Pharmacy Leadership in a Complicated Healthcare Continuum
Insights on the intangibles of pharmacy leadership that will help you improve

Those of us who have been in healthcare for a long time have seen changes come and go at a breakneck pace. Regulations, practice, lean into clinical, defer to the physician, multidisciplinary practice, silo mentality, more tech, less tech…yada yada yada. With so much energy spent attending to putting out fires every day, I have found it is easy to lose sight of the person behind the profession.

School taught us the Krebs cycle and anatomy. We learned the “lock and key” theory as drugs do their thing. We spent hours memorizing every written word and nugget of wisdom from our professors. As I now have a lifetime of experience in this chosen profession of ours, I find that the most valuable lessons are the ones life has taught me and unlike the tenets of practice back and forth, these lessons hold true throughout. Secret weapon: the intangibles. Here I share a few thoughts on pharmacy leadership that I have gathered over years of being in the trenches at every level.

Find your value and lean into it. You know how to do the job, but do you know how to lean into your strengths? The things that make you a good leader also make you a good follower. Managing goes both up and down. Learn from everyone around you, and then take that and create your strongest path. Tell a joke in a tense situation. Offer a creative idea from the cheap seats. This will be hit and miss, but you don’t know if you don’t try. Find your best voice and sing from the rooftops.

Learn your surroundings and adapt to how the organization works. No matter how good you are, how smart you are, how high your GPA was, none of that matters if you can’t operationalize your big brain so be sure to read the room. This includes the people you are working with which can be hit and miss. I offer this: taking a swing and missing at times, and knowing when to make a change, is as important as sticking with it at all costs. You may lose a little of yourself if you don’t take time to identify the moment. Learn the “politics” of your organization and work within that framework to show the immense power of what you bring, and how pharmacy can be transformative to an organization.

Think of things you can do to make strides. Real strides, things that propel you and your practice forward in a different way. Ruth Bader Ginsburg said, “Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you”. This will get you noticed for all the right reasons.

You can’t do it alone. None of us does it alone. We may think we do, but if you dig a little deeper you will realize that whatever success you have or wish to have does not happen in a vacuum. Think about key turning points in your professional life and there will always be someone or something that helped you get there. Never forget that and remember to pay it forward. Maybe take that call you would normally screen. Set that meeting that you think you don’t need. I have always said that you never know whose hand you will eventually shake, be open to it.

Of course, we should be talking about Specialty, 340B, staffing, budgets, etc., but we should also talk about and share how we take our profession to new heights outside of the daily grind and look a little deeper at our success as highly trained professionals in a rapidly changing world.

About the author:

Fern Kaufman, BS, MBA, PharmD is a clinical, operational and administrative pharmacy expert with thirty years of experience at every level of pharmacy practice. The founder and principle of Naufragato Clinical Consulting, Dr. Kaufman’s experience encompasses pharmacy practice from retail, hospital and administrative as well as pharma in every demographic spanning the country. Naufragato Clinical Consulting employs an analytical hands-on methodology to align costs, operations and clinical programming delivering a message and blueprint for operationalizing redundant change across any organization, all on a contingency basis to eliminate barriers to access to all in need of sustained change.