Rosana Steavenson, PharmD, BCPS, BCPP
Program Manager, Mental Health and Pain Clinical Pharmacy Programs
Mental Health Clinical Pharmacist Practitioner
South Texas Veterans Health Care System, San Antonio, TX

Dr. Rosana Steavenson completed her Bachelor of Science in 2010 and her Doctor of Pharmacy in 2012 from the University of Connecticut. She then accepted PGY1 pharmacy practice and PGY2 psychiatric pharmacy residency positions at the South Texas Veterans Health Care System in San Antonio, TX. She remained at the South Texas VA where in 2014 she began her career as an outpatient Mental Health Clinical Pharmacy Practitioner and in 2018 transitioned to the role of Program Manager for Mental Health and Pain Clinical Pharmacy Programs. Dr. Steavenson currently co-chairs the Veterans Integrated Services Network 17 Clinical Pharmacy Practice Council and the South Texas VA Mental Health Community of Practice. She was selected as a 2021 Board of Pharmacy Specialties Ambassador and has maintained active volunteership with AAPP.

You have your dream job! Why set another goal?

After many years of formal education and, for many pharmacists, post-graduate residency or fellowship training, it is ubiquitous to feel relieved and ready to slow down once a “real job” is secured. Even if you find yourself in what you think is a dream job, chances are it is both emotionally and intellectually challenging in ways you have not yet experienced. These challenges can contribute to burnout, which is a recognized issue facing healthcare providers, including pharmacists.1,2 Identifying goals can increase a sense of self-determination and aligns with the human desire for autonomy and need for competence.3 After celebrating important career milestones, it is necessary to take time to refresh and recharge, so you can clearly assess your values and begin to think about goals, especially as new opportunities become available.

How do values inform goals?

You are going to be pulled in many directions as a psychiatric pharmacist – patients, colleagues, and administrators will all need and want different things from you, seemingly at the same time! Sometimes it is going to feel like these parties have conflicting interests, and it will be difficult to discern which opportunities are worth pioneering, and how to balance career growth with your personal life. Identifying your key personal values will help you prioritize these demands, motivate effective action, and inform rewarding goals. If this is something you know you struggle with or would like to know more about, exploring principles of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy or resources by physician and psychotherapist Dr. Russ Harris may be helpful.4,5

When should you start?

Now! Even if you are not yet in the post-residency career phase, there is no time like the present to start practicing goal setting. Developing goals that are also values-based will improve your personal and professional satisfaction, and it takes skill and intention to do this effectively.

What types of professional goals are typical in non-academia settings?

Outside of academia, the organizational focus may be on daily task completion rather than providing formal structure in the way of professional goal setting. Precepting, research, quality improvement, professional organization involvement, and leadership opportunities will nonetheless present themselves. Incorporating these into your workflow and responsibilities will require introspection of your values and self-direction. Author Stephen Covey developed a method of goal setting based on an individual’s consciousness, mission, and principles. These inform the motivation behind “why” the goal is important and worthy of prioritizing.6,7 Below are examples of setting intentional goals within opportunities that may be available to psychiatric pharmacists, using the Covey method:


What (goal): Stay up-to-date with emerging literature and changing guidelines
Why (based on your value): Self-development – be the best psychiatric pharmacist, deliver evidence-based care to patients
How: Precept one trainee each academic year and incorporate journal clubs into learning experience


What (goal): Practice research and statistical skills
Why (based on your value): Challenge – learn and improve continuously
How: Principle investigator for resident research project once every three years


What (goal): Improve work-place experience
Why (based on your value): Supportiveness – be encouraging and helpful to myself and my team
How: Lead one quality-improvement initiative (plan-do-study-act) in my clinic each quarter

Professional organization involvement

What (goal): Volunteer for a non-profit organization
Why (based on your value): Contribution – to make a positive difference within psychiatric pharmacy
How: Sign-up for one AAPP opportunity each year

Leadership opportunity

What (goal): Be ready for a supervisor position in two years
Why (based on your value): Lead – lead and organize others
How: Become lead of a committee within next quarter and improve related facility metric

It is really important to note setting goals is not just about “what more” you can do. Consider thinking about cutting out activities that are incongruent with your values, do not bring you joy, or that will bring better balance, for example:

Mental health

What (goal): Feel less stressed at work
Why (based on your value): Self-care – to prioritize my needs and wellness
How: Do not accept more projects this year and consistently take two fifteen-minute breaks per day

Who might you share goals with?

It is established sharing goals with others, particularly those perceived as having higher status, makes it more likely one will be successful in achieving them.8 However, not everyone is comfortable with or desires to share personal and professional goals in realms where it is does not seem immediately relevant. Consider what feels right and true for you; family, friends, colleagues, mentors, and managers may offer support and validation in different realms. Your readiness to share your goals may facilitate greater commitment and likelihood of achievement.

What if you do not share the same goals as the organization you work for?

You will need to align some of your goals with the mission of your employer so, at a minimum, you maintain employment and more importantly, can find fulfillment in your work. For example, you may be assessed at the end of the year based on how many direct patient care contacts you had or how you contributed towards cost-savings. You may not be highly motivated by these metrics at face-value, though if you consider it highly valuable to increase patient access to psychiatric pharmacists, or reduce drug costs so another psychiatric pharmacist position can be obtained, you may find your actions can both meet your and the organization’s goals. If you are sincerely struggling to find a common-ground, it might be time to share your values-based goals with your supervisor even if you were reluctant to do so before. Remember the quote by Neil Barringham, “the grass is greener where you water it”, before looking for another opportunity with a different organization.

Professional growth – it is a journey!

Non-academia psychiatric pharmacy careers may have abstract milestones, which affords many opportunities, though can make professional goal-setting more difficult. Self-awareness is a skill that needs to be developed and practiced, since your life, work, and values will be in a state of constant evolution. This will support reflection of progress, establishment of boundaries, and resetting of new goals. Balancing ambition and wellness is key such that goals can be either about taking on new passions or finding better equilibrium during your journey.


  1. Jones GM, Roe NA, Louden L, Tubbs CR. Factors Associated With Burnout Among US Hospital Clinical Pharmacy Practitioners: Results of a Nationwide Pilot Survey. Hosp Pharm. 3rd ed. 2017;52(11):742- 751. DOI: 10.1177/0018578717732339. PubMed PMID: 29276254; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5735761.
  2. Kraus S, Gardner N, Jarosi N, McMath T, Gupta A, Mehta B. Assessment of burnout within a health-system pharmacy department. Am J Health Syst Pharm. 2020;77(10):781- 789. DOI: 10.1093/ajhp/zxaa042. PubMed PMID: 32298409.
  3. Bakker AB, van Woerkom M. Flow at Work: a Self-Determination Perspective. Occup Health Sci. 2nd ed. 2017;1(1-2):47- 65. DOI: 10.1007/s41542-017-0003-3.
  4. Acceptance and commitment therapy: Act Mindfully. Retrieved October 30, 2022, from
  5. The happiness trap: Extra bits - actmindfully. Retrieved October 30, 2022, from
  6. Covey, S. R., Merrill A. R., Merrill R. R. (1994). First Things First. New York, Free Press.
  7. Sinusoid, D. Stephen Covey: Goal setting is the path to Success. Shortform Books. Retrieved October 30, 2022, from
  8. Klein HJ, Lount RB, Park HM, Linford BJ. When goals are known: The effects of audience relative status on goal commitment and performance. J Appl Psychology. 2020;105(4):372- 389. DOI: 10.1037/apl0000441. PubMed PMID: 31414830.