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Letter to the Editor: New York Times

The Pharmacist Moms Group is comprised of 32,000+ women pharmacists in the United States, the largest in the country.  The group works to advocate for women in the pharmacy profession. As founder of Pharmacist Moms, I support the views expressed in the recent New York Times article written by Ellen Gabler and stand behind it.

We strongly feel that patient safety may be compromised due to the overly stressful working conditions at chain pharmacies. Pharmacists work in difficult and demanding conditions and are often unable to voice concerns over patient safety. In an effort to support full transparency, we are asking chain pharmacies to publish all of their metrics for calculating pharmacist and technician hours and ultimately error rates. We also encourage pharmacies to publish how many prescriptions are filled each month and how much staff they have so that patients can make an informed decision as to which pharmacies provide adequate staffing to suit their needs.

In addition, the larger issue that must be explored is the fees pharmacies are paying PBMs. The PBMs are ultimately putting patients at risk. Pharmacists need to be paid when they render a service rather than for dispensing medication.

Pharmacist Moms has reached out to CVS and other chain pharmacies on multiple occasions over the past year, simply asking them to provide a stool for all pregnant pharmacists, who often work 12-hour shifts (standing and without a break), and we have not yet received any response.*  Many other pharmacy chains do not provide a place for pregnant women to sit or for nursing women to breastfeed and have yet to respond to the needs of our 32,000+ women pharmacists.

In 2020, this is simply unacceptable.

*exception HyVee Pharmacy

Pharmacy Ownership: Today and Tomorrow?

The last thing on your mind when you open or take ownership of a pharmacy is, “What do I do when I want to get out of ownership?” This doesn’t have to be your first thought, but it shouldn’t be your last! This thought process is known as succession planning.  Let’s explore this…

A large number of pharmacists never put much thought into their succession plan. Most of them run their pharmacy on a day-to-day, year-to-year basis. This is fine, but not thinking about your exit strategy can lead to a lot of frustration and headaches down the road.

To get started with your own succession plan, simply about where you want to be this time next year. Now, what about five years? Do you still see yourself owning and running your pharmacy in ten years? What happens not if, but when, things change? More competition changes in regulation/ reimbursements, your health? As you think through your potential timeline, consider those unexpected changes. Once you find a time where you don’t see yourself as an owner, you can start planning backward from there.

Now that you have an idea of when you want to get out of the ownership, how do you see this happening? Do you want a complete sale or did you picture it as a slow earn-in arrangement or buy-out situation?

Most pharmacists end up doing a complete sale. The pharmacists that don’t thoughtfully plan their exit usually end up getting underpaid for their business. Those who do not have a succession can fall victim to a quick and or emotional, situational decision, and they want out now! This leads to making hasty and often ill-informed decisions. As we have all heard before, it usually is better to do it the right way, instead of right now. 

When it comes to a buy-out arrangement, this is often done by a partner or family member that also works for the pharmacy. These arrangements are usually drawn out over several years. Keep this in mind when planning your future – especially in the case of junior partnerships. Also, keep in mind that these deals can change or fall through at any moment. Don’t let this frustrate you and make you jump at the first sight of freedom and make a business decision. You will need to build this possibility into your succession plan. If things change and your plan falls through, what options remain? 

Next, of course, you want to make sure you have the correct value of your pharmacy. There is no “one size fits all” formula when it comes to the valuation of your pharmacy. Many different factors can affect the price of your pharmacy, some don’t even directly pertain to your business.

  • How are the community and population trending?
  • Does your area see growth? 
  • How many pharmacies are in the area?

If you do decide to cash-out and sell your pharmacy, get perspective from industry advisors. There are many groups that can help with the process and valuations: banks who know pharmacy, wholesaler transition groups, CPAS, etc. These groups will take these mentioned factors, and many others, and give you an average market price on your pharmacy.

Another time-consuming aspect that needs to be taken into consideration when selling is finding a buyer. Do you want to sell your business to another independent pharmacist or do you want to go with the big-name chain pharmacy? What does that choice mean for you, your employees, your community? Depending on your choice, it can take as little as a couple of weeks to find a buyer, or it can take years. This long stretch of searching, when you want out, can lead business owners to sell when the first offer comes their way. Make sure to give yourself adequate time to find a buyer that is willing to transfer ownership the way you’d like, while paying a competitive price for the business.

