The value of versatility
Each day, Justin Bladecki finds himself benefitting from his breadth of experience.
I joined the Army National Guard while I was still in high school and deployed to Iraq at the end of 2004, the same year I graduated. Overseas, I served as a combat engineer and heavy equipment operator. One of the interesting things that I learned as an engineer in the National Guard was how much more versatile our unit was than our active duty counterparts.
In the military, everyone is trained to do a single job. What makes the National Guard unique is that everyone in the Guard is a citizen as well as a soldier. I was fresh out of high school, but the rest of my unit had civilian jobs. We had railway workers, electricians, plumbers, carpenters, police, and those in countless other jobs. Those all came with their own skill sets, and it allowed our unit to accomplish tasks outside of the confines of what the Army had trained us to do.
This was my first exposure to the value of versatility, and I have been thinking about it more often recently. You see, I never planned on being a pharmacist.
Make use of your talents
When I came back from Iraq, I attended Indiana University, where I majored in comparative literature. While there, I worked as a supervisor in a food court. As it turns out, I was honing skills that I would later make use of as a student pharmacist.
Leadership, communication, analytical reading and writing, and complex problem-solving were skills that I developed without ever considering pharmacy, but I use them every day as I pursue my PharmD degree. Whether it’s by stepping into leadership roles within organizations, putting together a care plan for a complex patient, answering medication information questions, or speaking out to advocate for the profession and advance policy, I find myself benefiting from my breadth of experience every day.
Each of you has your own unique backgrounds and hobbies. You have unique skillsets that are not inherently part of the pharmacy curriculum—but that doesn’t mean that you can’t make use of them. Pharmacy is an incredibly broad profession, and the PharmD degree can take you in many different directions. These extra skills, talents, and proficiencies have a lot more to offer than you might immediately give them credit for—even if it’s unlikely I will ever drive a bulldozer as a pharmacist.
Justin Bladecki is a third-year PharmD candidate at the Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science and is the 2019–20 Region 4 APhA–ASP Regional Delegate.