ASHP InterSections ASHP InterSections

July 22, 2014

ASHP Members Offer Special Expertise to Med-Use Panels

ASHP members are contributing pharmacists's point of view to a number of national healthcare quality efforts.

ASHP members are contributing pharmacists’s point of view to a number of national healthcare quality efforts.

MEASURING, MONITORING, AND IMPROVING PATIENT CARE is becoming increasingly important in today’s healthcare environment, and the opportunity for pharmacists to influence the quality measures that are used has never been greater.

Multi-stakeholder groups such as the National Quality Forum (NQF) are a vital part of this process, endorsing standards for performance measurement and validating quality measurements used in federal payment programs. Through ASHP’s Quality Advocates, pharmacist participation in these groups is helping to shape the reimbursement landscape and improve patient care.

“Our members help build consensus in the rigorous environment of the steering committees,” said Shekhar Mehta, Pharm.D., M.S., ASHP’s director of clinical guidelines and quality improvement. “They assess the feasibility, reliability, validity, and scientific acceptability of proposed measures, and other committee members value pharmacists’ ideas on how a given measure could be implemented in real practice.”

Immediate Impact

It didn’t take long for Starlin Haydon-Greatting, M.S., B.S.Pharm., FAPhA, clinical pharmacist consultant at SHG Clinical Consulting and the IPhA’s Patient Self-Management Program in Springfield, Ill., to have an impact on NQF’s endorsement process. She began her two-year term on the Endocrine Steering Committee in January, and she has already provided influential feedback on several measures that address drug adherence. Haydon-Greatting partnered with another committee member, a researcher for a pharmaceutical company, to explain ways of calculating adherence to other committee members.

Starlin Haydon-Greatting, M.S., B.S.Pharm., FAPhA, is working on drug adherence measures as part of the NQF’s Endocrine Steering Committee.

“Clinicians such as nurse practitioners want to know how they can ensure that patients are adhering to the prescriptions they write. They generally don’t know if the patient has been taking medications until the next visit, so they want to know how to create [patient] accountability,” Haydon-Greatting said.

“I made the point that pharmacists can see if patients are filling their prescriptions, and that pharmacists can take the lead on tracking that kind of data.”

Haydon-Greatting drew upon her work as pharmacy network coordinator for Taking Control of Your Health, an offshoot of the Diabetes 10-City Challenge in which pharmacists lead treatment programs for employees with diabetes.

“We have electronic medical records and web-based programs, and I was able to speak from experience and say that once you have those, the data is already there.”

She added that her input has not only been well-received, but actively solicited by other members of the group. “There are over 20 physicians on this committee, and once they found out I was the only pharmacist, every time a question came up about medication use or adherence, all heads turned to me.”

Winning Recognition

Haydon-Greatting’s experience may be testimony to how far pharmacists have come in the eyes of other clinicians. Five years ago, Steven M. Riddle, Pharm.D., BCPS, FASHP, director of clinical development for Pharmacy OneSource/Wolters Kluwer Health in Seattle, had to prove his mettle on the NQF’s Ambulatory Care Steering Committee.

Steven M. Riddle, Pharm.D., BCPS, FASHP

Steven M. Riddle, Pharm.D., BCPS, FASHP

“I was on a panel with some well-known people in positions of authority [in their fields], national leaders who were not easy-going, subtle folks. There I was, [then] just a pharmacist from the University of Washington to them, and they challenged me. I had to earn a little credibility,” Riddle said.

He earned their respect by applying his background and training as a pharmacist to the four key criteria the committee used in deciding whether to endorse a measure—its importance, scientific acceptability, usability, and feasibility.

“Pharmacists are trained in evidence-based medicine, understanding the trials, and determining whether the clinical and technical evidence is valid. That’s part of what [NQF Committees] must look at when evaluating a measure,” said Riddle, who served until recently the chair for ASHP’s Section of Ambulatory Care Practitioners. “There were times when I swayed opinion by going back to the four criteria, but it was tricky to negotiate. For example, something could be highly valuable but completely unfeasible.”

As with Haydon-Greatting, once Riddle demonstrated his knowledge, the other committee members were quick to tap him for input. “I was able to hold my own and bring forward my concerns. Then when they had questions about medication use, they would ask me, ‘Well, what do you think, Steve?’ ”

Looking to the Future

Pharmacists have their work cut out for them on these committees, said Jannet Carmichael, Pharm.D., FCCP, FAPhA, BCPS, VISN 21 Pharmacy Executive at the Department of Veterans Affairs in Reno, Nev. She encourages young pharmacists to look into systems development and healthcare analytics, noting how her experience with the VA’s clinical data warehouse proved invaluable when she served on the NQF’s Medication Management Steering Committee in 2009.