At this point, you should have a rough idea of how and when to start planning your exit strategy. Succession plans can be as flexible as you need them to be. If you change your mind, or things change and you want to move on sooner, you simply take your end plan and move the time frame forward. The same can be done if you want to remain an owner longer than you originally thought you would. 

As long as you have a plan, don’t get emotional or rush the process, and communicate well-you can set yourself, your staff, and patients up for a smooth transition.

If you or someone you know is interested in expanding, buying into, or opening their own private pharmacy, please contact First Financial Bank Pharmacy Lending team. With 80 years of combined pharmacy experience and a staff of current and former pharmacy owners, we know what it takes to run a pharmacy. You can Like/Follow us on social media @PharmacyLender or visit our website, www.ffb1.com/loans/pharmacy-loans/  to find more info resources. 

Career and Mom Talk: Meet Suzanne!

Hello RxMoms!  I was very honored to interview Suzanne Feeney, who is a member of our group. Read on to hear her interesting career journey. She has a free trial offer for you and will be at the APhA meeting (go to her booth!). Connect with Suzanne and take advantage of her resources.

Know a pharmacy mom I should interview next? Email me: be.superheroic@gmail.com

  1. Tell us where you graduated from and where you worked right after graduation?

I graduated from the University of Pittsburgh.  After graduation, I moved to Chicago and completed a PGY1 Community Pharmacy Residency program with Albertsons and the University of Illinois at Chicago.  My residency year was the cornerstone of my career.  I had amazing preceptors and was able to experience incredible opportunities.

After my residency, I accepted a position with Albertsons.  In this role, I was able to continue to partner on work that advanced community pharmacy practice across the country.  I had a split role where I spent about a quarter of my time staffing in a downtown Chicago store and the rest of my time working as an “MTM Pharmacist”.  Being an MTM Pharmacist meant I was assigned to about 20 stores on the South Side of Chicago to meet with patients and train pharmacies to provide services.

As an MTM Pharmacist, I was able to see patients for CMRs and monitoring (BPs, A1cs, and lipid panels) under an agreement where the pharmacy was reimbursed for my time.  I worked with prescribers to adjust medication regimens and also trained local pharmacists to provide services to their patient populations.  I loved this role!  It was a great job to have right out of my residency year. I learned so much about collaborating with patients and prescribers.  I really loved that I was able to split my time between patient care and training – I enjoyed sharing how to provide services within a workflow and by appointment with other pharmacy teams.  There is so much we can do within the community pharmacy setting to lead a fulfilling career and impact quality as well as patient outcomes and quality of life.  It’s something I remain passionate about to this day.

  1. Tell us about your current role and what led you here?

In my current role, I wear a few hats – which is part of what makes my career so much fun.  My passions are lifelong learning, improving care for patients and community pharmacy practice transformation.   What has lead me to my current role?  Following the work I’m passionate about.

Currently, I lead Business Development for CEImpact (https://www.ceimpact.com/), a pharmacy education company.   CEImpact provides continuing education, consulting services, learning management solutions, and learning experiences that engage pharmacy professionals and support their lifelong learning journey.  For the individual pharmacist and pharmacy technician, we really want to change the way CE is experienced.  We recently launched a product called qFriday that has received great feedback.  qFriday provides pharmacists a quick way to stay up-to-date weekly through case-based learning, the topics are current and have immediate application to your practice.  Here is access to a free trial for qFriday.  We are launching a community pharmacy education this spring and will be linking it to podcast education too. Lots of exciting ways to experience CE and I love being part of a company that is focused on creating a better experience.

I’m also a co-founder of ThriveSubscribe (https://www.tptransformations.com/).  ThriveSubscribe is specific to community pharmacy practice transformation and support.  We focus on guiding Pharmacists and Pharmacy Technicians in community practice to change by helping them discover their team’s capacity to practice patient-focused pharmacy, develop a new successful business model, regain purpose to a fulfilling professional career.  Last fall, we launched a podcast, ThriveSubscribe, that interviews community pharmacy leaders to share ideas, hope and best practices with our audiences.  We also have a free online community with peer-based resources and will be adding some master classes this spring.  I was involved in creating both concepts from the ground up.

