Lucinda is the Executive Vice President and CEO of the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP). She agreed to this interview for the Pharmacist Moms group and I think we can all agree – we can learn something from her. Thank you, Lucinda!
- The Pharmacist Moms Facebook group has over 30,000 members. Are you a part of this group?
I am (I think)!! I accidently joined FB several years ago after avoiding it for quite some time!! So I believe I joined but I’ll admit that I don’t participate very actively. Just too many communication channels in my work and I feel like I’m always behind!!
- You are well known in the pharmacy world, but for those who may not know a lot about you, please share a little bit about yourself and what’s one thing not too many people know about you.
I entered pharmacy after completing my BS in pharmacy degree 40 years ago in March 1980! After “accidentally” getting my PhD I set out on my quest to move the profession toward the visionary proclamations of some great mid-20th century pharmacy and health care leaders. People like Gloria and Don Francke, Bill Apple and others knew that pharmacy needed to change as medications became more sophisticated. I had learned that medication use, especially for my target population of the elderly, was pretty much a mess and only the unique knowledge and skills of pharmacy graduates could address it. There was a pretty significant practice reality gap between where we were in the early 80’s and today and we aren’t there yet but we ARE making progress.
My career has had essentially 2 dimensions – academia (7.5 years) and association management (10 at APhA and 17-plus at AACP). I have enormous respect for my pharmacy peers across the entire spectrum of practice. Everywhere pharmacists engage to improve the profession is important.
The one thing that many don’t know about me is my part-time position – I’m a United Methodist pastor’s wife! Second career for my ICU pharmacist husband Dan!! He went to seminary at age 52 and beginning in July of 2017 he began serving 2 small rural churches in Madison, VA, about 80 miles from our Arlington home.
- Did your children decide to follow your footsteps in pharmacy?
Dan and I adopted 2 sweet boys from Russia in 1997. Chris was 3 and Danny was 10 months old. They are now 26 and 23 (and still live at home!) Chris very much wanted to Go Army but that hasn’t worked out. He’s been working for veterinary clinics for 6-plus years but has begun to explore the trades. He’s not a college-guy! Danny aims to mix his passion for music with a career as a commercial pilot and is enrolled at Liberty University online to complete his aviation degree. Maybe he’ll fly for really famous musicians one day on their private jets!!
- When your children were growing up, what traditions did your family have?
I would say the most important tradition for our family relates to a vacation home we bought jointly with my brother in 1999. Our cousins owned it and decided to sell, and I was sure my brother was crazy when he said, “We need to buy the cottage.” Well we did and it became the place that both families could visit at the same time. Tom had 2 girls, one a bit older than Chris and the other the same age as Danny. If you ask the boys today where we should go for a vacation, there is only one answer! The Cottage!!
- I often say that there are “blurred lines” between working and parenting – has work/life integration always been a challenge for pharmacist moms?
I’m glad you use the phrase work life integration as that truly is what we want to achieve. As I reflect on my own pathway, I was well-established in my career at the point that I met my soulmate. After dating for 6 months at a distance we became engaged and will celebrate our 32nd wedding anniversary in November 2019. We’ve navigated career changes, geographic moves, the adoption process, and this is our third time where work has forced us to not live together fulltime.
I’ve been in administrative positions the entire time we’ve been married and for the last 17 I’ve been a CEO of a dynamic and growing association. Dan has steadfastly supported me in every element of life and actually took a very significant role in parenting Danny and Chris (home at the end of the school day, supervising homework, coaching sports teams). My integration involves a balance between family, work and church engagement. I consider that the 3 legs of my stool!
I realize that not every Pharmacist Mom can tell a similar story and the stresses of working while perhaps carrying a disproportionate part of parenting can feel overwhelming. Girlfriends that truly understand and always have your back are another really important part of the package.
- Lucinda, I desire a fulfilling career, I want to show my children that I am a successful working parent, and I want to be an involved mom – tell me I’m not crazy and everything will be ok.
You aren’t crazy! I can identify many women that have done just that. I also know women who sacrificed children and family in order to focus on their career. Good planning, both at work and at home, asking for (or buying) help for things like housework/projects, and not letting your kids get over-committed – we had a one sport per season rule. Don’t think you can do it all by yourself and stay grounded and healthy.