Jannet Carmichael, Pharm.D., FCCP, FAPhA, BCPS

Jannet Carmichael, Pharm.D., FCCP, FAPhA, BCPS

“The VA is a data utopia. Knowing that I came from an environment with a mature electronic medical record system, the committee members were willing to give me a bit of a bye in presenting my views on evaluating and collecting health data,” she said.

“As electronic medical records become the norm, and the business of metrics and quality measurements becomes more important, the ability to load data sets and analyze the information will become essential.”

Recognizing the need for pharmacist representation in groups like the NQF, ASHP is bolstering efforts for more participation among its membership.

“We’ve been trying to bring more pharmacists into the various committees,” said Christopher J. Topoleski, ASHP’s director of federal regulatory affairs. “Younger pharmacists are more and more interested in informatics. They’re a tech-savvy generation, and as they get experience in using data in the implementation of quality improvement measures, we’ll have a larger crop of people to choose from.”

–By Terri D’Arrigo

Editor’s note: The above story is the second part of a two-part series on how ASHP members are influencing and steering national quality measures. Click here to read the first story.

July 21, 2014

Provider Status Update: Progress Continues to Be Made

Paul W. Abramowitz, Pharm.D., Sc.D. (Hon.), FASHP

Paul W. Abramowitz, Pharm.D., Sc.D. (Hon.), FASHP

Let me just start by saying that this has been a great summer on all fronts, not the least of which being the pharmacy profession’s stellar efforts to achieve provider status for the patients we serve. In fact, provider status was at the top of the list of discussion points when ASHP Vice President Kasey Thompson and I met with White House staff last week to talk about expanded roles for pharmacists.

Our provider status campaign is making great progress.  To date, we have 71 Congressional co-sponsors for our provider status bill, H.R. 4190.  What’s even more amazing is that support for H.R. 4190 is truly bipartisan with an almost 50-50 split between Democrat and Republican co-sponsors.  What a great story to tell that pharmacists seeking to improve patient care were able to bring a highly divided Congress together around a common cause.

Another exciting story to tell about H.R. 4190 is that two of the co-sponsors are physicians.  I think it’s safe to say that the value pharmacists bring to the patient care team is proven and is widely recognized and accepted by other providers and the public.

We have an exceptional coalition working hand-in-hand to tell the compelling story of what pharmacists can do to improve the lives of patients, and how provider status would improve patient access to pharmacists.  The Patient Access to Pharmacists Care Coalition (PAPCC) is comprised of most of the major pharmacy professional organizations along with a host of others, including the largest chain pharmacies and their respective trade organization.

But, it’s not just our efforts in Washington, D.C., that are making the difference.  ASHP members from all over the country have been writing thousands of letters to their members of Congress and giving to the ASHP Political Action Committee (PAC) in record numbers.  Further, they have been meeting with their congressional representatives and senators when they are back in the state, hosting practice site visits, attending political fundraisers, writing opinion pieces in their local newspapers, and various other grassroots outreach efforts.  I can’t even start to express how excited I am to see all of this happening—keep up the great work; you’re making a major difference!

We have great momentum on achieving provider status. However, we still have much work to do.  With elections approaching in November, we are devoting the rest of the year to gaining more co-sponsors in the House of Representatives, getting a companion bill introduced in the Senate, growing the coalition to include a variety of other non-pharmacy stakeholders, educating members of Congress and the public, and supporting financially through PAC contributions the campaigns of political candidates that support provider status for pharmacists and the patients we serve.

Given that the 2014 legislative calendar is drawing to a close, we anticipate provider status bills being reintroduced in the next Congress starting in January 2015, and then re-doubling our efforts to get a bill passed and signed into law.  Admittedly, these are ambitious goals, but ASHP and our partners are committed to making provider status a reality for our patients in the coming years.

In September, we will be taking nearly 100 ASHP members to Capitol Hill as part of our annual Legislative Day to meet with their congressmen and senators to talk about the importance of increasing access to the patient care services of pharmacists, and to ask them to support H.R. 4190.  This demonstration of support will undoubtedly send a strong message that patients need greater access to pharmacists.

As I conclude this update, I want to say thank you to all of you—our members—for your selfless efforts on behalf of your patients.  Secondly, please keep reaching out to and educating your members of Congress about the vital roles you play in advancing healthcare and improving the lives of your patients.

If you haven’t written a letter to your member of Congress, please take a moment to do so through ASHP’s grassroots center.  It just takes a few minutes, and every letter and outreach effort makes a difference.  Also, if you have not yet made a contribution to the ASHP PAC, please consider doing so.  We’ve had the most successful political fundraising campaign ever in the history of ASHP, and it is making a difference with regards to our being able to support political candidates that support provider status.