We’ve also recently partnered as a consultant on the  Flip the Pharmacy initiative.  Flip the Pharmacy is about transforming community pharmacy practice to move beyond filling the prescription at a moment in time to ensure teams have the means to provide patient-level care over time. I help create the implementation guide, or Change Package, by partnering with subject matter experts and practice transformation leaders across the country.

 

  1. If a pharmacist was interested in this type of career, what kind of skills/training would they need?

For someone to be successful in a role like mine – they would need to be solution-oriented.  I have problems thrown at me all day – big and small.  I LOVE problem solving and innovation.  I have to be creative and have a growth mindset.  My mind never really turns off and is continuously open to possibilities and partnerships.  I do have to temper this quality to ensure I am realistic in my goals – something I’ve learned from many great mentors along the way.

Teamwork and strong communication is also critical to success.  And, to be in a role like mine, you can’t be afraid to fail – failure is what makes us better.  I’m also hopeful – and I think this is a need in a role like mine.  I use Brene Brown’s definition of hope, which doesn’t classify hope as an emotion but instead as “a combination of setting goals, having the tenacity and perseverance to pursue them, and belief in our own abilities”.

  1. Tell us about your kids – ages, activities, anything you want to share.

I am just so fortunate to have 2 great and healthy kids, they truly are the light of my life.  They both have big personalities but in very different ways.  It is so much fun being their mom!

My kids spent time in the NICU and that is really a tough thing.   Besides the obvious – how scary a NICU stay is – looking back you can see the impact it leaves. Being in the NICU is like being on a roller coaster all day long.  It was emotionally exhausting and I felt powerless in helping my children.  I didn’t really realize it at the time but the impact of my children’s NICU stays was really tough on me for years after – and going through it multiple times, well, it really just takes a toll.  I think we can do so much more to support moms who experience time in the NICU.  I hope to become more involved in change here in the future.  I saw an article not that long ago that links PTSD to parents who have been through NICU experiences – it really hit home for me.  My children received amazing care but I think, as the mom, I was a bit forgotten about. I’m not someone who asks for help (and that isn’t a good thing), so while my kids eventually thrived, it really changed me.  I am very thankful to have a strong support system.

  1. What was the best piece of advice you received from another working mom?

As a working mom, I don’t try to achieve balance – stresses me out too much because I’ll never get there.  Instead, I try to focus on each task, activity, person or event I’m engaged with at the moment and let the rest go.  It’s working for now!

A friend of mine introduced me to Brene Brown’s work a few years ago. Something that stuck out for me from her work is to be mindful.  I’m quoting directly from her work here because this is so powerful for me and something I try to live by each day (because I’m not perfect and that’s ok).

Take a balanced approach to negative emotions so that feelings are neither suppressed nor exaggerated.  Mindfulness requires that we not “over-identify” with thoughts and feelings so that we are caught up and swept away by negativity.

 

  1. Where can we connect with you?

I’d love to connect!  Find me on LinkedIn!  https://www.linkedin.com/in/suzanne-feeney-cei/

Or send me an email – Suzanne@ceimpact.com

I’ll also be at APhA this year and would love to see you at our ThriveSubscribe booth – stop by, say hello and introduce yourself!

The Medical Device Industry: A frontier for pharmacists that Regina is taking head-on

 

What is your current role?  I am a Consultant at BD in their UXD department within the Medication Management Division (MMS) focusing on Human Factors Engineering.

Where did you go to school and what was your background/training? I received my PharmD from the University of the Sciences (USP) and my MBA from Northeastern University (NEU). I also received a certificate in Nuclear Pharmacy at Purdue University.

What are some of the important skills that someone in your role must possess? Being able to pull from my knowledge base in Medical Affairs,   Regulatory and Informatics has proven beneficial in my current role.

What are some of the biggest initiative(s) that you are working on? I’m working on Human Factors work for MDR, 510K, MDSAP.

What are 3 predictions you have for the pharmaceutical industry in the next 10 years? The pharmaceutical world is evolving and I believe that in 10 years personalized medicine will be the norm, Device/EMR integration will be more seamless and there will better data management solutions that will result in better patient outcomes.

What has been one of the bigger setbacks in your career, and what lessons did you learn from that? One of my biggest setbacks has been not being able to make that leap from middle-management to senior management in Pharma despite my interest in leading, my experience and education. I learned that I had to look inward and work on certain areas in order to be catapulted into a senior leadership position. Also, being a mom I realize the importance of work-life balance.

