Aug 14, 2017
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Hi all,

I am entering my P3 year in a PharmD program and I am unsure as to what are I would like to go into after school. I am enrolled in a dual degree program (MHS in Health Informatics), which basically explores the technology side of pharmacy. I also have personal interests in graphic design, mainly logos and animation. I have worked as a pharm tech for CVS and a local hospital and I do not think working in retail or hospital would be the best path for me. I am leaning towards pharma industry but I am not sure what function area would be the most appropriate where I can combine pharmacy, technology, and design. One pharmacists said I should look at healthcare marketing agencies or pursue a medical communications fellowship. I am just confused and unsure what I should do. I would greatly appreciate if anyone had any insight.

Thanks!
 

y0ssarian87

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Hi all,

I am entering my P3 year in a PharmD program and I am unsure as to what are I would like to go into after school. I am enrolled in a dual degree program (MHS in Health Informatics), which basically explores the technology side of pharmacy. I also have personal interests in graphic design, mainly logos and animation. I have worked as a pharm tech for CVS and a local hospital and I do not think working in retail or hospital would be the best path for me. I am leaning towards pharma industry but I am not sure what function area would be the most appropriate where I can combine pharmacy, technology, and design. One pharmacists said I should look at healthcare marketing agencies or pursue a medical communications fellowship. I am just confused and unsure what I should do. I would greatly appreciate if anyone had any insight.

Thanks!
Okay, granted, this is a total unicorn job, but check out this fellowship: https://tbcdn.talentbrew.com/company/410/Fall 2016 Brochure.pdf

Specifically, check out the "Clinical Innovation" position. I think that would be very much geared toward your interests. Pros: great company, neat program. Cons: where do you go after Lilly, especially if they don't hire you after the fellowship? Are there other companies that would find your background useful or would it just be confusing?

I think other options are in various business functions in industry (including marketing and commercial).

Consulting might offer a route to what you want as well. I could imagine a very unique role in consulting on implementation of pharmacy technology in pharmacies and health systems.

I think you're definitely going to have to look more at niche positions to find the blend you're looking for. And you might have to market yourself hard and possibly even create your own position to make that happen.

Perhaps I'm the overly cautious type, but try to have a back up as well. These are very unique positions...


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OP
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Aug 14, 2017
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Okay, granted, this is a total unicorn job, but check out this fellowship: https://tbcdn.talentbrew.com/company/410/Fall 2016 Brochure.pdf

Specifically, check out the "Clinical Innovation" position. I think that would be very much geared toward your interests. Pros: great company, neat program. Cons: where do you go after Lilly, especially if they don't hire you after the fellowship? Are there other companies that would find your background useful or would it just be confusing?

I think other options are in various business functions in industry (including marketing and commercial).

Consulting might offer a route to what you want as well. I could imagine a very unique role in consulting on implementation of pharmacy technology in pharmacies and health systems.

I think you're definitely going to have to look more at niche positions to find the blend you're looking for. And you might have to market yourself hard and possibly even create your own position to make that happen.

Perhaps I'm the overly cautious type, but try to have a back up as well. These are very unique positions...


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Thank you so much!. I really appreciate it. I am going to make sure I always have a back up plan. But I will be exploring other opportunities. One PharmD mentioned that I should look at start up companies and try to land an entry level position, rather than pursuing a fellowship. Do you think that would be a good idea as well?
 
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Out of curiosity, why are you straying away from informatics -- is it solely to pursue other interests? I hear pharmacy informatics is a good gig, for now at least.
 
OP
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Out of curiosity, why are you straying away from informatics -- is it solely to pursue other interests? I hear pharmacy informatics is a good gig, for now at least.
I am not straying away from it. I want to be able to incorporate some of the informatics knowledge into a career, even if later down the line. From what I have noticed, most informatics career options deal with CPOE systems in hospitals or automated dispensing cabinets. There even may be some jobs in the pharmacy database sector. I just do not really see my personality as a perfect fit for these particular roles. Thats all. But if there is another way to incorporate the tech side and creative aspect (kind of developing a creative and informative pharmacy app), then thats more so what I am interested in.
 
