By: Linda Banares, PharmD, BCACP and Shane Desselle, PhD, FAPhA
Ten years ago as a new residency graduate, I (LB) was able to give 110% of myself to my position as a full-time assistant professor in the college of pharmacy. Since that time, life has taken turns including motherhood and family obligations which have taken me from the more “typical” full-time academic to a 0.1 FTE in the college and a part-time clinical pharmacist in other practice settings. My faculty responsibilities center around didactic teaching, student advising, resident mentoring, and committee work. Separate from my faculty appointment, I work part-time as a clinical ambulatory care pharmacist in anticoagulation, cardiovascular risk reduction, and refill authorization services. I also guest lecture for a physician assistant program and serve as an instructor for a California Advanced Practice Pharmacist certificate training course. Despite this untraditional mix and very modest faculty appointment, I have discovered that it is still possible to have an identity in academia.
Professional Identity in Pharmacy
Professional identity has been described broadly as the socially constructed identity of the profession.1 Acquiring professional identity involves development of a range of beliefs and attitudes,2 and in return it provides a sense of worth, belonging, and purpose. Professional identity is dynamic and adaptable, with it being reshaped individually and among colleagues, as experiences and perspectives shift.3
Forming professional identity in pharmacy can be challenging, and this starts at the student level. There is no standard definition for professional identity among pharmacists across all practice settings. On an individual level one must evaluate their own attitudes and beliefs to establish a personal sense of professional identity. It has been argued that a sense of self-identity is needed to fully leverage opportunities to express one’s roles.4
Developing Professional Identity as a Part-Time Faculty Member
These are strategies that I have found of value as a part-time faculty member, which have allowed me to re-capture some of the early zeal for this line of work despite limitations in the hours I have available to put into it.
- Leveraging opportunities for mentorship: I did not fully appreciate the concept of mentorship until having a mentor became a requirement within our college. One of many valuable things shared with me by my formal (appointed) mentor is to seek additional ones, not just for job tasks, but in what might be called “whole-life mentoring.” Seeking out these people and having frank discussions with them has helped me realize the value I bring to my workplaces and to the profession, regardless of my part-time status. It’s also helped me place into context the contributions that I and others bring to round out the educational and service missions of my academic institution.
- Initiating dialogue with multiple stakeholders: In addition to formal, or even informal mentoring, I have found initiating conversations with students, patients, and co-workers across settings to be consistently fulfilling. Students looking to the future remind me that clinical privileges allowing us to work at the top of our licenses are not to be taken for granted. Discussions with patients involve coalescing my clinical skills, sharpened by teaching and research, with experiences I’ve accrued outside the classroom or even while providing experiential education. Collaborative efforts to address a health care problem with non-academics help me empathize with where they are coming from while showing me how even those part-time hours as an academician provide me with alternative points of view that often expand their viewpoints as well.
- Reflect, reflect, reflect! The aforementioned mentoring sessions and discussions resonate with me even more when I take the time to reflect upon them. Reflective practice allows us to be more critical yet at the same time dig deeper to find value, improve self-efficacy, and provide reassurance of worth that often go missing when we think about things only at a surface or perfunctory level.
No matter our titles and division of work and life duties, if we are honest in self-reflection and evaluation and face our uncertainties by opening up to others, we will maintain a stronger sense of belonging and purpose. These realizations at the individual level can positively shape our own personal professional identity and further enhance our contributions to the profession, regardless of the type of appointment we have as faculty.
Beyond each individual, the academy would benefit from its scholars executing research in this area. Well-designed qualitative studies can help extricate overall dimensions and discern nuance to the concepts of identity and professionalization for part-time faculty. Additional studies, perhaps through survey research of larger, nationwide samples of part-time faculty can elicit current practices of reflection and self-development, as well as assess their stress, quality of work life, and commitment to academic life. Such data will help contribute to what is known currently about the vitality of the academy’s constituent members.
1. Trede F, Macklin R, Bridges D. Professional identity development: A review of the higher education literature. Studies Higher Educ. 2012; 37(3):365-384.
2. Dawodu P, Rutter P. How do pharmacists construct, facilitate, and consolidate their professional identity? Pharmacy. 2016;4(3):23.
3. Pottie K, Haydt S, Farrell B, et al. Pharmacist’s identity development within multidisciplinary primary health care teams in Ontario: Qualitative results from the IMPACT project. Res Social Adm Pharm 2009;5(4):319-26.
4. Gregory P, Austin Z. Lack of profession-hood: Professional identity formation and its implications for practice. Can Pharm J 2019;152(19):251-6.
Linda W. Banares, PharmD, BCACP, is an Assistant Professor of Clinical Sciences at Touro University California College of Pharmacy (TUCOP). Educational scholarship interests include student leadership training, ambulatory care practice management, and advancement of pharmacist practice initiatives. These interests are inspired by her faculty advisory role for TUCOP’s Phi Lambda Sigma Pharmacy Student Leadership Society, her clinical practice as an ambulatory care pharmacist at Kaiser Permanente, and her lecturer roles with the Physician Assistant Studies at Stanford University School of Medicine and the California Society of Health-System Pharmacists/TUCOP Advanced Practice Pharmacist Certificate Program. In her free time, Linda enjoys being a wife and parent of two children, serving in her church, and advocating for the special needs community her son is a part of.
Shane P. Desselle, PhD, FAPhA is Professor of Social and Behavioral Pharmacy at Touro University California. He is founding Editor-in-Chief of Research in Social and Administrative Pharmacy and Co-editor of Pharmacy Management, Essentials for All Settings, 5th ed, one of the most widely used pharmacy texts in the U.S. Professor Desselle won the AACP Sustained Contribution in Social Sciences Award in 2019 in recognition of his research, teaching, and service in pharmacy education. He conducts research in advancement of pharmacist roles for patient safety, creation of standards for pharmacist care of patients using complementary medicines, and professionalization of pharmacy technicians to advance the delegatory authority of pharmacists. In his free time, Shane enjoys sports (more watching than participating), fine dining, and snobby beers. Lest you believe he is a complete couch potato, he routinely goes to the gym and takes walks around his beautiful neighborhood in Sacramento.
Pulses is a scholarly blog supported by Currents in Pharmacy Teaching and Learning