Recently I was recruited to be an interim Director of Pharmacy at a behavioral health and chemical dependency hospital. I accepted this temporary role; the hospital needed help, I wanted the experience, and making some extra income was good for me too.
The hospital administration out of urgency sought a pharmacy service outsource management company to get them on track. The outsource firm brought in their own Corporate Director of Pharmacy to set things in motion to go to their company way. This is common, a Corporate Director of Pharmacy is a nomad, traveling from one hospital to another filling in until a permanent director is hired. I then was brought in to be an interim pharmacist in charge until they interviewed and hired a full time director.
What should be a simple role to slide into, wasn’t. The Corporate Director had little time to learn everything from the outgoing pharmacist. The Corporate Director was stressed. She exhibited anxiety, frustration, and despair. The challenge became that she the teacher, could not adequately teach me, the student. No one can learn from someone that does not know.
I began to relish the challenge, it was an opportunity! An old saying popped into my head, “If it is to be, it is up to me.” The Corporate Director was off to another gig, I was now on my own. I was able to write on a clean slate. I began to seek out answers on my own. I could find no notes, no policy & procedure manuals, no guide books. Hospital administration had left pharmacy to operate totally on its own. There was no knowledge of pharmacy billing to patients, no apparent budget, no checks and balances. This was absolutely amazing. What an opportunity to provide leadership, to organize, and to create an efficient operation. The hospital was seeking leadership and I was going to provide it.
Memories of the movie, The American President came to mind. Lewis Rothschild described people and leadership so well when he asserted, “People want leadership, Mr. President, and in the absence of genuine leadership they’ll listen to anyone who steps up to the microphone. They want leadership. They’re so thirst for it they’ll crawl through the desert toward a mirage. When they discover there is no water there, they’ll drink the sand.”
Pharmacy administration was becoming a crisis. So first—stop the crisis. Focus on one challenge at a time. It is nearly time for flu shot season again and I find out that flu vaccine was not pre-booked. Two simple phone calls and an email accomplished that. I needed power of attorney to order controlled drugs—took care of that.
Next, I am seeking help on billing. They should want to assist me, after all its their revenue that is at risk.
Once again, I see struggling leadership in healthcare. Other industries perhaps struggle with many of the same issues. Communication is poor. Or too many silos in the work place. Leadership is aloof. Executives maintain an elitist attitude causing the organization to struggle. Tribal knowledge, that unwritten information that is not commonly known by others within a company. The smaller an organization the greater tribal knowledge becomes a major challenge when someone leaves.
Right now, I am focusing on communication and striving to make it simple. Their is beauty in simplicity.
Where is your organization on sharing knowledge with each other? Ask, “What would happen if a particular colleague would leave?”