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January 12, 2021

Pharm.D. Candidate is a Long-Time Champion for Diversity

Jeffrey Clark is a fourth-year Pharm.D. Candidate at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine School of Pharmacy.

AFTER GRADUATING FROM a Bachelor of Science program, Jeffrey Clark was torn between applying to pharmacy school or medical school. As fate would have it, that hesitation dissipated when Clark entered the post-undergraduate working world.

While working as a program and wellness manager at the University System of Georgia, Clark was surprised to find out that pharmacists worked in managed care positions. “I’d always thought of pharmacists as being limited to the retail setting,” Clark said.

Discovering the range of options available to pharmacists and feeling gratification from helping individuals achieve better health through the wellness programs inspired Clark to pursue a career in pharmacy.

Diversity Leadership

As a fourth-year Pharm.D. Candidate at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine School of Pharmacy in Suwanee, Georgia, Clark’s professional interests include pharmacy operations management, medication safety, and quality assurance. His plan at the moment, however, is to pursue a two-year residency in health-system pharmacy administration and leadership.

That choice of specialization is a natural one for Clark, who serves in several leadership roles, including Chair of the ASHP Pharmacy Student Forum Executive Committee and as a student representative to the ASHP House of Delegates.

Clark is perhaps most passionate about being a leader in diversity. This interest was sparked in high school, where he spearheaded the formation of diversity groups, and a task force. “I remember explaining to [my high school’s] administration that we didn’t have a diversity-focused organization and that we needed to hold a conversation around the topic,” he said. After speaking up and voicing his concerns, Clark was asked to start a campus diversity organization.

Clark was called on again to lead diversity initiatives at college, where the campus president asked him to facilitate a task force on the issue, with the goal of finding ways to recruit individuals from underserved communities to college positions. “Those discussions ultimately led us to build awareness among faculty and staff and promote discussions on matters related to race,” he recalled.

Clark’s rich history of diversity leadership has led him to his current position as a member of the ASHP’s Task Force on Racial Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). His mentor, Joshua Blackwell, Pharm.D., clinical pharmacy manager, ambulatory services, at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, is excited to see what Clark will help achieve during his tenure on the ASHP DEI Task Force.

“When the call to action came from ASHP, Jeffrey immediately contacted me and expressed interest in serving as the student voice on the DEI Task Force,” said Dr. Blackwell. “I think one of Jeffrey’s greatest strengths is that he understands and listens to what other students around the country say their challenges and opportunities are within pharmacy schools. He wants to help them at every stage of their journey.”

Diverse Mentors, Leaders, and Students

Clark has reached impressive heights as a leader, but the path as a black male has come with some challenges. “I initially struggled to find a leader in pharmacy that I really connected with and felt comfortable telling my life story to, and I partly attribute that to not having someone who looks like me,” Clark said.

Although he eventually found leaders who supported and guided him, that lack of an early connection may have translated to some missed opportunities, he believes. “There are lots of opportunities available to pharmacy students, but you have to know about them and figure out where to put your time and effort,” Clark said. “If you don’t have a mentor to guide you, that can be difficult.”

Clark hopes to dedicate part of his time on the ASHP DEI Task Force to ensuring that other potential and current pharmacy students do not similarly miss out on opportunities. Promoting awareness to communities and schools that have historically been less of a focus for pharmacy schools is one way he believes this can be done. Sharing the stories and achievements of diverse members of the pharmacy community should also make students feel more comfortable and interested in getting involved with pharmacy organizations, Clark believes.

“People of color sometimes don’t feel like they stand a chance, and they don’t see how they’re going to find a mentor or some kind of connection to break through racial barriers,” he said. “We need to be proactive in seeking out people from diverse backgrounds and to communicate better with them to let them know, ‘Hey, you can do this!’”

Practitioner Diversity Improves Patient Care

Clark is a member of the ASHP Task Force on Racial Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

Clark believes that having practitioners that represent the mirror the diverse range of patient backgrounds – whether it is race, sex, or socioeconomic level – can help improve the quality of care that individuals receive.

For example, he recalls finding some patients from minority backgrounds reluctant to share information with the hospital rounding team during some of his patient rounds. While the sheer size of a large medical team may have intimidated them, “in some cases where the patient we treated was black, I noticed that when I went into the room alone, they would be much more open to talking,” Clark recalled. “There are some people that feel more comfortable talking to a person who is like them.”

