ASHP InterSections ASHP InterSections

July 7, 2017

Jennifer Askew Buxton Unpacks Her Mentor Toolbox

Dr. Buxton (Right), mentors Allison Stilwell (Center), a student on rotation from the Eshelman School of Pharmacy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, as she counsels a patient prior to administering a vaccine.

THE MOST IMPORTANT PIECE OF ADVICE that Jennifer Askew Buxton, Pharm.D., CPP, FASHP, gives her students and residents is to create a mentor toolbox. People have different skills, noted Dr. Buxton, and having an assortment of mentors (a mentor toolbox) helps to provide a full breadth of expertise.

Although Dr. Buxton always knew that mentors were crucial to success, she didn’t at first realize the particular importance of having female mentors. “I was probably five to eight years into practice before I recognized the gender gap,” she said. “I realized that all my mentors were men, and I began to seek out female mentors who were pharmacist leaders and outstanding mothers.”

Making the Most of Mentors
Dr. Buxton considers herself fortunate to have had two strong mentors early on: her stepfather, a physician, and ASHP Past President Bruce Canaday, Pharm.D., FAPhA, FASHP, her Residency Director at Southeastern Area Health Education Center in Wilmington, N.C. Dr. Buxton credits her mentors with teaching her the importance of volunteerism and advocacy, both in associations and in the community.

Growing up, she had always leaned toward math and science, and her stepfather, J. Paul Martin, M.D., inspired her to go into a healthcare field. Dr. Martin, now a specialist in both addiction medicine and occupational medicine, was a family medicine physician in Asheville when Dr. Buxton was growing up. “He taught me about the importance of volunteering,” said Dr. Buxton. “He would take me with him when he volunteered at the local free clinic, and later on I did the same with my students.”

Dr. Buxton credits Dr. Canaday as being influential as well. “He has a passion for pharmacy association work that I don’t find in most people,” she said. “He has incredible problem-solving skills.” The two hit it off when Dr. Canaday was Dr. Buxton’s preceptor. “To this day, I seek his wisdom,” she said. “Whenever we are at the same meeting, we always share a meal, and he is always available by email or phone to help me make decisions.”

The Volunteer-Leadership Connection
Today, Dr. Buxton is Chief Pharmacy Officer and Co-Director of Mental Health Services at Cape Fear Clinic, in Wilmington, N.C., where she was a volunteer for almost a decade before accepting her current position. The clinic provides medical care to under- and uninsured, low-income patients in four counties in North Carolina. “It’s not a patient-centered medical home, but it works like one,” said Dr. Buxton, who runs all the pharmacy-related services, including immunization, clinical services, medication therapy management, medication synchronization, chronic disease management, and the clinic’s mental health program.

In North Carolina, pharmacists can have prescribing privileges, and Dr. Buxton manages the medication for clinic patients who are being seen by counselors, licensed social workers, and psychologists. “I’m practicing at the top of my license,” she said.

Dr. Buxton serves as the Chief Pharmacy Officer at Cape Fear Clinic, where she takes pride in providing pharmacy services to underserved patients.

She is also Director of the PGY1 Community Pharmacy Residency Program at Wingate University School of Pharmacy, Wingate, N.C., and she regularly precepts pharmacy students from all North Carolina schools of pharmacy. “I always encourage my students to ask for mentors,” she said. “Whether it’s me or someone else, it must be someone you connect with.”

Dr. Buxton is active in local, state, and national pharmacy associations. Dr. Buxton was elected to the Executive Committee of ASHP’s Section of Ambulatory Care Practitioners as Director at Large and has served as a member of numerous ASHP committees and advisory groups. She was recognized for her dedication to volunteer work with ASHP’s Distinguished Service Award and has served as President of the North Carolina Association of Pharmacists.

Influential Mother Network
When Dr. Buxton began seeking out female mentors, it was because “I wanted to speak with other women in healthcare management about how to navigate a male-dominated work environment,” she said. “The women were there — I just hadn’t started to cultivate those relationships.”

A few years later, as she was thinking about having children, she realized that her female mentors didn’t have children. This led to a search for a network of professional female mothers. “I started to reach out to women-mother mentors in a more formal way,” she said. “That’s how I rounded out my mentorship toolbox.”

What did she learn from her mother mentors? “I was terrible at work-life balance, and I realized I needed to do something about that. I’m very passionate about work — full time doesn’t mean 40 hours; it means however many hours it takes,” she said.