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Slippers

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I know that you can apply for fellowships if you are interested in the pharmaceutical industry, but I honestly don't know much beyond that. I would research different fellowships that are available, and see if there are any that align with your interests. I definitely feel that graphic design and logo design would likely be of the most use in the marketing area. As far as developing phone apps goes, I have seen computer science majors work on something like this as a capstone project. Do you have any experience with coding or computer programming?
What you're looking for seems to be very specific. Industry is also a bit of a non-traditional direction for pharmacy. I'm not sure you will be able to find an "official training program" that incorporates exactly what you want, although you may find a close match. Follow your passion, motivation in your work makes for better results!
 
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I know that you can apply for fellowships if you are interested in the pharmaceutical industry, but I honestly don't know much beyond that. I would research different fellowships that are available, and see if there are any that align with your interests. I definitely feel that graphic design and logo design would likely be of the most use in the marketing area. As far as developing phone apps goes, I have seen computer science majors work on something like this as a capstone project. Do you have any experience with coding or computer programming?
What you're looking for seems to be very specific. Industry is also a bit of a non-traditional direction for pharmacy. I'm not sure you will be able to find an "official training program" that incorporates exactly what you want, although you may find a close match. Follow your passion, motivation in your work makes for better results!
Thank you ! I appreciate your insight.

I do have a little experience with coding. I have taught myself HTML and Javascript. I am currently learning SQL in school.

But you're absolutely right. I have to follow my passion. My goal is to wake up and not dread going to work and to actually enjoy my career.
 

WVUPharm2007

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You have to be really creative in coming up with ways to not sound like a snake oil selling huckster when making sales calls...er, I mean, CLINICAL PCQ calls while working at CVS. You quickly learn to produce the finest in artisan cognitive dissonance. You become more of an existential creative.
 
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I am not straying away from it. I want to be able to incorporate some of the informatics knowledge into a career, even if later down the line. From what I have noticed, most informatics career options deal with CPOE systems in hospitals or automated dispensing cabinets. There even may be some jobs in the pharmacy database sector. I just do not really see my personality as a perfect fit for these particular roles. Thats all. But if there is another way to incorporate the tech side and creative aspect (kind of developing a creative and informative pharmacy app), then thats more so what I am interested in.
There are two pharmacy app/software start-ups in my area run by pharmacist entrepreneurs. I definitely believe you can find your place in the industry, however, it will not be as direct or as straightforward as retail. You will need to take risks to find your perfect match. Good luck OP.
 

y0ssarian87

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Thank you so much!. I really appreciate it. I am going to make sure I always have a back up plan. But I will be exploring other opportunities. One PharmD mentioned that I should look at start up companies and try to land an entry level position, rather than pursuing a fellowship. Do you think that would be a good idea as well?
I'd be disinclined to support that, but I'm a recent grad and know nothing about this route you're pursuing. I'm reluctant to support that path for a number of reasons: (1) you've trained for a PharmD and your new employer views your skills as entry level? I'd be wary of employers who don't value the worth of their employees. (2) Start-ups fail all the time. What's your back up if this goes under? What network do you have to fall back on? (3) Would your plan to be to move vertically in the company or to move to another company? Hard to convince another company you're worth more than your previous entry-level position. Hard to move up if the start up is slow to grow. Would you stick around for several years in that entry-level role?

But if it's something you believe will be a success with good leadership and with growth potential, sure. Personally, that's too much for me to gamble on.
 

yungnaira

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That Clinical Innovation Lilly fellowship is the furthest thing from graphic design. Think more lab/robotics incubator environment

To OP, you can consider the medical communications route, strategic marketing or advertising/promotion.

There is huge demand for data scientists esp in research/drug development, maybe your informatics degree would help with that
 
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y0ssarian87

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That Clinical Innovation Lilly fellowship is the furthest thing from graphic design. Think more lab/robotics incubator environment

To OP, you can consider the medical communications route, strategic marketing or advertising/promotion.

There is huge demand for data scientists esp in research/drug development, maybe your informatics degree would help with that
Yes, this is absolutely true, OP. The clinical innovation fellowship doesn't really have any graphic design component. I don't think there's a realistic way to incorporate the graphic design interest unless you're running your own operation and do graphic design work for your own business needs. But the clinical innovation fellowship does seek to find novel ways to improve and innovate patient engagement in clinical trials. There *may* be portions of this that deal with incorporating new technologies into clinical trial design, and user experience and user interface design *may* play a role in that. But as yungnaira mentioned, don't expect design to play a core part of the fellowship.
 