For all the reasons that diversity is so important to him, Clark is excited about the changes he and his peers stand to make through ASHP’s DEI Task Force. “Diversity is already happening,” he said. “We’re working hand-in-hand with ASHP staff to make sure we find every opportunity to grow, and to develop policies and accountability systems that keep us expanding our diversity, not just once, but on an ongoing basis.”

By David Wild


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May 28, 2014

Student Workshops Honing Future Pharmacy Leaders

Filed under: Current Issue,Feature Stories,Innovation,Students,Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Kathy Biesecker @ 3:26 pm
ASHP's Student Leadership Development Workshops have benefited thousands of students since they debuted in 2008.

ASHP’s Student Leadership Development Workshops have benefited thousands of students since debuting in 2008.

WHEN ARPIT MEHTA, PHARM.D., attended ASHP’s Student Leadership Development Workshop (SLDW) at the 2010 Summer Meeting in Tampa, he couldn’t have known how much impact the three-hour program would have on his future.

“The workshop influenced me to choose a pharmacy administration track for my residency,” said Methta, who was a second-year pharmacy student at the time of the workshop. Now he’s finishing the second year of his pharmacy administration residency at West Penn Allegheny Health System in Pittsburgh.

“The workshop showed me that I would enjoy a leadership role, and it made me think about things that pharmacy students usually don’t consider.”

Developed through the work of the Section of Pharmacy Practice Managers’ Advisory Group on Leadership Development, the first SLDW was first held at the 2008 Pharmacy Society of Wisconsin’s annual meeting. It was part of ASHP’s response to warnings of an imminent leadership gap in hospital and health-system pharmacy—particularly a 2005 watershed paper by pharmacy leader and former ASHP President Sara White, M.S., FASHP[1].

Among White’s recommendations was the need to “identify and encourage students, residents, and practitioners who are interested in and have the ability to be leaders and change agents.”

Leadership Gap on the Horizon?

Diana L. Dabdub, director of ASHP’s Pharmacy Student Forum, concurred that the profession is facing a lack of new leaders and succession planning in coming years.

Diana L. Dabdub

Diana L. Dabdub

“Because many pharmacy leaders will be retiring, ASHP needed a way to interest more students in taking on both formal and informal leadership roles,” she noted, adding that when the workshop was first developed, few pharmacy school curricula include a focus on leadership development skills.

A major goal of the workshop is to spark student interest in leadership opportunities in pharmacy. Other objectives are learning to distinguish between leadership and management; understanding the relationship among administrative, clinical, and other general and specialty leadership roles; understand the need for strong leaders in the future; and learning how to build personal leadership qualities.

The first part of a typical SLDW covers leadership philosophies and concepts. During the second part, participants break into groups to explore contemporary leadership topics in depth and prepare and deliver a presentation to persuade the rest of the group (a role that is often played by C-suite level professionals in hospitals and health systems) to take a particular action, such as funding a new clinical pharmacy service.

The workshop leader—often a well-known figure in the profession—is assisted by several facilitators who are typically pharmacy residents or new practitioners. At least one of those facilitators has gone on to lead the workshops himself, according to Dabdub.

Since the SLDW debuted at the 2008 Pharmacy Society of Wisconsin’s annual meeting, it has been held at more than 20 other ASHP state affiliate meetings and several ASHP Summer meetings.

Not Just for Future Pharmacy Directors

According to David Chen, R.Ph., MBA, senior director of ASHP’s Section of Pharmacy Practice Managers, more than 2,000 pharmacy students have completed the workshop. Its popularity continues to rise.

“Leadership is an energizing topic that’s universal and timeless,” Chen said, adding that the workshop creates opportunities not only for the students to learn a great deal, but also to mingle with like-minded peers from other schools.

Philip Brummond, Pharm.D., M.S.

Philip Brummond, Pharm.D., M.S.

“The workshop is not just for people who want to become pharmacy directors or hold formal management positions, but for anyone who wants to understand and develop leadership skills, even if it’s in the context of clinical practice,” added Philip Brummond, Pharm.D., M.S., director of pharmacy at Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin Froedtert Hospital in Milwaukee, who has led several workshops and was a member of original SPPM advisory group that developed the SLDW.