I look forward to updating you again soon about our efforts to achieve provider status.  Until then, I hope you have a great summer!

July 16, 2014

Pharmacists Improve Diabetes Care

Pharmacists can positively impact patients who have type 2 diabetes, according to new research.

SAN DIEGO VETERANS WITH A LONG HISTORY OF TYPE 2 DIABETES are learning to take charge of their condition and make lasting improvements, thanks to coaching from a clinical pharmacist.

Candis M. Morello, director of the Diabetes Intense Medical Management (DIMM) clinic at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) San Diego Healthcare System, said in a phone interview that many veterans who are referred to the clinic have had diabetes for a decade or longer. Clinic patients have a glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c) level that exceeds 8% and suffer from other health problems in addition to their diabetes.

Morello called her work a personalized “tune-up” for these medically complex veterans.

During the initial 60-minute visit, Morello and the patient identify treatment and lifestyle goals and motivational strategies.

Morello said what motivates patients the most is “how many times they get up at night to go to the bathroom.”

“We’re talking five, six, eight times a night. I say, ‘How would you like to fix that? I can help you. And how would you like to fix that even within a few weeks, and start getting more energy? I can help you do that,’” she explained.

“It’s not your typical 20-minute primary care provider visit,” she said.

The DIMM clinic operates just four hours per week, and most patients need about three to five sessions with Morello before returning to their primary care provider for routine diabetes management.

Candice Morello

Candice Morello

According to data Morello presented in June at the American Diabetes Association scientific meeting in San Francisco, average HbA1c values over a six-month period fell by 2.4 percentage points among 85 DIMM clinic patients, compared with a 0.2-percentage-point decline among 51 primary care patients who were not referred to the DIMM clinic.

That translates to a three-year medical cost avoidance of $6412 per DIMM clinic patient and a return on investment of $7.81 per dollar spent on Morello’s services, she said.

Morello said she’s provided information about the clinic to VA staff and outside groups, and she would like to see the care model replicated elsewhere.

“There are so many [advantages] to this clinic that not only benefit the patient and the medical center but also benefit expanding the scope of other clinical pharmacists,” she said.

Morello, associate professor of clinical pharmacy and associate dean for student affairs at the University of California, San Diego Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, said she operates the DIMM clinic through a collaborative practice agreement with endocrinologist Robert R. Henry, chief of the VA San Diego Center for Metabolic Research and its section of endocrinology, metabolism, and diabetes.

Morello said the clinic was created to help the VA facility meet performance measures related to the care of more than 3000 patients with uncontrolled type 2 diabetes and to improve patients’ HbA1c values while avoiding hypoglycemia and weight gain.

To accomplish these goals, Morello uses the medication therapy management “spider web,” a teaching tool she developed and described in a publication last fall.1 The tool allows clinicians to assess medical, socioeconomic, and behavioral issues unique to each patient and incorporate these factors into a patient-centered care plan.

Among other things, Morello said, the spider web allows her to identify daily triggers in a patient’s routine, such as walking the dog or listening to a radio program, that the patient can associate with medication use and thereby improve adherence.

Morello emphasized that patients are in charge of their own daily care, and they learn skills to make good decisions about their medications and the habits that affect their glucose control.

“I tell them: I can’t be with you at the refrigerator. I can’t be with you when taking your medicine, I can’t be with you to say go take your dog for a walk. I can give you tools, I can help guide you, I can help direct you, but you’re the big decision-maker. And that totally resonates with them,” she said.

Morello said her veterans are spreading the word about their successes, and primary care physicians are also noticing the clinic’s work.

“I’m starting to see a shift as the primary care providers figure out how well their patients are tuned up by the time they get back,” she said. “They’re starting to send me patients who are just diagnosed or have only been diagnosed in [the past] three years or so.”

A primary care clinic that is part of the BHS Physicians Network, a private multispecialty group in San Antonio, Texas, has also reaped benefits from having a pharmacist onsite to help care for patients with type 2 diabetes.

Jodie Gee

Jodie Gee

Data from 118 patients showed an average drop of nearly four percentage points in HbA1c values for those whose care team included a pharmacist, compared with blood glucose values before the pharmacist was added to the practice, said clinical pharmacist Jodie Gee, who presented the findings at the American Diabetes Association meeting.

The addition of the pharmacist to the healthcare team also led to increases in the use of statins, low-dose aspirin, and angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, said Gee, who spends half of her work hours at the BHS primary care clinic and the rest at the University of Texas at Austin College of Pharmacy, where she is a clinical assistant professor.

