“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”
Did you know there’s an oft-quoted statistic that 64% of features in a piece of software are never used? What a waste of both resources and potential, right? The IT field debates the accuracy of that percentage and who may be at fault. Regardless, we could all ask ourselves, about both our software and our career in general, “What am I wasting because I’m not effectively using what I already have?”
Working hard and putting in lots of time on the job is the traditional approach to achieving success in your career. But you might consider that in today’s knowledge economy, “learning hard” has become the equivalent. In this view, not stepping away from daily work to learn becomes a type of mental complacency with long-term effects just as harmful as not moving enough physically. In fact, people who work hard but don’t take regular time to learn may find their success undermined despite their hard work.
There are many ways to learn in the pharmacy industry: weekly newsletters, industry journals, blog posts, podcasts, and regular chats with peers. But choosing to take a day or a few away from the norm to travel somewhere else, to gather with new people and listen and talk about information, is compelling for reasons that aren’t easily replicated. Here are four reasons to attend a pharmacy conference:
1. It’s hard to improve without focusing: Although research says that multitasking is actually inefficient, most of us find it unavoidable. But how effective could trying to learn something new be if it’s squeezed into the daily hustle, or happens after hours when you clocked out for the day? Fully absorbing new information – making connections to prior knowledge, understanding ideas well enough to share them with others, using the new learning for creative problem-solving – is generally inhibited under rushed or stressed conditions. The focused time that’s unique to in-person events, such as a pharmacy conference, can address this stumbling point. A pharmacy conference can stimulate your mind and creativity in ways that you wouldn’t within your pharmacy walls, which leads to our next point...
2. You’ll be exposed to new ideas: We’re all guilty of doing something repeatedly and hoping for a different outcome. Humans are wired to seek out information that confirms our biases. However, meeting new people face-to-face and going to pharmacy conferences can provide the catalyst to make a change that gets us closer to a solution. For many of us, in-person learning sessions facilitate better understanding and recall than reading or even online sessions because we have access to more nuanced information. Communication is not only heard, but also seen and felt, in an in-person pharmacy conference.
3. You can share your newfound wisdom with your staff: One of the best ways to remember and understand new knowledge from a pharmacy conference is to teach it to other people. After attending a pharmacy conference, share with colleagues and staff any new tips that could be helpful for saving time, being more accurate, tapping new revenue, providing better patient care, and more. By stepping out of your pharmacy and attending a pharmacy conference, one person’s time away from pharmacy work could have a ripple effect that more than justifies the time investment.
4. It’s an antidote to worry about falling behind: The issue of work stress for pharmacists is so prominent that major pharmacy organizations have come together to push consensus recommendations for preventing burnout. A difficult business climate and uncertainty about the best ways to compete in it are major sources of workplace stress. But a recognized way to push back against stress is to take actions that make you feel more in control. Setting aside special time for pharmacy conferences is one way of exercising control. This brings us back around to the first reason to take time off to learn – it’s more effective when you’re less stressed.
You may or may not fully master a new skill at a pharmacy conference. A 45-minute presentation or roundtable discussion can be dense with helpful information. But your mind will take the first, all-important steps in the learning process. Attending pharmacy conferences will give you a framework, reinforced by the rich, new information, to which you can attach your learning. Off the heels of a pharmacy conference, you’ll return to work with the new perspectives that are almost unavoidable when you do something out of the norm. In the end, the only wrong way to learn is not to.