Many things determine your pharmacy’s success. From a financial perspective, your pharmacy staying in the green is a telltale sign of success.
In a healthcare sense, you can gauge patient and customer satisfaction with the help of online surveys and even your pharmacy software skills.
But let’s take a closer look into the less tangible, unspoken elements of pharmacy work that turn good businesses into great ones.
Enter soft skills. There are some things you just can’t teach, and soft skills a perfect example of this. They are an invaluable tool in your pharmacy’s success. What’s more, it can even optimize your patients’ health journeys.
Read on to learn the what, how, and why of soft skills in your pharmacy.
Soft skills are personal attributes that enable someone to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people. They are skills that ensure a stable and copacetic workplace.
In the case of your pharmacy, stability and agreeability are hallmarks of an efficient workplace. This makes soft skills essential to running a successful pharmacy. You can get by with acceptable service and efficiency — but having that soft skills aficionado makes your pharmacy’s whole greater than the sum of its parts.
Now that we know what soft skills are, here are some specifics, some of which we’ll look into later.
While you may already know these traits are essential, it’s worth noting how they’re important to your pharmacy’s success. Let’s see what you should look for in new hires when it comes to soft skills.
Chances are you work at a retail pharmacy. It’s a wonderful but hectic combination of the breakneck pace of the retail realm and the precise attention to detail of the pharmacy world. In retail pharmacy, you’re expected to provide exceptional service with a smile.
That’s where the “effective communication” soft skill comes in clutch. A people person excels in patient interaction, giving a mix of courteous and straightforward communication.
Example: you’re talking to a patient regarding their prescription coverage. You inform them that their prescription requires prior authorization. They ask what it is (note: avoid using pharmacy lingo if you’re not defining it) and you clearly and concisely explain what it is and how long it takes to process.
Though the patient might be irked by the situation, at least you kindly and clearly explained it. A less efficient explanation can cause confusion and frustration to the patient. This soft skill de-escalated a situation before it ever had to, well, escalate.
A people person has soft skills that can transform your pharmacy’s success and your patients’ health, a reminder that you don’t need an amber vial to make a patient’s day.
Every workplace encounters conflicts, and a pharmacy is no exception. Whether it's a disagreement among team members or a dissatisfied customer, the ability to manage conflicts is a soft skill that can't be underestimated.
Consider a situation where a patient expresses dissatisfaction with the wait time for their prescription. A team member skilled in conflict management can defuse the tension, empathize with the patient, and provide reassurance. This not only resolves the immediate issue but also contributes to long-term customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Soft skills extend beyond verbal communication — they play a crucial role in fostering creativity. In the pharmacy world, creativity is all about finding innovative solutions to enhance patient care, from leveraging your pharmacy system to enhancing your workflow.
Let's say a patient faces challenges with medication adherence. A creative approach involves brainstorming personalized strategies such as pill organizers, reminder apps, or tailored medication schedules. Hiring someone with a creative mindset contributes to the development of patient-centric solutions that go beyond the pharmacy norm.
In the ever-changing pharmacy world, adaptability is a prized soft skill. Technology advances, new medications, and changing regulations demand a workforce that can seamlessly go with the flow.
We’ve all been there: your pharmacy experiences a drug shortage. What do you do? Time is of the essence, so promptly inform the patients who are affected about the situation.
If the shortage has no end in sight, contact your patient’s doctor to request a substitute or the same medication in a lower strength (with adjusted instructions). What matters is you adapt to the current situation and act swiftly and accordingly.
This adaptability not only ensures operational efficiency but also positions the pharmacy as a forward-thinking healthcare provider.
Soft skills are an invaluable asset to your pharmacy. Now let’s see how you can create a pharmacy staff jam-packed with soft skills.
As mentioned earlier, soft skills often come naturally. Superstar cashiers, waiters, and other retail workers have a natural talent for making their colleagues and customers feel at ease.
With that in mind, you might want to broaden your employment net. Sure, it’s usually preferable to hire someone with some pharmacy experience — hand-holding is something pharmacy managers can do without.
However, when you have someone with incredible soft skills, teaching them the pharmacy basics becomes a walk in the park. In the end, your new hire will start green but become a valuable asset for your pharmacy team and customer base.
Teaching a new hire the pharmacy basics is the easy part — teaching them soft skills is an uphill battle by comparison. Just ask Tiffany Capps in this clip from the Catalyst Pharmacy Podcast.
Teach what you can teach so you can strengthen your pharmacy team. Your staff, workflow, and patient base will be all the better for it.
As you reflect on the importance of soft skills in your pharmacy, remember that these intangible qualities are the threads weaving together the fabric of your success. From effective communication to creative problem-solving, each soft skill contributes to a pharmacy that not only survives but thrives in a competitive healthcare landscape.
So, as you build your pharmacy team, seek individuals with a strong foundation in soft skills. The dividends paid in patient satisfaction, team synergy, and overall success will be a testament to the enduring value of these often-underestimated qualities.
Continue to prioritize and cultivate soft skills within your pharmacy, and watch as your team transforms from a group of professionals into a cohesive force delivering excellence in patient care.