Dr. Buxton’s mentor network taught her several valuable lessons, including that sometimes family takes priority and sometimes work takes priority. Dr. Buxton learned that work-life balance doesn’t necessarily mean 50/50, but it is essential to have quality time dedicated to home and to not blur the lines between work and home. “Your goals don’t change, but how you achieve them might,” said Dr. Buxton, who gave birth to a daughter in December. This is where family is important, she added. She credits her husband as a total partner in parenting, and her younger sister, mother to a 9-month-old, as a role model.

ASHP Mentors
Dr. Buxton values ASHP because it’s where she can go for support, advice, and motivation. She cited ASHP Past President Diane Ginsburg, R.Ph., Ph.D., FASHP, as an inspiration for being a strong female leader. “I was so impressed with her accomplishments. I saw her as an excellent example of what women can achieve,” said Dr. Buxton.

ASHP staff has been very helpful to Dr. Buxton as well. “I have a circle of three mothers at ASHP who help me talk through time commitments with leadership roles so I can choose what I do and do it well,” Dr. Buxton said.

One of the most important lessons that Dr. Buxton learned from her mother network and her ASHP mentors is that she would be serving as a role model for her daughter. “She’ll watch me and look to me as someone who can show her how to be involved with community and profession,” she said. In other words, Dr. Buxton plans to lead by example, as she learned from her own mentors.

By Ann Latner

# # #

February 23, 2017

Career and Family: Mary Ann Kliethermes Proves You Can Have It All

ASHP President Lisa M. Gersema, Pharm.D., presents Kliethermes with the ASHP Distinguished Leadership Award at the 2016 Midyear Clinical Meeting in Las Vegas.

“YOU CAN BE SUCCESSFUL and be a mom.” This is the heart of Dr. Mary Ann Kliethermes’ message to female pharmacists concerned about balancing a career and a family. She should know. The mother of four recently received ASHP’s Award for Distinguished Leadership, recognizing her dedication and work in expanding patient care roles for pharmacists in current and emerging healthcare models.

For Dr. Kliethermes, however, success isn’t about winning awards. “Awards are very nice, and I truly appreciate them,” she said, “but for me, it is about connecting with people.” Whether those people are patients, other pharmacists, or physicians, Dr. Kliethermes’ connections with them result in better care, better communication, and better outcomes.

Mentoring with a Mother’s Touch

Dr. Kliethermes, Pharm.D., is the Vice Chair of Ambulatory Care and a Professor at the Chicago College of Pharmacy. Mentoring young faculty is her favorite part of her job. “I love mentoring!” she said in a recent interview. “Other than the dean and myself, [the faculty] is fairly young, so they are just starting to have kids and deal with the balancing act that comes with it.”

Mary Ann Kliethermes

Dr. Kliethermes’ passion for mentorship began in the late 1970s and early 1980s during pharmacy school. Many of her mentors were physicians, and one in particular left a lasting impression. “He was kind to patients, incredibly smart … patients came from around the world to see him … and he took an interest in me along with everyone else, not just the medical students,” recalled Dr. Kliethermes. “He wouldn’t leave a patient’s room on rounds until I heard the heart sounds, too.”

Dr. Kliethermes believes that motherhood has enabled her to be a better mentor. “When you’re mentoring young people, it’s like what you did with your kids to make them successful. Caring, and dealing with the challenges of growth — just like with children. It’s my natural approach,” she said.

Part-Time Success

Dr. Kliethermes credits working part time as an important step in balancing career and family. Sixteen months after having her first child, she gave birth to a set of twins who arrived two months premature. Life with three children under the age of 2 was complicated. “There were no daycare options,” Kliethermes explained. “Just getting them all in the car was a challenge. We couldn’t afford a nanny. I realized I needed to go part time.”

When she proposed reducing her work hours to the Director of Pharmacy at the hospital where she worked, he said he had never heard of a part-time Pharm.D. “He told me that if I wanted to come back part time after maternity leave, I could staff,” she said. But Dr. Kliethermes wanted to do clinical work. “I was the only clinical pharmacist at that hospital,” she explained. “I was doing a lot of work with the nutritional support team and with medical residents.”

Luckily, the physician in charge of nutritional support also had twins and convinced the Medical Education Department to hire her part time. After that, and while she was still on maternity leave, the Pharmacy Department relented and agreed to let her work fewer hours.