Tell us about some of the biggest successes in your career and why are you most proud of them? I’m proud to have launched Clinicians Touch Healthcare Solutions. I’m most proud of this because I’ve always wanted to be an Independent Business Owner, and being able to offer services in the areas that I’m so passionate about,  is a reward in itself. I’ve based Clinicians Touch on the 3 Tiers of my expertise:  Clinical Informatics, Regulatory, and Medical Affairs. To me, these disciplines intersect a lot and will continue to do so as we move to the next generation of patient care.

What is some advice that you would tell your younger self or other pharmacists starting their careers? I would tell my younger self and others to keep an open mind, listen to those who may be trying to mentor you and give back through volunteerism.

What does being a woman in pharmacy mean to you? Being a woman, and a woman of color brings a perspective that can help to inform the science of pharmacy and patient care in ways that are not maybe traditionally thought of. This is extremely important, nonetheless given that we now compete in the global emerging markets where women and people of color play a great part.

What is your favorite quote? Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail- Ralph Waldo Emerson

How has becoming a BCMAS impacted your career? I only recently became Certified in Medical Affairs and so far, it has solidified my knowledge in Medical Affairs. I think it also adds to my credibility and I market myself as a subject matter expert in this area. I am looking forward to what the future holds as a Board Certified Medical Affairs Specialist.

 

What’s the cure for imposter syndrome? Just raise your hand!

Imposter syndrome. It’s the feeling or belief that you have to be 100% qualified in every area, before taking on a new assignment or role. And, when you do take on that challenging role or assignment, suffering from imposter syndrome leaves you believing that you didn’t deserve the role – or unable to take due credit for your successes.

Imposter syndrome may not be an actual, medical diagnosis – but Cynthia J. Pigg, Vice President of Managed Care and Business Development for Cardinal Health, says that it’s a pervasive issue that stunts career growth for professionals in many industries. She says that in her 25 years of experience working in healthcare, she’s seen imposter syndrome hold many women, in particular, back from pursuing stretch assignments, promotions and other professional growth opportunities that are rightly theirs for the taking.

If you suffer from imposter syndrome, Pigg prescribes the following anecdotes:

  • Don’t wait for perfection: Raise your hand! (Now!)

Pigg says that the good news is that imposter syndrome does have a cure – and it starts with raising your hand, even when you don’t feel comfortable.

“When it comes to pursuing growth opportunities, special assignments or promotions, we often feel that our performance should stand on its own – and we wait for bosses or others to proactively offer those opportunities,” says Pigg. “We can also be hesitant when it comes to actively pursue those stretch assignments or roles because we feel we have to check every single box when it comes to experience and qualifications. But the reality is that no one needs to be perfectly qualified to take on a new role or assignment – and we need to raise our hands – wildly! – to make it clear there’s a professional development opportunity we want to pursue.”

  • Understand that ‘raising your hand’ means speaking up to save your profession

An increasing number of fields in healthcare are becoming female-dominated – particularly when it comes to the percentage of women earning healthcare-related degrees. In pharmacy, for example, 61.9% of those earning professional pharmacy degrees are women. Pigg says that simple math indicates that if 60% of the talent in any field isn’t ‘raising their hands’ to actively pursue leadership roles – the profession (and patients) lose out.

“Some career tracks, like community pharmacy ownership, simply won’t survive if more women don’t raise their hands and take a leap of faith to pursue their passions,” said Pigg. “In our work with the Cardinal Health Women in Pharmacy initiative, we encounter many female pharmacists who crave the independence and opportunity to directly impact patient care that community pharmacy can offer. But they all too often allow perceived gaps in their experience – like lack of familiarity with the financial aspects of business ownership – hold them back.”

  • Fill in the gaps

Whether it’s taking the leap to open a community pharmacy, or pursuing a promotion within a hospital pharmacy department or integrated health system, chances are that no one filling any professional role will ‘check every box’ when it comes to having all of the experience necessary to do the job.

Pigg says the anecdote is simply to fill those gaps in knowledge or experience by tapping the expertise of others. It might be hiring a person to join your team, who has the specialized experience you’re lacking. It might be actively seeking out a mentor to help you bolster knowledge or experience in a specific area. Or taking a college-level course to fill in the gaps. The moral, according to Pigg, is to never let gaps in experience hold you back from pursuing your personal or professional goals.

