When accepting an assignment to be the interim director of pharmacy for a small hospital, one could not help but wonder what the situation is at the facility. Regardless of what one is told, you can always count on a surprise.
The first day was typical and expected. First, go to the lab for drug testing of illicit drugs that could be present. Next, see a representative in Human Resources to provide some orientation and take some tests regarding hospital policy and handling of private patient information. Then the Human Resources Director introduces the interim director of pharmacy to the person to whom they report, the Chief Nursing Officer. While discussing the hospital, both hospital leaders suggested that the pharmacist applies for the Director of Pharmacy position. A red flag became apparent. Why so quick to recommend the interim pharmacist for the position.
The pharmacist is escorted to the pharmacy to meet the staff. At once, red flag #2 appeared. The new pharmacist was going to be the sole pharmacist except for some weekend coverage. The new director had only three days with the outgoing pharmacist; this third red flag was painting a gloomy picture. Another red flag, the director of the pharmacy resigned and had been gone for four weeks; there was no one to provide a smooth transition. One other pharmacist was on maternity leave and not due back to work for three months.
Long hours of ten to fourteen hours days ensued. One had no opportunity to tend to administrative matters spending all time fulfilling medication orders for patients. Furthermore, the new director discovered that the hospital was struggling financially. Leadership was lacking. Organizational processes were awry. Staffing was reduced drastically and showed signs of burnout and stress.
The prudent interim when asked if we would apply for the Director of Pharmacy position, respectfully declined to the frustration and dismay of the hospital leadership.
A few days had passed when the CNO asked the interim director whether he enjoyed the travel and being at different locations. The pharmacist honestly replied, “at times it can be a challenge, and yes travel can become old.” She quickly quipped, “You had your chance!”
Finally, a new Director of Pharmacy was hired and on board. The CNO wanted to have a meeting with the new Director and the pharmacy technicians, telling the interim pharmacist to “hold down the fort.” Again the now outgoing interim director was told by the CNO, “You had your chance.”
It begs the question. A chance for what? Long hours, ineffective leadership, high expectations with little support, no appreciation, and questionable integrity. A situation like this is a sure chance for failure.
That is a “chance” worth passing.