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lord999

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I think you are somewhat in the wrong profession for this sort of creative expression if you want it for a vocation (in some ways, it is considered a negative to be creative in this business considering the process orientation). As an avocation, pharmacy has historically been a gateway to the better life in terms of leaving you enough time to do what you want and having enough money to not worry about taking major time off. You can basically work as a pharmacist on a half-time basis, pursue some avocation on a full time basis, and come out ahead over the creative careers.

Informatics (at least what I've dealt with) does not easily keep creative types either as this is process engineering and coordination. Research "can" be that sort of outlet, but in practice, the drudgery of the laboratory (or even worse, running the laboratory) make the times that you can be creative seem like an afterthought.

There's a couple of portrait artists out there who were pharmacists in their previous lives and had their avocations take over their pharmacy vocation (and they willingly took the paycut not to do pharmacy work). Consider doing that sort of pursuit and seeing where it goes. In the attachment, I have a reading for my class about this issue, and it's pretty clear that there is a choice, and there is no right one here. The entire book is quite interesting in how to balance those matters.
 

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Ph4rmacistJ

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My calculus teacher once said in regards to creativity in the medical profession:

"Being creative with people's lives is like saying, 'I think I'm going to be creative today and give the patient an IV just cause it's fabulous"
 
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farmadiazepine

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Pharmacy is a straight job. No creativity.

You want to be "creative"? Work in ER, or psychiatry. Those 2 are kind of like the wild west sometimes, some shotgun approaches. That's the best answer I can give you. Even with those 3, it's pretty straight forward.
 

Jbrl

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If you're looking for something that combines all 3 of the parameters you described, I can think of a few things, which have been described in some form already:

  • Marketing and advertising: Fellowships or Full-Time. Probably the best fit for you. Brings together a lot of elements of design. Intermingle science with business. Digital innovation included. Making logos too.
    • Agency
    • Industry: Biopharma & CPG (more creative than biopharma, less regulatory barriers so closer to traditional marketing/advertising)
    • High tech: think Flatiron Health, 23andMe, Maven (innovation of EHRs, big data, etc)
  • Medical communications: "" #1, except as the name suggests, more medically oriented.
  • Market access: Fellowship probably needed. Particularly of interest might be specialty pharmacy or hospital-facing Market Access, which often have elements of needs assessment and implementation on the ground level (i.e. hospitals, pharmacies) to inform reimbursement and patient strategy
  • Tech consulting: NOT "consultant pharmacy," which is geriatrics, but moreso health systems operations and strategy consulting as yossarian described. Think Accenture, Deloitte, Navigant, Huron. Consultants deal with design all the time (i.e. you'll be making lots of PPT decks), and you'll stay close to healthcare.
 
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Sparda29

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The most creative I've ever been in pharmacy is probably when making banana bags or when making sodium bicarb IVs.

With the banana bags, I'd just squeeze the bag a certain way while adding the multivitamins so the yellow coloring swirls as it fills up the bag, lmao.

Or ****ing around with different connectors, different needles and syringes to maximize the flow rate when making the bicarb bags. For a good amount of time, the pharmacy director was buying syringes with needles already attached, except they were being sent with 20 gauge needles.

There is also creativity involved in compounding pharmacy. Not for products being actually dispensed to the customer.

You can be creative in trying to figure out new compounds or new ways of doing compounds, recording what you did, and presenting that to prescribers afterwards to see if they would like to prescribe that compound.

(Example: we used to get separate scripts for diclofenac 3% gel and lidocaine 5% ointment from the pain management docs. I experimented a bit to figure out how to get the ointment and gel to mix well together and then we asked the doctor if they wanted to prescribe a compound of that instead of sending two separate scripts. (benefit would be you get paid a larger fee for compounding).
 

gwarm01

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  • Tech consulting: NOT "consultant pharmacy," which is geriatrics, but moreso health systems operations and strategy consulting as yossarian described. Think Accenture, Deloitte, Navigant, Huron. Consultants deal with design all the time (i.e. you'll be making lots of PPT decks), and you'll stay close to healthcare.
Come to think of it, I did get a lot of compliments for a power point I made for my group last week. It's all about picking the right template.
 