“Figure out what you’re great at – what fuels you – what kind of work you most enjoy. Then strategically raise your hand for roles, experiences, and assignments that help you fuel that passion,” said Pigg. “Know that absolutely everyone has gaps in experience – and no one can truly know it all. Figure out what your gaps are, and ‘get the right people on your bus,’ to complement your strengths.”

  • Don’t be afraid of failure – or rejection

Finally, Pigg cautions not to be afraid of failure, or rejection. When it comes to pursuing stretch assignments or expanded roles – having a growth mindset is key.

“Having a defeatist mentality almost always hinders growth,” says Pigg. “Don’t expect perfection, and expect that you won’t succeed 100% percent of the time. Know that with every mistake or misstep, you’ll have learned something – and that, in and of itself, is a success.”

 

 

 

 

20 Questions with CEO Pharmacist Mom: Meet Lucinda Maine, Ph.D., FAPhA

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!! 

 

Trough

 There is a trough in waves,
A low spot
Where horizon disappears
And only sky
And water
Are our company.

 

And there we lose our way
Unless
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,
Are silent,
Being with
The low part of the wave,
Keeping
Our energy and
Noticing the shape of things,
The flow,
Then time alone
Will bring us to another
Place
Where we can see
Horizon, see the land again,
Regain our sense
Of where
We are,
And where we need to swim.

 

—  Judy Brown

 

 

 Brooke L. Griffin, PharmD, BCACP

Superheroic: A blog for moms with a pharmacy twist

Be.superheroic@gmail.com

 

Women you should know: Natalie Schwartzel

Natalie Schwartzel – owner of a Medicap® Pharmacy in Lafayette, Indiana, has known she wanted to be a pharmacist since she was just 12 years old, when her science teacher – who had formerly served as a medic in the military – encouraged her to consider a career in healthcare.

He gave Natalie some career guides to flip through – and as soon as she saw the pharmacist job description, she knew it was the career for her. It combined her love of science and her love for helping people.

Natalie’s journey to an independent pharmacy owner took a little more time. After graduating from Purdue University with a pharmacy degree, she spent years working in mass merchant and chain drug stores. Then she opened a closed-door pharmacy located within a mental health provider’s office. That’s where she found her true passion.

“I got the pharmacy up and running within the clinic, built relationships with prescribers and providers, and really enjoyed the interaction with patients,” she said. “That 1:1 patient interaction was so helpful in building respect and accountability…I could directly see the positive impact I was having on health outcomes. I was practicing at the top of my license and using the very best of my abilities.”

Natalie returned to chain retail pharmacy, part-time, for a short while after that — but found herself craving true work-life balance, control – and the meaningful patient interaction that was her true calling. So, with the support of her husband, who is a successful entrepreneur, she went to work putting together a business plan to launch an independent pharmacy. She’s never looked back since. Here are Natalie’s three key pieces of advice for fellow women pharmacists considering pharmacy ownership.

  • Done right, pharmacy ownership can deliver the work-life balance you crave. Natalie says that in addition to enjoying her work far more than she has in prior roles, owning her own pharmacy also gives her much better work-life balance.

As a pharmacy owner, you determine the hours of operation, you decide what kind of services you offer. You make the hiring decisions, and you can set your own schedule, too,” said Natalie. “By surrounding yourself with truly great people, you can provide your patients with that next level of care…and you can also confidently delegate. I have a great team of back up pharmacists who can work the full day or just a few hours – depending on what kind of support I need.”

  •  Know that your network can be a surprisingly valuable resource for growing your business. Before opening her own pharmacy, Natalie spent about a decade working in various pharmacy roles. In that time, she built a strong reputation in her community – for being a good pharmacist who sincerely cares about patients and dedicates the time needed to meet their needs. That reputation served her well when she opened her own pharmacy.“You’ll be surprised at how much community support you’ll get from people who know you personally and professionally,” she said. “Our store gets a high percentage of its business from referrals from doctors, hospitals, patients, even fellow pharmacists who aren’t able to allocate the time to deliver the personalized care their patients need.”
  • Don’t let fear of the unknown hold you back. No person can know everything about any career path until they walk the path themselves.

“Don’t let fear of failure, or fear of the unknown, hold you back from your ability to really make a difference in the lives of patients,” said Natalie. “Just go for it. Have confidence that you can do it.”