Students, he continued, come away with techniques they can use to “sell” themselves and their ideas, allowing them to accomplish what is needed for the patients they will serve over their career.  “It teaches fundamentals in a fun, energetic, safe setting that promotes active participation and draws on real-world scenarios.”

Brummond recalls interviewing a pharmacist who was a workshop alumnus for a clinical pharmacist position when he managed pharmacy services at the University of Michigan Hospitals and Health Centers.

“During the interview, he talked about how much the workshop had meant in shaping his approach to practice,” said Brummond. “I hired him, and now he is an up and coming leader in his field.”

SLDW participants focus on contemporary leadership philosophies and concepts.

SLDW participants focus on contemporary leadership philosophies and concepts.

According to SLDW leader Meghan D. Swarthout, Pharm.D., MBA, BCPS, “the workshop brings to life challenges that students can expect to face in practice.” Swarthout, who is division director, ambulatory and care transitions, Department of Pharmacy, The Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, also believes the workshops are eye-opening for many students.

“It raises awareness that leadership isn’t directly tied to a title—that it happens at every level of a career and that it’s just as important for a frontline clinical pharmacist taking care of patients every day as it is for pharmacy directors and executive administrators,” she said.

Swarthout added that leaders and facilitators can gain as much as students do.

“Every time I conduct an SLDW, I’ve left more energized and full of new ideas. I’ve seen many students come up with ideas, and I said to myself, ‘I never thought of it that way, that could definitely apply to our health system.’ Because students see things in a fresh, different way, their questions and proposed solutions challenge me and help me develop my own leadership skills.”

Conducting Your Own SLDW

Because of the SLDW’s popularity, ASHP now has standardized workshop materials available on the ASHP website for members who are interested in putting on their own workshops. Resources include a slideshow, case studies, self-assessment questions, and a brief podcast with suggestions for how to conduct the program, make the best use of workshop resources, and promote the workshop to pharmacy schools and students.

Kate Farthing, Pharm.D, BCPS, FASHP,

Kate Farthing, Pharm.D.,

“Everything has been vetted during many successful workshops, and now it’s pre-packaged and ready to use,” said Kate Farthing, Pharm.D., BCPS, FASHP, clinical coordinator with the Legacy Health System in Portland, Oregon, who led the SLDW in the spring of 2012.

“It’s plug-and-play, easy to personalize for your own purposes and for any given audience, and it instills the idea of becoming a leader,” she said, adding that the three-hour program can easily be shortened.

Additionally, the ASHP Foundation provides up to four grants annually to members who work with their ASHP state affiliated.

Molly Juhlin, Pharm.D., served as a facilitator at Farthing’s workshop when she was a third-year pharmacy student at Oregon State University. Juhlin, who is about to finish a residency at Legacy Health, said she benefitted as much as the students did.

“The workshop gives you an opportunity to learn from pioneers in the field who helped sculpt what pharmacy is now,” she said. “How can you pass up an opportunity like that? These people share a lot of advice on how to be successful practitioners and good leaders so that we can guide the field forward when the time comes.”

For more information on attending an ASHP SLDW, click here. If you are interested in conducting a workshop, click here.

–By Steve Frandzel


[1] Am J Health-System Pharm. 2005;62:845-855;


September 28, 2010

Take Your ASHP Involvement to the Next Level

Are you passionate about building a strong future for health-system pharmacy? Do you know someone else who is? Consider nominating yourself or a colleague for a position among ASHP’s elected leadership.

ASHP’s president-elect and board members oversee the Society’s initiatives and programs, including professional policies, finances, and strategic planning. The officers are elected by active ASHP members and serve three-year terms.

Responsibility for managing the activities of ASHP’s policy- making body falls to the chair of the House of Delegates. The chair is elected by the House and serves a one-year term.

Nominations for these positions can be submitted to the ASHP Committee on Nominations via e-mail (, fax (301-634-5825), or U.S. mail (attention: Executive Office), no later than February 1, 2011.

January 21, 2010

NQF Recognizes Pharmacists as Leaders

Picture 17IN ITS NEW SET OF SAFE PRACTICES, the National Quality Forum is championing the need for pharmacists’ leadership in medication management, an exciting development for pharmacists across the country.