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OP
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Industry: Biopharma & CPG (more creative than biopharma, less regulatory barriers so closer to traditional marketing/advertising)
What exactly does CPG stand for?

And I appreciate your entire post. Thank you.
 
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Jbrl

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What exactly does CPG stand for?
Consumer packaged goods. Think Procter & Gamble and Johnson & Johnson Consumer Division (Listerine et al).

I do think there should be a stickied thread for non-traditional opportunities. Seems this question crops up pretty frequently around here.
 
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Consumer packaged goods. Think Procter & Gamble and Johnson & Johnson Consumer Division (Listerine et al).

I do think there should be a stickied thread for non-traditional opportunities. Seems this question crops up pretty frequently around here.
I agree. I know many students who feel like they don't like retail and might not fit into the direct clinical roles. Many students might have entered pharmacy school thinking they wanted to do one thing. But over the span of 4 or 6 years, people learn more about themselves and their interests change. However, in this day and age, it would be an incredible risk to drop out and owe loans in order to pursue something else. So many of us search for a career path that isn't traditional and would help us be happy later in life.
 

Jbrl

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I agree. I know many students who feel like they don't like retail and might not fit into the direct clinical roles. Many students might have entered pharmacy school thinking they wanted to do one thing. But over the span of 4 or 6 years, people learn more about themselves and their interests change. However, in this day and age, it would be an incredible risk to drop out and owe loans in order to pursue something else. So many of us search for a career path that isn't traditional and would help us be happy later in life.
At the risk of self-indulgence I will quote a post I wrote some time back, as I truly feel it applies to the majority of people looking to 'break out' of pharmacy who feel unable to.
I think people tend to undervalue the merits of their PharmD, and if they were to look around, they'd find that breaking out is easier than they think. You have a medical doctorate in a sea of bachelors and masters degree graduates. There would be many firms that would at least take a look at you if you were to present your resume in the right way and build up a requisite skillset on the side.

A primary barrier to doing this is information assymmetry. It's hard to know what you don't know, and if someone or something were to clue you in on how to look and how to prepare it becomes much easier.

Case in point: I worked for a grocery store manager in his mid-50s who had never worked outside retail. For all intents and purposes, his career was in twilight. When the pharmacy chain closed, he was beside himself because he didn't find another pharmacy willing to hire him, especially in the tri-state's saturated market. He asked around for advice from people who knew and deep dove all the resources he could about reconfiguring his resume/cover letter, contacting people, etc and landed a job in a small pharma company doing clinical trial development (recently had his one year anniversary there). If he can do it, so can anyone else.

Another case: I knew another pharmacist who was fed up with working in retail. What he did was look at pages like these: BioPharmGuy - The Best Biotech Company Directoryand these: Clinical Research Companies - Worldwide, looked at job requirements and responsibilities, tailored his activities outside work (volunteering) and modified his resume accordingly to fit job specifications. Then, he drew up an Excel sheet and hammered away, eventually joining a CRO.

I just want to put this out there for those who are looking desperately, in case it helps or encourages. Find resources that will point you to the right direction, and be determined to search high and low for openings - easier said than done, but certainly reasonable and definitely possible. People may say these stories aren't the norm - and they aren't - though I argue that it's not for lack of ability, but for lack of information.
In essence - you can do it! You are not limited by your degree, but by the blood, sweat and tears you are willing to stake to find your place.
 
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OP
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At the risk of self-indulgence I will quote a post I wrote some time back, as I truly feel it applies to the majority of people looking to 'break out' of pharmacy who feel unable to.

In essence - you can do it! You are not limited by your degree, but by the blood, sweat and tears you are willing to stake to find your place.
Wow. That was great. Thank you so much!
 

yungnaira

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100% agree with Jbrl. Breaking out is this simply put..

"looked at job requirements and responsibilities, tailored his activities outside work (volunteering) and modified his resume accordingly to fit job specifications."