  • You don’t have to know it all. Natalie felt confident in her ability to practice pharmacy, build patient relationships and generate referrals. She didn’t feel quite as confident in her business prowess, so she filled in those gaps in knowledge by tapping the expertise of others. Her husband helped her fine-tune her business plan – and together, they also researched various pharmacy franchise models.

“We ultimately chose the Medicap® Pharmacy franchise model because it not only offered a PSAO to help with contracting, but it also provided me with a business consultant – someone who had already opened pharmacies, understood how to create a niche to differentiate my business, and can serve as a sounding board as I build my business. With the support of the franchise network and Cardinal Health, I don’t feel like I’m doing this alone, I feel like I have a full team of experts behind me.”

Take My Hockey Sticks: A Tribute to Dayna Less

Rest in peace, Dayna. We didn’t know each other, but we both spent time at Mercy Hospital around the same time in our careers. Following my residency, Mercy Hospital was my first clinical position for nine years. I’m no longer there but what seemed like a long time ago now feels very recent. 

I know that lobby very well, I know that outpatient pharmacy very well, and I know that horrible elevator very well. I can visualize the wall paper, the carpet, and the furniture. From the elevator you can see the registration area, the security desk, the outpatient pharmacy, and the clinic entrance. In our walks from the elevator to the clinic, approximately 50 feet long, we’d chat with patients and wave to the outpatient pharmacy staff. 

At 3pm the lobby is a busy area. It is filled with chairs for patients waiting for their transportation or their prescription. Patients are eager to arrive home before dark and clinicians are transitioning between day and evening shifts. The outpatient pharmacy is only marked by a small sign and 2 small windows. The windows are mostly covered with plexiglass only leaving about 6 inches at the bottom for the pass through of prescriptions or payment. How many times were we found slightly bent over, talking to the pharmacy staff through that small opening? How many times did we stand in that lobby talking with patients and caregivers?

Rest in peace, Dayna. We didn’t know each other, but my colleagues and I took that same elevator as you several times a day for many years. Surprisingly it was the fastest route from the lobby to the basement. It would take more time to walk to the stairwell and wrap around the basement corridors than the time to wait and take the elevator. During all of our pregnancies, we carried our babies up and down that elevator. We trained over 300 students and residents while we worked there – and we shepherded them all up and down that same elevator. All of them were someone’s baby. Not only us, but many mothers and babies used that elevator to reach the Maternal Family Health Clinic in the basement. On Monday we lost someone’s baby. How many times did we take that elevator? I never saw evil when the doors opened.  I’m so sorry that you did. So very sorry.

Rest in peace, Dayna. We didn’t know each other, but our pharmacy profession brought us both to Mercy Hospital. For me, it started my career in an environment of real-world learning, professional growth, and personal discovery. The Mercy Hospital community taught me what professional belonging felt like – something I only learned when it was gone. Eager young professionals from all over the globe fill every corner. Compassion is not just corporate lingo at Mercy, it’s embodied in their culture so deep that our drive for medical outcomes never compromised the precious patients we grew to love. For some, it is a temporary stop on their journey. For others, they stay longer, until they retire or until a life event changes their course. It wasn’t all rosy, but I suppose many first jobs aren’t meant to be easy. I was proud to train students and residents at Mercy. I was proud of the difference we made in our little pharmacy world. I am proud that you chose it for your residency. 

Rest in peace, Dayna. We didn’t know each other, but pharmacy is a small world. And the expression of love shown by your family and our pharmacy family is building each day. A future clinician. Perhaps a future medical missionary. Perhaps a future pharmacist mom. Perhaps something else. One thing is for sure – your memory will live on in each of us. 

Ps. I love watching, talking about, and playing ice hockey. If hockey sticks were being used in massacres and people were voting to ban ice hockey or regulate it so much that it wouldn’t be worth watching, talking about, or playing, then I’d say: I’ll find another sport. Take my hockey sticks. All of them.

Brooke L. Griffin, PharmD, BCACP

Superheroic: A blog for moms with a pharmacy twist

Be.superheroic@gmail.com

A coach, a mentor, a sponsor: Why you need all three

When it comes to professional and personal development, no one should go it alone. The reality is that regardless of your industry or career path, you can benefit from the advice, support, knowledge and perspectives of other professionals you admire and trust. Here’s my take on why coaching, mentoring and sponsorship relationships are critical for professional development – and what it takes to successfully foster each.

