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How Does One “Wear Many Hats?”


bradgphilbrick@gmail.com
I’m sure that most of us have heard that expression, someone saying that job requires wearing many hats.  Where did that saying come from?  I was curious and besides etymology is another area of interest.
It turns out that this is a relatively new metaphor, around the mid-1900s.  Then nearly everyone wore a hat or cap and many were specific to a given trade.  Think about it.  Nurses, religious leaders, railroad workers (engineers and conductors hats were distinguishable), miners, cowboys, postal workers, construction laborers, accountants, firemen, and police.  Someone then who had several roles would have several hats and would wear the appropriate one for the occasion.
Many of the hats actually worn are gone, but now more than ever most of us in our roles, indeed “wear many hats.”  I’m remembering too, another old expression, “I’m the chief cook and bottle washer.”  Entrepreneurs, sole proprietors, the self-employed know full well how that rings true.
As a pharmacy director there were several meetings to attend — manager’s meetings, safety meetings, planning meetings, pharmacy & therapeutics meetings, and on and on.  Meetings such as these were enjoyable and often challenging.  These were times to be creative, visionary, forward thinking, and spending more time on the organization as a whole entity, and not necessarily individual parts.
Then there were times I was required to fill in as a staff pharmacist.  It’s detail.  Levothyroxine is dosed in increments of 12.5 micrograms (mcg).  Verifying that a prepared IV bag was administered the exact amount of medication, 1 ml could be significant.  Verifying doctor’s orders, checking my own work, checking the pharmacy technicians’ work, and it’s all vitally important.  And again, its detail oriented.
It can be challenging switching between these major responsibilities.  Each of us have one area where we excel and would rather spend our time.  Success simply requires that you focus on one thing.  I was “no longer” the pharmacy director when I was “staffing.”
It is OK to be dual-minded.  Today’s work environment demands it.  Often needs to be highly creative, an excellent communicator (both oral and written) but can also be process driven, think scale and rely on data to make decisions.
How are you dealing with the need to be dual-minded in your career?