.. for those looking to breakout. I'm currently doing drug development research in academia working prior auths on the side
 
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Apotheker2015

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I am not straying away from it. I want to be able to incorporate some of the informatics knowledge into a career, even if later down the line. From what I have noticed, most informatics career options deal with CPOE systems in hospitals or automated dispensing cabinets. There even may be some jobs in the pharmacy database sector. I just do not really see my personality as a perfect fit for these particular roles. Thats all. But if there is another way to incorporate the tech side and creative aspect (kind of developing a creative and informative pharmacy app), then thats more so what I am interested in.
OP is a "builder" and not a "maintainer". Has the creative gene and the second there is nothing to fix or revamp, OP will be bored and it will be downhill from there. And that's where "maintainers" come in - worker bees- like us. OP builds and we maintain. There's nothing wrong with either one.
 

lord999

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OP is a "builder" and not a "maintainer". Has the creative gene and the second there is nothing to fix or revamp, OP will be bored and it will be downhill from there. And that's where "maintainers" come in - worker bees- like us. OP builds and we maintain. There's nothing wrong with either one.
Actually, there is a major matter from a development perspective. This isn't representative art, where a objet d'art is solely represented as its own. This is building something that lasts, and certain jobs prioritize the one object and certain jobs prioritize the ones that endure. Consulting and those sorts of career fields are one offs, but industry and marketing (where graphic design usually lies) require a sense of perspective . In the creative and the IT industry, you never offer permanent jobs to the people who make those one-off objects. Those people are contractors. You keep in-house the personnel who are the judges for those objects and where they fit in the company's system and community.

So with toys or logos and other one-off creative efforts, that's why those companies like advertising agencies have to compete for accounts. Those designs are not necessarily designed for a system, so they have to compete on that level for the company to judge which one of the one-offs would integrate best into the company strategy.

Here's the problem. You can have artistic freedom to design whatever you want, but if you can't sell your vision to anyone else, good luck eating (and most of those types who have problems sell something else). Or, you can subordinate your artistic freedom to a corporate model and work with your fellows, and then in exchange for that subordination (which is a devil's bargain), you get the safety of thanks every two weeks without having the stress of selling a vision as someone is paying you to make their vision happen.

At the extremes, you can't design in a vacuum, and you can't design in a crammed place. In general, the sorts of designers who are one-offs and don't think about how things integrate in the system, no one wants to hire in informatics even in a consulting role. But those that are totally subordinated to their work never think beyond what could be as opposed to what their work wants this piece to be and are completely useless outside of their element. The best sort of creator in the informatics business (and this is true about finance) is the ability to understand the company dynamic yet be able to propose individualistic solutions while retaining the ability to sell.

Again, this is given with the idea that someone should pay you for your creative effort. There's nothing against having a completely free expression when it is for art itself. Cooking is like that for me, but I don't earn a living off it for a reason as I don't want to compromise my vision. Creative work in analytics and policy though, there are days when I forget where I end and the company begins (which is not a good thing).
 
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Apotheker2015

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Actually, there is a major matter from a development perspective. This isn't representative art, where a objet d'art is solely represented as its own. This is building something that lasts, and certain jobs prioritize the one object and certain jobs prioritize the ones that endure. Consulting and those sorts of career fields are one offs, but industry and marketing (where graphic design usually lies) require a sense of perspective . In the creative and the IT industry, you never offer permanent jobs to the people who make those one-off objects. Those people are contractors. You keep in-house the personnel who are the judges for those objects and where they fit in the company's system and community.

So with toys or logos and other one-off creative efforts, that's why those companies like advertising agencies have to compete for accounts. Those designs are not necessarily designed for a system, so they have to compete on that level for the company to judge which one of the one-offs would integrate best into the company strategy.

Here's the problem. You can have artistic freedom to design whatever you want, but if you can't sell your vision to anyone else, good luck eating (and most of those types who have problems sell something else). Or, you can subordinate your artistic freedom to a corporate model and work with your fellows, and then in exchange for that subordination (which is a devil's bargain), you get the safety of thanks every two weeks without having the stress of selling a vision as someone is paying you to make their vision happen.