The Kliethermes family: Mary Ann, daughter Stephanie, son Chris, husband Mark, son Cody, and son Mark Jr.

In total, Dr. Kliethermes worked a pared down schedule for 23 years. Eight years after having her twins, she had her fourth child. She continued working as a clinical coordinator at the hospital while her children were in grade school — training residents about dosing, helping nurses, assisting in the ICU, and even taking calls at home when necessary. Eventually, Dr. Kliethermes and her husband, who is also a pharmacist, became co-owners of two home-infusion companies. She worked part time for the infusion companies until they were sold.

When her three older children were in high school, Dr. Kliethermes began working with the University of Illinois College of Pharmacy’s “Refill Ten” program, for patients with 10 or more prescriptions. She worked from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., building the program from 21 patients to about 150. “Basically what I did was medication therapy management,” she said. Her proudest moment came when a particularly curmudgeonly physician told her, “I’ve been taking care of this patient for five years, and I’ve never seen her blood pressure so well controlled. The program must be working.”

Advice for Pharmacist Moms

Dr. Kliethermes draws on her motherhood experience to help her be a better pharmacist. “My way of dealing with patients is very maternal. It’s like dealing with kids. How do I get them to do what they are supposed to do? [Counseling patients] blends with motherhood,” she said.

Kliethermes and her pharmacy practice colleagues at Midwestern University, Donna Cutro, Kathleen M. Vest, Pharm.D., Christie Schumacher, Pharm.D., and Jennifer Mazan, Pharm.D., wear pink to support breast cancer research.

Dr. Kliethermes tells women she mentors the same thing she tells her children. “Do what interests you. Follow your heart, follow your passion,” she said. “I never set my sights on advancement. I did the things that I was passionate about. I don’t know that I did anything in particular to be a leader, but I was always willing to do whatever needed to be done.”

Dr. Kliethermes encourages female pharmacists to “fight to practice at the level that you want to.” She noted that often it was physicians who helped her to do that, rather than fellow pharmacists. “Don’t accept ‘we’ve always done it that way.’ Fight for what you need,” she added.
Dr. Kliethermes believes that working part time can help mothers balance career and family life. “You don’t want to miss your children’s childhood,” she said. “Don’t miss events. Be there at games. Coach them. Be there for concerts when they can’t play the tuba very well. Be the driver — some of the best conversations with your children take place in the car.”

Dr. Kliethermes could not be prouder of her own four children and the paths they have chosen. They have all become “successful, independent, happy, well-adjusted people,” she said. “None went into pharmacy — they all chose what they should be.”

# # #

By: Ann W. Latner, JD

January 13, 2017

RADM Pam Schweitzer: Climbing Every Mountain

RADM Schweitzer hikes along the Sierra Crest just below the summit of Mt. Whitney, the highest peak in the contiguous United States.

THE INSPIRATIONAL SONG “Climb Every Mountain” from the well-loved movie “The Sound of Music” could be Rear Admiral (RADM) Pamela M. Schweitzer’s theme song — both literally and figuratively. RADM Schweitzer is a mountain climber both in real life and in the profession of pharmacy.

In 2014, RADM Schweitzer became the first woman ever appointed to the Chief Professional Officer (CPO) post with the United States Public Health Service (USPHS). In this role, she provides leadership and coordination of USPHS pharmacy programs and professional affairs for the Office of the Surgeon General and the Department of Health and Human Services.

Reaching this pinnacle is only one step in her long and impressive upward career climb. RADM Schweitzer received a B.A. in Biological Sciences from California State University Fullerton and earned her Pharm.D. from the University of California San Francisco School of Pharmacy. Her career has been long and distinguished, including leadership roles with the Indian Health Service and Veterans Administration. She has received numerous awards and honors, most recently ASHP’s William A. Zellmer Lecture Award, which recognizes exceptional leadership in advancing healthcare-related public policy.

Mentorship and support from colleagues have played an important role throughout RADM Schweitzer’s career. “I didn’t want to be considered for the job originally,” she said, referring to the CPO position. But her mentors encouraged her and gave her the confidence to apply. “What I didn’t originally realize about the position was how important it was to other women,” she said.