Gee initially sees her patients monthly in 45-minute sessions. She conducts a thorough medication review that includes medications for diabetes and the patient’s other conditions.

“We even have a lot of patients on inhalers, and we always check that inhaler technique,” she said.

The sessions also include a review of the patient’s blood glucose log and diet. For newly diagnosed patients, she reviews the pathophysiology of diabetes and helps them understand how their medications work and the importance of adherence.

Gee now works under a collaborative practice agreement with the three physicians in the primary care clinic, and she can initiate and adjust medications independently for patients with diabetes. But that wasn’t the case several years ago, when she came to the site to establish an experiential program for pharmacy students and residents.

“The physicians in the clinic, when I arrived, did not know what a Pharm.D. can do,” Gee said.

She said she started off teaching patients how to use their glucometer and inject their insulin. Then she gradually demonstrated to the physicians the value of performing medication reconciliations while gaining the practice members’ confidence in her ability to actively manage patients.

“Once they realized how much of a help it was, they started actually referring to me more patients,” she said. “Eventually, we got the collaborative practice set up, so now they say, ‘Go see Dr. Gee.’”

When Gee started managing her patients, she saw them monthly until their HbA1c level was controlled and then released them to their physician’s care.

“But . . . once they’d been discharged from my service, they would always be re-referred because their A1c’s would go up again,” Gee said.

Now, she said, after patients get their blood glucose under control, they return periodically to see her and maintain their progress.

“And actually, that’s worked,” Gee said.

Gee said the biggest lesson she has learned in her work at the clinic is the importance of being personable and persistent and engaging with the other members of the ambulatory care team.

She encouraged other pharmacists who have an interest in ambulatory care practice to “go for it.”

“You can definitely show a benefit of having a Pharm.D. as part of a primary care team,” Gee said.

1. Morello CM, Hirsch JD, Lee KC. Navigating complex patients using an innovative tool: the MTM spider web. J Am Pharm Assoc. 2013; 53:530-8.

–By Kate Traynor, reprinted with permission from AJHP
(Aug. 1, 2014; volume 71, pages 1240-1242).

June 9, 2014

ASHP Quality Advocates Influencing National Quality Measures

Close to 40 percent of clinical quality measures are related either directly or indirectly to medication use.

IN THE POST-AFFORDABLE CARE ACT (ACA) era, quality in healthcare is one of the most important concepts in patient care. To promote accountability and evidence-based care, the ACA allows multi-stakeholder groups to provide input to the Department of Health and Human Services on selecting quality and efficiency measures.

As part of ASHP’s Pharmacist Accountability Measures, a group of ASHP members known as Quality Advocates have become integral parts of these groups. The advocates serve on various committees, work with administrators and clinicians from other health professions to build consensus, and use their knowledge and training to provide the pharmacist’s point of view on quality measurements that will affect patient care.

“Close to 40 percent of clinical quality measures are related either directly or indirectly to medication use. Pharmacists have the background to assess the scientific reliability and applicability of these quality measures, and are well-suited for offering ideas on how a proposed measure would be implemented in real practice,” said Shekhar Mehta, Pharm.D., M.S., ASHP’s director of clinical guidelines and quality improvement.

One of the ways that ASHP promotes quality healthcare measures is by being a member of the Pharmacy Quality Alliance (PQA), an organization that promotes appropriate medication use and measures and reports performance related to medications.

“We have at least one member in each of seven workgroups and a few on special task forces,” said Mehta. “The director approaches us specifically if there is a gap in clinician involvement because the PQA recognizes the insights that only frontline pharmacists can provide.

“That is one example of why it’s so important to have an organization with ASHP’s resources, experience, and historical perspective invited to the table,” he added. “We’re fortunate to have so many members involved in driving quality improvement.”

The National Quality Forum

ASHP was one of the founding members of the National Quality Forum (NQF), a nonprofit consensus development organization that endorses quality measures and provides recommendations for programs. Much of this work is done through various workgroups and committees on which several ASHP members serve.

Joel C. Marrs, Pharm.D., FNLA, BCPS, BCACP, CLS

“ASHP is very proactive in promoting involvement in these committees,” said Joel C. Marrs, Pharm.D., FNLA, BCPS, BCACP, CLS, assistant professor at the University of Colorado’s Skaggs School of Pharmacy in Denver. Marrs serves on the NQF’s Cardiovascular Steering Committee. “I’m not aware of other organizations that promote membership involvement and encourage their members to apply and serve in these roles like ASHP does.”