- Has the profession of pharmacy been a good career choice for women? Working moms?
There was a Harvard economist who studied professions several years ago and her research yielded a finding that pharmacy is the most “egalitarian” career for women, meaning that we do better at equal pay for equal work than most other fields. We have options – remaining in practice positions with or without management responsibilities, rising in leadership positions if we want. When there was the significant shortage many women had the opportunity to work less than fulltime and still have a good salary and benefits. Some of that has changed under current circumstances. Brad Tice, current APhA President, has launched what he calls the “gig economy for pharmacists” where he envisions hiring many pharmacists, likely working from home, to help health plans manage medication use and complex patients. This has the potential to open new avenues for pharmacy practice in the not too distant future.
- Our profession as a whole feels like it’s on the brink of change – has it always felt this way?
We’ve been talking about change forever and in many ways it has happened. Think about how pharmacists’ immunization work evolved from virtually no one administering even flu shots in the mid-90’s to it being mainstream practice today. Pharmacists in specialty practices like oncology, psychiatrics, and even ambulatory clinics was unheard of for the most part when I entered the profession.
Big profession-wide change has been harder to achieve. But health care is changing more than it has in decades, probably since the introduction of Medicare and Medicaid almost 60 years ago. Data analytics, quality measures and the fact that we can’t continue to spend so much on health care are moving us from volume to value. This is good for pharmacy and good for patients. It’s the quadruple aim and we offer solutions! We just need to identify the right business models to sustain our practice and that is what is uncertain and scary right now.
- How do you handle stressful situations?
I think my social and emotional intelligence quotient is pretty healthy so when stressed I try and stop and think. Typically, I’ll identify the right trusted colleague to think through the situation with me and work through the right next steps. Once I think I know the right approach the stress level decreases and that helps with execution. Occasionally I’ll let out a yell (not yelling at someone, just yelling outloud), but that doesn’t happen too often! It shakes my co-workers up when it does happen!!!
- What are some steps that Pharmacist Moms could take to help alleviate stress?
At a meeting I just attended I heard a keynote presentation by Bryan Stevenson, Author of Just Mercy. He is the founder of the Equal Justice Initiative and a crusader for criminal justice reform. He was powerful. One part of his message was the importance of maintaining hope and offering hope to others. Understand that I don’t wander into the Pharmacist Moms communications channels that often but some participants that do visit routinely comment often about the volume of negative posts. I don’t want anyone to think I’m not aware of how difficult the practice of pharmacy has become for so many. I wonder though if the intense negativity brings the whole community down rather than lifting them up. Likely my positivity at work!
- What would you say to Pharmacist Moms who are frustrated with their current work situation?
It would be ridiculous for me to answer with “change positions” because I recognize that the market is tight and a geographic relocation is often not an option for a family. I did participate in the July conference convened by APhA on pharmacist well-being where it became clear that there is a significant disconnect between frontline pharmacists and pharmacy management. I believe that pharmacists and their employers should recognize their co-dependence at this point in pharmacy’s efforts to change. I believe this will require more purposeful communication between frontline pharmacists and decision-makers in management.
I encourage people to define what they are passionate about in our profession. Mine was improving the health of elderly people, and while my current work doesn’t focus on this directly, indirectly everything I do aims to make it possible for pharmacists to participate on highly functional patient care teams that do have the potential to improve medication use, especially for seniors. Aligning our work with our passion is key. If someone can’t define something in pharmacy that they are passionate about it is perhaps time to use your knowledge and skills outside the profession.
- What would you say to Pharmacist Moms who feel little hope for the future of pharmacy?
Again, Bryan Stevenson says that hope is essential. It is hard to see the sunlight when you are at the bottom and I suspect too many in the profession feel that is where they are. I have a poem entitled “Trough” tacked to my bulletin board at work. I hope people can search for it online and sit quietly with it after taking a couple of deep breaths. It is about the only form of meditation I do routinely, but it really does help me, especially in times of stress.
