Like many pharmacy manager-owners, I have conducted a few interviews in my time. Some were highly collaborative and resulted in all-stars still working strongly with us today. Other résumés turned into napkins or scrap paper.
The problem with pharmacy is that it is all practice. It is training without race day. The daily grind offers much of the same training as it did the day before. After a short time, we become jaded.
Important negotiations are about relationships, something pharmacists know a ton about. Each day we make friends with strangers needing health advice and tools to pair them with.
In writing about the anecdotes and lessons offered by managing people, the business and the profession, I found seven recurrent themes, which I called the seven dimensions of the ideal pharmacy leader.
In an era when pharmacy scope of practice is changing rapidly and we venture out into new practice models, we may feel insecure at first.
All pharmacists have at least one thing in common: we passed a few multiple-choice exams. Remember when your classmate said he would know the answer when he saw it listed in the options? He was right.
Once we invest (or waste) time doing (or not doing) something, we do not get it back. Staffing your pharmacy is much the same, since time spent recruiting, interviewing, onboarding, training and support a new employee will never be given back.
This sounds harsh, but it often goes unrecognized so here it is straight: no matter what your pharmacy role is, you are replaceable. While you may not imagine that someone else is capable of taking over your job, there is.
Bad news is confrontational. We hesitate to disrupt homeostasis because we are afraid of the negative emotions it will cause others and ourselves. The imagined response in anticipation of our inflammatory reaction makes others procrastinate.
Do you have a friend with repeated car problems or perhaps own a car like this yourself? That car ends up costing you time and money repeatedly and the frustration has you thinking about a new vehicle. That car is high maintenance.
It is the boss’s job to filter the conversations of the workplace and make informed decisions. The hardest part of being the pharmacy decision-maker comes in the times we are wrong. When that happens, do you have the guts to change your mind?
You know the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Remember the porridge that was just the right temperature and the bed that was just the right softness?
As part of the duties of being a pharmacist, our job involves helping people when they are not at their best.
There seems no reprieve to the pharmacist’s daily battles, let alone carrying the weight of nurturing a high-volume prescription count, staff that need plenty of attention and keeping an eye on a business that depends on a ton of moving parts.
While a pharmacist is counselling a patient in-person, would it be appropriate for them to stop to answer the phone? Would we expect this of a surgeon or a plumber?
Some urgent moments of pharmacy involve getting prescriptions filled, managing wait times and dealing with due dates like order cut-off times, answering phones and patient line-ups.
People are any workplace’s most valuable asset. They are what make it all tick. To run a great pharmacy, we need great people. To find great people, we need to interview like a champion.
Gone are the days where your next hire would walk in, shake your hand and a conversation led to finding your next all-star. The fact that this may have even worked in the past is mind-blowing.
Workplace exit happens organically when new philosophies and overarching reassessments happen inside a team.
The patient-healthcare provider bond is an alliance of honesty, understanding and trust. In our best attempts to provide patient care, we sometimes fail to establish the required relationship based on the way a patient treats us or the staff.
The pharmacist personality is commonly a confrontation-avoider. We will often put ourselves out for the sake of others. People are used to getting our attention whenever they want it, no matter how small their query.
For the past five years my work portfolio has been a mix of corporate and independent pharmacy work.
If anyone wrote down the negative thoughts that go through the minds of pharmacy people, it would alarm you (and a psychiatrist). Trust me.
Leaders must be prepared to put their bulletproof vest on and own it. To process the time-waster’s feedback, remember that the issue is not a reflection on you, but a reflection on a set of circumstances that you were a part in building.
At the stroke of 2023, Ontario pharmacists were capable of initiating prescription medications without patients seeing a prescriber beforehand. It is a major solution to a major ailment plaguing a complex and congested healthcare system.
We get a call in the pharmacy asking if we have a drug. The busy pharmacy assistant checks our software that tells them we have what they are looking for.
Bold prediction: Pharmacists will grow in medical responsibility and clinical expertise. But while complexity (and exhaustion) increase, who will take care of the pharmacists?
The simplest way to obtain buy-up is togetherness. A team matures when they are united and have each other to follow. During turmoil, if they win as a team no one overstays their welcome by taking too much glory.
Whether you like it or not, optically you are the expert. Your words and actions drive behaviour change and it is up to you to provide the feedback that allows staff to navigate their own individual mastery curves.
To be a better pharmacist, unmask new success by committing to your obsessions and unleashing your inner badass.
Decisions are like pinballs. They bring downstream side-effects in both predictable and unpredictable ways. Some pinballs change the internal (staff) environment while others change the external (customer) environment.
The ‘complete retail pharmacy experience’ has a way of bringing out the pharm-grumpies. But take heart, there is an antidote.
Leaders build pipelines. They manage the future by thinking ahead while still managing the day. They forecast, they calculate, they design without allowing the anxiety of the unknown to take over.
Solving hiring in pharmacy will first mean finding more candidates without a sizeable investment of our time.
Relative to the history of our profession, only more recently have pharmacists been pushed to invent from scratch through prescribing.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is something pharmacists recommend. Scientific literature proves its place as a first-line therapy in mental health.
As pharmacists we can’t live like students in an adult world. We need to invest in life structure because life as a pharmacist is longer than a four-year degree.
Your job is to create the systems and structures paired with people and resources that shift the balance of your Rx count as far to the predictable side as possible.
The right succession plan isolates your strengths and weaknesses, or depth, while putting you in control of your destiny.
We love superheroes and villains because they are unique in their clear identity. We understand their strengths, their weaknesses and what makes them special. Why should you be any different?
In any given hour the always accessible, no-appointment needed, world’s number one trusted health care provider has phones ringing, patients in the aisles looking for recommendations, patients waiting in the counselling room for vaccines, deliveries
Yes, without genuine washroom breaks it’s true that pharmacists can hold water like camels, but there is a more important similarity: they can both carry significant loads on their backs.
From the first day I became a pharmacy manager 15 years ago now, I wondered what the difference was in flipping my nametag from Pharmacist yesterday to Pharmacy Manager today.
Your boss might not make these metrics mandatory but that doesn’t mean they don’t provide insightful data into your store-level operation. Just like individual practitioners, pharmacies themselves have identities. What's yours?
A U-turn is a manoeuvre to completely change direction. For most decisions in life, changing direction goes without much notice or consequence. Most of life’s day-to-day decisions don’t carry much consequence if we get them wrong.
Pharmacists don’t always take their own advice. We counsel on sleep hygiene and appropriate sedative use, then go home and turn on the TV or burn 35 minutes on our phones.
The make-up of a triathlete is not all that different from that of a pharmacist. Years of triathlon training and racing have taught me many translatable skills and qualities that have translated into my becoming a better pharmacy leader.
Sleep permits the brain to process the day, wipe away the emotional fragility of our interactions and wipe the slate clean. That’s the reason we say ‘sleep on it’ since you will be fresh-minded in the morning to decide.
We were pushed to set goals as kids. What do you want to be when you grow up? What do you think you can achieve on the exam? Where do you see yourself in 5 years? So, what's the problem with goal-setting?
As a pharmacy leader your goal should be to have the team deliver greater results after you are gone, demonstrating the power of your leadership in building teams, systems and culture.
When pharmacy staff get angry words from patients, what the pharmacy manager says next means something. Something potentially very important to how the interaction carries on.
Like doctors, in pharmacy we have specialists and generalists. I am referring to each of your registered and unregistered staff. The specialists are bone-deep great at a few skills that they have honed over years of experience.