Safe Practice 18, titled “Pharmacist Leadership Structures and Systems,” is one of 34 guidelines for organizations that have proved effective in reducing adverse health care events. The practice is explicit in its support for pharmacy leadership, stating: “Pharmacy leaders should have an active role on the administrative leadership team that reflects their authority and accountability for medication management systems performance across the organization.”

Recognizing Pharmacists’ Patient-Care Role

Safe Practice 18 is an important new recognition of the health-system pharmacist’s role in reducing medical errors through medication management, according to Hayley Burgess, Pharm.D., BCPP, director of performance improvement measures, standards, and practices at the Texas Medical Institute of Technology in Austin.

“Pharmacists are good at implementing change, and someone has to go in and identify the gaps where people are getting hurt. This is what we are all well-trained to do,” said Burgess, who helped write the new practice standard.

NQF-LogoSafe Practice 18 is also a call to action for pharmacists to step up and take on larger leadership roles in areas like information technology within their own organizations, Burgess noted. “Pharmacists have the potential to be great leaders, but we haven’t always given ourselves enough credit for that in the past.”

The new practice, according to Burgess, gives pharmacists a road map for a safe medication program, based on the framework of strong leadership, a culture of safety, teamwork, and identifying and mitigating potential harm to patients.

Safe Practice 18 augments the four practices issued by the NQF in 2006, which covered standardized medication labeling and packing, high-alert medications, unit dose medications, and the pharmacist’s role in coordinating both of these kinds of medications.

The Value of Pharmacists

With Safe Practice 18, NQF is acknowledging the value of pharmacist involvement not only on the frontline delivery of safe patient care but also on the organizational level. That’s because pharmacist involvement at all levels has been shown to significantly improve patient outcomes, prevent harm, and reduce costs, said Mary Andrawis, Pharm.D., M.P.H., ASHP’s director of clinical guidelines and quality improvement.

“This recognition means that pharmacists should be expected to take on enhanced roles and responsibilities within their organizations,” she said, adding that there are three areas critical to enhancing the leadership potential of pharmacists:

1. Provider status: Pharmacists need to be recognized as health care providers for the purpose of liability and billing. ASHP has been aggressively advocating in Congress for the enactment of provider status for pharmacists.

2. Organizational decision making: Pharmacy leaders should be involved with integral system decisions.

3. Direct communication: The organization’s leadership team should have pharmacists engage directly with its board of directors.

Defining Leadership

Burgess believes that defining the skills to become a great leader is a critical, but difficult, step. “Our teams will follow leaders who have core values and behaviors that drive patient safety and organizational performance improvement,” she said.

The new NQF Safe Practice 18 calls for pharmacists to have an active leadership role.

Another critical step, according to Wayne Bohenek, Pharm.D., M.S., FASHP, vice president of care transformation at Catholic Healthcare Partners in Cincinnati, is to begin assessing individual facilities to reveal opportunities for improvement.

“Pharmacy is the only discipline called out by the NQF, which is a great honor,” he said. “But it’s only a first step. We need to find ways to take these concepts and operationalize them.”

As an example, Bohenek points to the NQF’s call for pharmacy leaders to communicate regularly and directly with hospital board members. To understand any barriers to that process, he suggests that pharmacists develop assessment tools similar to those of ASHP’s 2015 Initiative.

“For example, how many pharmacy directors have made a presentation to their facility’s board of directors?” he said, adding that the data could reveal the priority the board places on medication management and pharmacists’ patient-care role.

Lessons Learned

Hospital pharmacists who have already stepped into leadership roles can offer additional insights into how to partner with executives in meeting patient-care goals.

Take, for example, Darin Smith, Pharm.D., BCPS, who has served in his roles as director of pharmacy and director of performance improvement at Norman Regional Health System in Norman, Oklahoma, for more than two years.

Smith updates the health-system’s board monthly on health and safety issues facing the system’s three hospitals. He said his transition was made easier by the trust that the medical staff already had in the pharmacy department.

“They recognized the good work we had already done on quality initiatives,” he said. “When I look at all the work that needs to be done on safety, a good portion is medication-related. If pharmacists don’t step up and jump into these roles, other people will. And they don’t understand the intricacies of the systems like we do. Pharmacy leadership truly is the wave of the future.”

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