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Overcoming Perfectionism: 3 Essential Tips for Pharmacists

Pharmacist with patient

As a pharmacist, you shoulder a wide range of responsibilities in your role. From precise medication dosing to patient counseling, the margin for error is minimal. This high-stakes environment often spurs pharmacists to strive for perfection. While having high standards is important in the healthcare industry, being consumed by perfectionism can lead to several negative consequences such as self-doubt, excessive stress, unrealistic expectations, and burnout.

Recognizing the drawbacks of perfectionism and taking actionable steps to overcome it can help you find a healthier balance and foster better job satisfaction. Here are three practical tips to help you recover from perfectionism in your pharmacy career.

1. Embrace Imperfection

The pursuit of perfection often creates a debilitating fear of making mistakes. This can result in immense pressure and prevent you from taking necessary risks that can lead to valuable learning experiences.

Shift Your Perspective

Acknowledge that errors are an inherent part of the human experience, and pharmacists are not immune. The key lies not in avoiding mistakes entirely but in responding to them effectively. After all, everyone makes mistakes, and what matters most is how we learn and grow from them.

Set Realistic Goals

Challenge the perfectionistic standards that you have set for yourself. Ask if they are practically achievable and whether they contribute to your wellbeing and job satisfaction. Setting realistic, attainable goals can help alleviate the stress that accompanies perfectionism.

Practice Self-Compassion

When you make a mistake, instead of engaging in harsh self-criticism, treat yourself with understanding and kindness. Remember that everyone has off days, and it's okay not to get everything right all the time. Reflect on your achievements, strengths, and the progress you have made.

2. Prioritize Self-Care

In the pursuit of perfection, pharmacists often neglect their personal wellbeing. Prioritizing self-care is integral for preventing burnout and ensuring you can provide the best patient care.

Establish Boundaries

Learn to separate your personal and professional life effectively. While you are devoted to patient health, you should not compromise your wellbeing. Allocate time for hobbies, relaxation, and social activities that you enjoy. Use this time to refresh and recharge, which will be beneficial for you and the patients you serve.

Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle

Don't underestimate the power of maintaining a balanced diet, getting regular exercise, and ensuring sufficient sleep. These aspects serve as the pillars of your physical and mental health, directly influencing your energy levels, mood, and resilience in dealing with work-related stress.

Seek Social Support

Social connections can act as a lifeline while dealing with the pressures of perfectionism. Surround yourself with friends, family, or colleagues who understand your work stresses and can offer emotional support, encouragement, and a fresh perspective when necessary.

3. Cultivate a Growth Mindset Away from Perfectionism

A perfectionist mindset often leads to stagnation. The fear of failure and making mistakes discourages taking on challenges, limiting professional growth. Cultivating a growth mindset, however, can serve as a powerful antidote to the paralyzing effects of perfectionism.

Embrace Challenges

Recognize challenges not as obstacles but as opportunities for improving your skills and knowledge. Initially, stepping out of your comfort zone might seem daunting, but challenging situations often offer the most significant potential for growth and learning.

Focus on the Journey

Under a perfectionist lens, the outcome is the sole determinant of success. However, this lens often overlooks the effort and progress made along the way. Recognize and celebrate small victories and milestones, appreciating the perseverance and adaptability you showcase in the process.

Seek Constructive Feedback

View feedback from peers or superiors not as criticism but as valuable insights to guide your growth. Constructive feedback can highlight areas for improvement, helping you become better at your profession.

Perfectionism in pharmacy might seem beneficial initially, given the meticulous nature of the profession. However, a closer look often reveals it to be a barrier impeding true growth and fulfillment. By embracing imperfection, prioritizing self-care, and adopting a growth mindset, you can navigate away from the constraints of perfectionism and foster a balanced, satisfying work environment.

Remember, you're human too. And in the journey of providing excellent patient care, self-care and self-compassion go a long way. So take a step back, breathe, and remember that perfection is unattainable, but doing your best is what matters.


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