- What are 3-5 key talents that community pharmacists should leverage when looking for a job change or different career track?
Strong patient and interprofessional relationships; the ability to delegate (assuming that all their tech time hasn’t been taken away); a passion for new (hopefully revenue generating) services. State laws and regulations are opening up many new options for direct patient care. Hopefully our collective efforts in practice transformation will make it realistic for pharmacists to expand their patient care services.
- What do you think about when you’re alone in the car?
I’m usually listening to NPR (Morning Edition and All Things Considered during drive time). I learn a lot from those programs. Lately, in the crazy political environment we are in, it has been harder and I’ve had to turn to a Christian music station to not get mad! All of this helps me think about my next stage of life, which I call “preferment” (this is an alternative to “retirement”!) I don’t have a time table at this point but 8 of my peers either have or will retire over a period of 18 months!! I see myself working to address some of the unmet social service needs that exist in our communities but it is still a work in progress!!
- Do you have a mantra and would you share it?
I draw from Micah 6:8 – What does the Lord require of me? To act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with God.
- What are your key professional strengths that you feel have contributed to your career success?
We use Strengths Finder at AACP and all the staff have their top 5 proudly displayed. Mine are:
- Relator – I value strong and persistent relationships
- Woo – “Winning Others Over” or never met a stranger
- Strategic – Essential for top leadership positions
- Input – I like to gather information/opinions/data for decision-making
- Positivity – I am optimistic to the core! Probably my greatest strength
- Who is someone who inspired you when you were a student and why?
I could go on forever on this one but I’ll pick one from undergrad and one from grad school. The year I was APhA-ASP national president Mary Munson Runge was the first female president of APhA. She was such a strong and passionate leader that she encouraged me and many others to remain active and strive for leadership positions in the profession. She appointed me to the APhA Task Force on Women in Pharmacy as I was finishing my first degree and national presidency. That was a highly influential experience for me!
In graduate school, I was so fortunate to be in a unique fellowship program that aimed to create pharmaceutical clinical scientists. A pediatrician and quality improvement guru, Paul Batalden, was the co-director of the program and my clinical advisor. Paul and Larry Weaver, MN dean, created my first post-PhD position and Paul remains an inspiration to me and so many for his work in continuous quality improvement in health care. He co-created the Institute for Healthcare Improvement with Don Berwick.
- What makes you excited about the future of pharmacy?
That there is such a commitment to accelerate practice transformation across every national association and most state organizations. If we all put our energy into this long-envisioned change in practice there will be new jobs that are fulfilling, health care will be more affordable and rational, and our patients and communities will be healthier. These are the messages we are driving out to consumers with our public awareness campaign called Pharmacists for Healthier Lives. Here’s the link to the homepage – https://pharmacistsforhealthierlives.org/
- What do you love about pharmacy/pharmacists/this profession?
I love pharmacists’ passion and potential! I love the fact that we have and bring solutions to some of the messiest patient care scenarios. I sincerely think the best is yet to come because when I started in pharmacy no one was willing to admit that medication use could cause problems if not managed properly. That has changed and this has and will open so many doors for us to step through!
- Any last piece of advice for our group?
Strive for balance. Give yourself some point in every day where you can be at peace (I wake up most workdays at 5 for a period of devotion, first cup of coffee, and some me-time for this purpose). Find ways to exercise if even just walking for 20 minutes a day; sitting is the new smoking! Cultivate healthy adult relationships. Participate in organized pharmacy activities to maintain a vibrant network of colleagues for support and motivation. Have fun! Be well!!
There is a trough in waves,
A low spot
Where horizon disappears
And only sky
Are our company.
And there we lose our way
We rest, knowing the wave will bring us
To its crest again.
There we may drown
If we let fear
Hold us within its grip and shake us
Side to side,
And leave us flailing, torn, disoriented.
But if we rest there
In the trough,
The low part of the wave,
Our energy and
Noticing the shape of things,
Then time alone
Will bring us to another
Where we can see
Horizon, see the land again,
Regain our sense
And where we need to swim.
— Judy Brown
Brooke L. Griffin, PharmD, BCACP
Superheroic: A blog for moms with a pharmacy twist