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Pharmacy and the Law of Compensation

When I sit down to write these articles, I typically try to write about a month’s worth at a time. Sometimes more, sometimes less. But as a rule of thumb, I try to work by the month. When I started working on articles in January, I knew I wanted to help ground our leadership with certain key principles. In my experience, core values are so important because that is how we differentiate ourselves from our competitors in the marketplace. There may be little difference to the scope of services offered at my pharmacy compared to the next, but there can be a world of difference as to how we deliver value to our patients and help them find success.

This brings me to looking at something called the Law of Compensation. The Law of Compensation states that you will be paid based on the demand for what you do, the skill involved with what you do, and the ease with which you can be replaced.

With many conversations of economic matters, we will discuss impact of supply and demand. And this law certainly addresses that. The demand for what you do and the ease there is to replace you are textbook demand and supply statements. But take note of the third criterion: the skill involved with what you do. This is an opportunity to differentiate yourself that should not be missed! 

There is a certain demand for entertainment, and there is a huge supply of talented entertainers. However, there are some who are so skilled they are compensated at astronomical rates. 

This points us to an important question for self-reflection and self-leadership. How skilled are we at what we do? Are you average or are you exceptional? How do you do know?

(I will just interject here that if you are a reader of Pharmacy U, you are exceptional. You have taken a tremendous step forward and given yourself an advantage over your colleagues who do not read Pharmacy U.)

In the state of Pennsylvania, we are required to complete a certain number of continuing education credits each year. If I do the minimum required, am I exceptional?  I would suggest no. At one point in my career, I took steps to become very skilled in the provision of immunization services, then I moved into quality and performance measurement, and now, I recognize that improving our skills as leaders is perhaps the most important skill that we develop for ourselves, our teams, our families, and the patients we serve. In fact, I will take this a giant step forward: we each have people depending on us to develop our leadership skills. We have people depending on us we haven’t even met yet. I don’t know about you, but when I think about things in this way, it gives me the extra nudge to push forward and learn these new skills.

Now also consider this in light of the Law of Compensation. As you increase your skill, what happens to the ease to replace you? It changes. It becomes much more difficult to replace you when your skills are increased. This of course shifts the supply and demand economic curve. 

Finally, consider this. Opportunities present themselves to us all the time. Someone told me once that so-called “once in a lifetime” opportunities come along about every two weeks. There are always opportunities that present themselves to us. The question becomes: Will we be ready for the opportunity? 


I am firm believer that when the pandemic hit in the spring of 2020, there was not an organization of any kind on planet Earth sitting around complaining of having too many leaders. There is a huge leadership deficit in the world today in every industry. You and I may not be able to fix the leadership in just any industry, but we can absolutely improve the leadership where we are right now! 

I have lost count as to how many articles are in this particular series, and the actual number means very little. What does matter is that you (yes, you) are encouraged and empowered to lead others well. Because everyone deserves to be led well.

Until next time -

Jesse McCullough, PharmD

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