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Lessons from My Uncle: Creating Relationships Across the Continuum

Sep 11, 2014
Far right, Daniel M. Riche, Pharm.D., advises fellow cardiometabolic clinic team members about the best medications for patients under their care.

Far right, Daniel M. Riche, Pharm.D., advises fellow cardiometabolic clinic team members about the best medications for patients under their care.

MY UNCLE CLAUDE OWNED AND RAN A PHARMACY in southern Louisiana for over 40 years. As a boy, I remember going into the pharmacy, and Uncle Claude would always say (at the top of his lungs), “Well, hair low der!” (which translates to “hello there” in English; my family is not just southern, but Cajun).

This gesture was a small outreach to his patients, intended to establish a rapport and, ultimately, develop a relationship. The best evidence of how successful my uncle was in this regard occurred on the day of his funeral.

The pharmacy was closed on a weekday for the first time in 40+ years. After the service, we drove by the pharmacy. There were so many flowers placed on its steps that it took several trips loading them onto the truck before we could even open the front door.

I’ve always tried to establish the same kinds of meaningful relationships that my uncle had with his patients. As a certified diabetes educator and in my work treating patients with all types of metabolic diseases, I see how my knowledge and experience benefits patients.

I believe that they live healthier lives because a pharmacist is involved in their care. But does anyone outside of my personal and professional circles truly know what I do every day to improve my patients’ outcomes?

Getting Outside of Our Comfort Zones

As professionals, we do an excellent job of establishing ourselves and expanding within pharmacy and our own circles. But we often don’t see the opportunities that exist to extend that influence.

After stretching our limits and relying on our relationships, there must be more than simply doing it again and again. What is next? How can we get outside of our own comfort zones and make new impacts on healthcare in general and our patients in particular?

To that effect, I recently took advantage of an opportunity to present at the Cardiometabolic Health Congress for leaders in my professional area. I will be the first pharmacist invited as a distinguished faculty to this prestigious meeting. My topic is “Integrated Management of the Complexities of Cardiometabolic Diseases: A Patient-Centric Team Approach” with a focus on pharmacist intervention.

Even though this presentation is a small step, I’m very excited about helping to further the concept of pharmacist integration. This type of high-visibility outreach serves a larger purpose of expanding the impact of pharmacists across the entire healthcare continuum. Hopefully, it will also help to strengthen our profession’s case for provider status recognition.

As pharmacists, we all have established key relationships with our patients and across healthcare teams and settings. Now I believe that we need to expand our individual footprints so that the entire profession can benefit. To that end, it’s critical to ensure that people know that you make a big difference in the outcomes of patients under your care. Shout it from the rooftops, if you need to!

By disseminating the knowledge we have and expanding our relationships, we each can help to grow the influence that pharmacy has and improve the impact of our services.

–By Daniel M. Riche, Pharm.D., associate professor of pharmacy practice and associate professor of medicine, University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy, Jackson; driche@umc.edu

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  • Ellina

    Wow this is amazing! This is truly not a small step, but a very large one!! I am so impressed by his article and will strive to continue the type of work he has done in stepping outside our comfort zones – I think it would be great to attend medical, nursing, social work, and many other disciplines’ meetings to spread the word about pharmacy.