The difference between a coach, a mentor and a sponsor – and why each is important

  • Coaching occurs ‘in the moment,’ and can be offered by anyone around you. Like a coach on the sideline, someone who coaches you in a professional setting gives you advice on how to do your job better. A coach evaluates, and shares feedback about, your skillset, in action.

Coaching can come even when you don’t seek it out. It can be delivered by anyone – a person who reports to you, a team member, a boss or a customer. If you’re smart, you’ll use coaching feedback to improve your game.

  • Mentoring relationships are intentional, and usually occur between you and someone with whom you’ve had a longstanding relationship – someone you trust. You can bounce ideas off a mentor, actively seek their advice, inputs and opinions. Your mentor may work in your same industry or at the same organization, but they certainly don’t need to. And sometimes, having a mentor who works in a different organization or industry can be to your benefit – because their advice and counsel can be more objective.
  • A sponsor has components of a mentor – but also serves as your champion, at work or in your community. A sponsor advocates on your behalf – even when you’re not in the room with them. When you raise your hand for a stretch assignment, promotion or role – they’re your support mechanism. To be effective, your sponsor should work in your same industry – and if you need their advocacy at your workplace, it’s a good idea for your sponsor to work there, too.

Need a mentor or sponsor? Actively seek yours out

Finding a mentor or sponsor isn’t a passive pursuit. Actively seek out mentors and sponsors both inside and outside of your profession. Start by identifying people you look up to…people with whom you feel a connection…people who you trust, want to emulate, or admire. If you don’t currently find yourself surrounded by anyone who fits that description, then strategic networking is key. Make time in your schedule to attend workplace, industry and community events where you may be likely to come in contact with potential mentors and sponsors. And know that the gender of your mentor or sponsor matters not. Women and men can both benefit greatly from mentoring relationships with fellow women, and men alike.

Be patient, but don’t delay

A mentor or sponsor needs to intrinsically want to help and support you – and relationships like that take time to grow and nurture. That’s all the more reason not to delay. Don’t wait until the moment you want to pursue a promotion or stretch assignment to find a mentor to offer you advice – or to find a sponsor to serve as your advocate. Start identifying potential mentors and sponsors, now, and know you’ll need to invest time and effort in building those relationships. That time and effort, invested now, will pay off in the future.

Be clear and intentional about communicating your needs

Like any relationship, the most successful coaching and mentoring relationships occur when both parties are clear about what they want to contribute to it – and get out of it. Specifically ask that person you trust and admire if they’d be willing to serve as your mentor or sponsor. Be clear about the support you need – and your goal. Do you need a sponsor to nominate you for a specific role? Ask. Do you need a mentor to help you fill in gaps in knowledge, so you can feel more confident about pursuing a promotion or career change? Ask. The clearer you are about your needs, the more likely you are to find mentors and sponsors who will be successful in helping you reach your goals.

Pay it forward

Coaching, mentoring and sponsorship are two-way streets. Chances are, if you’re reading this, you not only could use some coaches, mentors and sponsors – but you can be a coach, mentor and sponsor, too. Identify high-potential professionals with whom you feel a connection – and ask them if they could benefit from a mentoring or sponsorship relationship. Then, put in the time to nurture that relationship. Chances are – by walking in the shoes of a mentor of sponsor – you won’t just make a difference in the life of a co-worker, community member of colleague – you’ll learn how to work more effectively with your mentors and sponsors, too.

By Cynthia J. Pigg, Vice President of Managed Care and Business Development for Cardinal Health

Interview with RockStar Medical Science Liaison (MSL) Priya Patel, PharmD, BCPS, BCMAS

We are always interested in hearing more about the women making a difference in the pharmaceutical industry. Pharmacist Moms had the pleasure of interviewing one of Chiesi’s rockstar medical science liaisons, Dr. Priya Patel. She is currently in the company’s Special Care Division with a focus on Neonatology and Cystic Fibrosis. 

  1. What is your current role?  

I am currently a Medical Science Liaison for Chiesi USA, providing clinical support for drugs in Neonatology and Cystic Fibrosis.