Support for Women Pharmacists

After RADM Schweitzer accepted the CPO position, she could see the challenges that other women pharmacists were facing. Frequently, junior officers would come to her for guidance about balancing career and family. To address these issues, she started a women’s leadership support group, which includes more than 110 commissioned core officers, mainly pharmacists.

RADM  Pamela M. Schweitzer

The group discusses numerous topics, particularly those related to work-life balance, including career decisions as they relate to balancing work and family, the importance of support, and leadership/management challenges. “Family first,” RADM Schweitzer often tells members of the group. “Learn to be smarter about where you put your energy. Where is your passion? If it’s your kids, do that! You learn leadership skills even by volunteering in your community.”

The support group also teaches women in leadership roles how to compartmentalize. “When you’re at work, you work,” explained RADM Schweitzer. “At home, you focus on family. Don’t let work brew in the back of your head. Turn it off.”

There are multiple support groups now located in different time zones. They usually meet once a month and periodically have special sessions on specific topics. One of the speakers at a recent meeting was RADM Schweitzer’s grown daughter, who spoke about what it was like to be the child of a mother with a professional career.

Meaningful Mentorship

RADM Schweitzer credits her mentors with much of her success. “I learned a lot about how to maneuver through a bureaucracy, best approaches to take in solving problems, and other soft skills needed when working with the C-suite,” she said. “Men tended to take me under their wing, giving really good advice — for instance, not showing facial expressions when in meetings or negotiating.”

RADM Schweitzer holds leadership support groups to encourage junior officers to use strategic thinking to solve problems.

RADM Schweitzer routinely spends her evenings mentoring women who are strategic thinkers, which positions them to be the next generation of leaders. “Strategic thinking is the most important skill that people need to learn in order to be a leader,” she said. “I tend to help people with the soft skills used in dealing with people and problems, or helping them understand the big picture of what they are trying to achieve. I also help to give them confidence and reinforce when they are on the right track. I use Myers-Briggs techniques all the time.”

She also mentors junior officers and admires how “they want to learn to make things happen.” RADM Schweitzer gives them projects and works collaboratively with them. “It helps them get off the ground, it helps to connect them, and it becomes obvious who the good ones are.”

RADM Schweitzer is happiest when she is challenged, which inspires her to challenge others. “People want to feel included and part of something that is making an impact,” she said, which is why RADM Schweitzer asks junior officers to help with simple projects and encourages them to participate in workgroups.  “I like to get [projects] off the ground, then train other people that I can pass the project off to. That’s another good way to mentor people.”

On the Up and Up

As a seasoned mountain climber, RADM Schweitzer sees many analogies between mountain climbing and pharmacy leadership. “Climbs take a lot of training,” said RADM Schweitzer. “You look at the mountain and it looks absolutely impossible, unachievable, unattainable — like the scope of a project. But one step at a time, staying focused on the mission and you get there. You may have to stop and adapt, or adjust what you are doing, but you keep going and you don’t give up.”

RADM Schweitzer on the summit of Mt. Rainier.

She has climbed Mt. Rainier, Mt. Kilimanjaro, and many other geologic giants. She noted that scaling Mt. Rainier was particularly rough, requiring the use of ropes to cross glacial ravines. “You’re going up, and people along the way are dropping … but you just keep going. Something inside keeps pushing you,” said RADM Schweitzer. That push, she noted, is what is needed to attain leadership positions as well.

One of the secrets to RADM Schweitzer’s success is keeping things in perspective and looking at the bigger picture. She admits that always doing the right thing can be difficult. Early in her career, she used to avoid people she didn’t get along with, but she eventually realized that wasn’t productive. RADM Schweitzer learned to turn conflicts into something constructive. “I needed to see the world from their view and figure out what they wanted. I needed to be strategic,” she said.

Ask Women to Lead

When it comes to being promoted into leadership roles, RADM Schweitzer encourages women to speak up and ask for what they want. In her experience, women are less likely than men to speak up in group settings, unless the group is comprised primarily of women.

Women in leadership positions can help other women by asking them to contribute in meetings and giving them kudos when they make a good point. “Women need that encouragement more than men do,” said RADM Schweitzer. “I help by calling on them, saying ‘Hey, what do you think? I’d like to hear your thoughts.’ It makes a difference.”

A look at RADM Schweitzer’s career makes it clear that with inner drive, support from mentors, and strategic thinking, women can climb to the top.

# # #

Powered by WordPress