharmacist mom. I met her in person a few years ago and she is honestly one of the most down-to-earth people I have met in this field. So let’s talk upskill and reskill. She pursued a Masters in Public Health as a personal goal. She told me, “I noted that helping people one to one was really impactful but I wanted to impact population health by addressing system issues and policy to address the repeating problems that every patient would walk in with. So many times we feel like we have to accept a broken system instead of feeling empowered to change it.”
Another pharmacist mom, Mitzi Wasik, PharmD, FAMCP, FCCP, BCPS is currently Senior Director, Patient Safety and Quality at Aetna and current president of AMCP, reflected on how she navigated this as her career shifted. She started with anticoagulation, diabetes, and immunization certificates early in her career when she was heavily involved in direct patient care, and she then pursued BCPS certification in order to stay competitive in the market as an ambulatory care pharmacist. She notes that these credentials led to a higher salary after a job change. What’s she doing right now? She told me, “Right now I am getting my MBA which is helping me from a business acumen perspective. My position is less clinical these days but I have to be able to walk and talk the business perspective of clinical programs to tie it all together.”
I know what you’re thinking. You don’t have time to pursue any new skills or another degree. At the end of the day, the last thing you want to do is interact with more people. You may feel that new talents wouldn’t be valued by your current organization.
Here’s my hypothesis about this group: you value this profession more than numbers and money. You value yourself more than any metric that attempts to define you. You want to upskill and reskill, but you’re not sure how and when and what.
Here’s what I know about this group: We have an advantage. We are used to squeezing in really important tasks into tiny pockets of time. We practically invented multitasking. (And yes, we agree with the research – it doesn’t work well). We juggle more in one hour than most people do in a week. Ok, that seems magnified but whether it’s real or exaggerated – it impacts our mindset on whether we should add something else to our plate. Upskilling and reskilling will no doubt force adjustments to our already full schedules.
Here’s the superheroic plan: For moms with littles and moms with teens and moms with olders; for any moms who have less than zero minutes to devote to something new: use this information as a jumpstart to think about what’s next. Take care of your babies. Take care of yourself. But during your commute and while you’re waiting in line and when you’re up at 3am – think about what you would do to upskill and reskill your career. Keep thinking about it, let it marinate in your mind, and remember Sandra Leal’s words of wisdom: “Don't put things off. There will never be a better time to invest in yourself than now and your family will be better for it.”