ASHP helps to identify pharmacists with specialized experience in particular practice areas and who have experience with quality improvement. Practitioners who are interested in participating in an NQF committee must undergo a rigorous application process to ensure no conflicts of interest. Once on a committee, participants review proposed measures and provide insight based on their practice areas.

“The caveat is that you’re not representing ASHP, yourself, or your employer. You’re acting as an expert in your field,” Marrs said. “But ASHP does a good job of identifying members who would do well on these committees and who will support pharmacy in general.”

Participating in an NQF committee requires time and dedication, said Keith M. Olsen, Pharm.D., FCCP, FCCM, professor and chair in the Department of Pharmacy Practice at the University of Nebraska College of Pharmacy in Omaha. Olsen served on the NQF Surgery Steering Committee.

“We have weekly teleconferences to discuss the measures, and it takes time to prepare for them,” Olsen said. “You have to read the measures and study the literature as well as the format you have to use to do the evaluations. It’s a commitment, not something you should take lightly. Know what you are getting into.”

Pharmacists Excel at Identifying Quality Measures

Olsen said that pharmacists, in particular, often excel at prepping for the evaluations. “It goes along with our training in learning how to read the literature, perhaps more than in other professions,” he said. “We are trained to look for high-quality evidence and good methodologies.”

Curtis D. Collins, Pharm.D., M.S., BCPS AQ-ID, FASHP

That ability to recognize whether a measure is supported by evidence served Curtis D. Collins, Pharm.D., M.S., BCPS AQ-ID, FASHP, clinical pharmacy specialist in infectious diseases at St. Joseph Mercy Health System, in Ann Arbor, Mich., well in his work on the NQF’s Infectious Disease Endorsement Maintenance in 2012.

“Each of us would give preliminary recommendations on six or seven measures, and there were important criteria to measure,” he said. “We needed to ask ourselves if the measures had the potential to drive improvements. If so, what is the scientific acceptability of the measures? Could we make valid conclusions about what we were collecting? Was it usable? Feasible?”

The answer was not always “yes,” according to Collins. “There were a few measures that were very ingrained in healthcare that I initially thought would pass, but once we looked at the actual evidence, it required re-review.”

CMS Technical Expert Panels

Karen B. Farris, Ph.D., the Charles R. Walgreen III professor in pharmacy administration at the University of Michigan College of Pharmacy, Ann Arbor, has worked with two technical expert panels funded by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)—one on MTM and one on care transitions.

Her current TEP work focuses on hospital outcomes measures for care transitions for patients hospitalized with acute myocardial infarction, heart failure, and pneumonia. Farris, who also had previous experience on NQF committees and was recommended by ASHP to serve on the TEP for care transitions lead by the Yale Center for Outcomes Research & Evaluation, now sees the process from the payer’s side.

Pharmacists' involvement on national quality groups is key to better medication-use policies.

Pharmacists’ involvement on national quality groups is key to better medication-use policies.

“We all recognize that there are pros and cons to any proposed measure or change, but it’s not a closed process at all,” she said. “We need insights from clinicians, administrators, and researchers who think about these measures and whose practices these measures will affect before the measures are opened for public comment and ultimately approved for use.”

Farris stressed the importance of pharmacists having a voice.

“Pharmacy professional organizations like ASHP must be at the table during discussions of quality indicators because all of our institutions will be affected by them,” she said.

“Even on the primary care side, we have pharmacists involved in improving care in physicians’ offices and across the range of care that ASHP represents.”

Farris believes that pharmacist involvement is crucial for her TEP in particular. “We need to ensure that pharmacists are involved because care transitions can be affected by medications. We need to ensure that the right care team is involved in transfers, and pharmacists are a key part of that team.”

Getting Involved

Mehta noted that ASHP is always seeking the involvement of members who have experience with quality improvement and performance measures for participation in these groups.

“This an optimal time to get involved because we are seeing healthcare realize the benefits of integrated  team-based care  that includes pharmacists,” he said. “As medication-use experts, pharmacists’ involvement in measurement development or quality improvement is a critical component of advancing healthcare quality and patient care.”

Although competition is stiff for NQF, CMS-TEP, and PQA participation, and most who are appointed to committee positions are at least mid-level in their careers, there are ways that young pharmacists can get involved, according to Collins.

“This is something you can work on locally and even at the level of your own health system or hospital,” he said. “Some of the measures that [NQF and others] consider were conceived by people who initially tried to improve the care of patients within their own departments or care settings.”

Interested in serving on a quality measurement group? Email or

–By Terri D’Arrigo

Editor’s note: The above story is the first of a two-part series on how ASHP members are influencing and steering national quality measures. Click here to read the second story.

June 2, 2014

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;


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