At the extremes, you can't design in a vacuum, and you can't design in a crammed place. In general, the sorts of designers who are one-offs and don't think about how things integrate in the system, no one wants to hire in informatics even in a consulting role. But those that are totally subordinated to their work never think beyond what could be as opposed to what their work wants this piece to be and are completely useless outside of their element. The best sort of creator in the informatics business (and this is true about finance) is the ability to understand the company dynamic yet be able to propose individualistic solutions while retaining the ability to sell.

Again, this is given with the idea that someone should pay you for your creative effort. There's nothing against having a completely free expression when it is for art itself. Cooking is like that for me, but I don't earn a living off it for a reason as I don't want to compromise my vision. Creative work in analytics and policy though, there are days when I forget where I end and the company begins (which is not a good thing).
Very respectfully, what I said was all tongue-n-cheek. I might have been talking about myself. How am I going to get through the next 17 years? LOL.
 
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lord999

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Very respectfully, what I said was all tongue-n-cheek. I might have been talking about myself. How am I going to get through the next 17 years? LOL.
You do so by figuring out what those 17 years of selling out enable you to do. That's why I work, even though my household can afford not to (my wife always pays more in taxes than my income, and this year due to a contingency case payout will make more at take-home than I have made combined in gross since 16). I will never entertain a position where I do not work, because I never want to be in a position where I could ask myself whether or not the reason I make my wife happy is because I want to or because I need to (as getting cutoff with alimony as a house husband would be a reduced standard of living but I want my relationship to have some sense of purity even as a flawed individual). You may comment negatively on what a screwed-up marriage I live in if I could even contemplate that, but there is that underlying question with trophy spouses who do not contribute to the household for me. I like my wife a little too much for that question, so I still deal with the insanity because I can answer that question with certainty while I still work.

I don't care what the reason is:
"Because I like the money"
"Because my wife likes the money"
"Because my children will have a better future than me in this stupid job"
"Because I like travel"
"Because I like something that is marginally legal"

, you do need to have some underlying motivation that you can remind yourself of when work goes bad. It doesn't have to be for passion, but work does need to be for something.

What I'm curious about is when we have FU money (and we have that by pharmacist standards), would we walk away from working? The experience that I see in others is no, even though they really and easily could. Work does define their lives to some extent, why quit while you're ahead? It's debated whether or not that's an essentially healthy behavior to have work ethic when your dollars could be given to someone else who could have more utility with them, but it's hard to change when doing your work is what made you successful to this point already. That's what I find disturbing, that doing what is ostensibly the right thing out of context can be a pathology in itself when you do have the context.
 
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Apotheker2015

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You do so by figuring out what those 17 years of selling out enable you to do. That's why I work, even though my household can afford not to (my wife always pays more in taxes than my income, and this year due to a contingency case payout will make more at take-home than I have made combined in gross since 16). I will never entertain a position where I do not work, because I never want to be in a position where I could ask myself whether or not the reason I make my wife happy is because I want to or because I need to (as getting cutoff with alimony as a house husband would be a reduced standard of living but I want my relationship to have some sense of purity even as a flawed individual). You may comment negatively on what a screwed-up marriage I live in if I could even contemplate that, but there is that underlying question with trophy spouses who do not contribute to the household for me. I like my wife a little too much for that question, so I still deal with the insanity because I can answer that question with certainty while I still work.

I don't care what the reason is:
"Because I like the money"
"Because my wife likes the money"
"Because my children will have a better future than me in this stupid job"
"Because I like travel"
"Because I like something that is marginally legal"

, you do need to have some underlying motivation that you can remind yourself of when work goes bad. It doesn't have to be for passion, but work does need to be for something.

What I'm curious about is when we have FU money (and we have that by pharmacist standards), would we walk away from working? The experience that I see in others is no, even though they really and easily could. Work does define their lives to some extent, why quit while you're ahead? It's debated whether or not that's an essentially healthy behavior to have work ethic when your dollars could be given to someone else who could have more utility with them, but it's hard to change when doing your work is what made you successful to this point already. That's what I find disturbing, that doing what is ostensibly the right thing out of context can be a pathology in itself when you do have the context.
Yikes, like I said I was just passing by. Didn't read the first response or second. OP will figure something out. We all do, eventually.
 
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