  1. Where did you go to school and what was your background/training?

I attended the University of Florida for both undergraduate and pharmacy school. After graduation, I completed a pharmacy practice residency at Northside Hospital and continued to work there as the NICU Clinical Pharmacy Specialist for 10 years.  During my time in clinical practice, I also consulted for a device company as a Pharmacy Education Specialist for a pediatric/neonatal smart IV pump.

  1. What are some of the important skills that someone in your role must possess? 

Personality traits include self-motivated, organized, flexibility, and an outgoing personality.  A strong clinical background with the ability to clearly and confidently communicate high level science to top thought leaders is also key.

  1. What are some of the biggest initiative(s) that you are working on?

Bringing value to discussions with clinicians by helping them understand what the pharmaceutical company I work for can do to support their clinical needs. Clinical value includes collaboration on post-marketing research, investigator-initiated studies, and  partnering on real world databases all with the goal of expanding current knowledge and ultimately improving patient care.

  1. What are 3 predictions you have for the pharmaceutical industry in the next 10 years?

Healthcare continues to rapidly evolve and with an increased emphasis on value-based medicine, pricing and reimbursement are affected.  I anticipate that healthcare economics and outcomes research will become a necessity rather than an added bonus..

Precision medicine and the increased use of pharmacogenomic data will drive providers and researchers to accurately make decisions for patient-specific prevention and treatment strategies.  Utilizing real world databases and registries to effectively analyze big data could ultimately decrease the need for costly clinical trials.

A move towards patient centricity. While many pharma companies are working towards this, most remain unsuccessful in empowering and engaging patients. Understanding patient perspective is important for adding value, improving outcomes and quality of life.

  1. What has been one of the bigger setbacks in your career, and what lessons did you learn from that?

I don’t know if this would be considered a setback, but more of a challenge. Two months after switching careers and accepting a MSL position in my desired therapeutic area which covered the Southeast region (13 states), my husband was offered a great career opportunity that would require us to move from the Southeast to New York City.  Not only did we have the usual stressors of moving, selling our home and cars, finding a place to live, and navigating a new city, but I had no idea what it meant for my career. Before moving, I had an honest and open discussion with my manager about what my options were. Lucky for me, she recognized my potential and advocated for me to continue building relationships and working in my current territory. We both knew that this would not be easy. It required more planning, longer flights, and more nights away from home.  Three years later, I am still in the same role. I choose to do this because I am passionate about the company (especially the people), the disease state and the products. Lesson learned:  don’t give up if you don’t have to – not everything is easy, you just need to decide whether it’s worth it to you.

  1. Tell us about some of the biggest successes in your career and why are you most proud of them?

Seeking opportunities and not being afraid of change. As a hospital pharmacist working in the neonatal intensive care unit, I never imagined I would be able to do anything else.  Being the right person, at the right time and place with a strong clinical background has allowed me the opportunities to branch into alternate career paths. As a consultant for a syringe pump, I was able to travel all over the country to educate other pharmacists on the elements of building a safe drug library for the pediatric and neonatal population. Now as a MSL, I have traveled both in the US and internationally to provide clinical support to health care providers in a therapeutic area that I have devoted my career to.  Most recently, my company allowed me the opportunity and support to take the Board Certified Medical Affairs Specialist Program Certification.

  1. What is some advice that you would tell your younger self or other pharmacists starting their career?

You will repeatedly hear that the pharmacy world is small – don’t underestimate the power of networking. Make an effort to become actively involved in organizations, attend conferences and make some new friends along the way. You never know who will be able to open the door for future career opportunities.

  1. What does being a woman in pharmacy mean to you? 

Flexibility! As you navigate through life there will be many changes and challenges. These may include starting a family, a new job, relocating or even needing to change career paths.  It is important to believe that you don’t have to do the same thing forever! The opportunities in pharmacy are vast whether they are in retail, hospital, pharmaceutical industry, pharmacy benefits management, or academics.

  1. What is your favorite quote?

“She believed she could, so she did”

  1. How has becoming a BCMAS impacted your career? 

Completing the BCMAS program provides a great foundation and insight into the pharmaceutical and device industry. The in-depth content is not something that is easily learned on the job or simply working at a pharmaceutical company. As one of the first BCMAS certified members of the Medical Affairs team at my company, it has allowed us to set a standard for the future. The credentialing is recognized internally, within our company and hopefully will make me more marketable for future opportunities.