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Are you using GPS to recalculate your pharmacy leadership?

For a kid who grew up on a farm in rural Pennsylvania, it only makes sense that I would want to become a pharmacist, right? It only makes sense that in 2007, I would find myself accepting a promotion to help develop clinical programs for pharmacists across multiple states. 

What started as excitement soon turned to concern as it hit me like a ton of bricks that I would now be finding myself in some of the largest cities in North America. To clarify, what gave me pause about the large the cities was not the people, but the traffic. Over the years, I have found myself in the wrong lane of traffic about to enter another state (or even country). In those early days, this was very stressful to me, because I had my printed-out directions and if something – anything – went wrong, then I would find myself in a whole lot of trouble.

 But then, my wife got me my first GPS system and my level of stress decreased dramatically.

By now, we can likely all relate in having an address entered into the GPS, but then something comes up and we need to correct course. What does that smooth-talking voice say to us? “Recalculating….”

This can be so helpful, if we choose to use this tool. Because we can be disoriented by any number of things. A road that is closed. Traffic that is jammed up. Perhaps there is some emergency blocking the way we intended to use. Things come up all the time that can throw us off course. 

This is so true for our leadership as well. A member of our staff is sick and can’t come to work. A drug is on backorder. A phone won’t stop ringing. A storm knocks out the electricity. Even a global pandemic, which disrupts every facet of life as we know it.

We can get knocked off course. 

Sometimes we can find ourselves off course and not even realize it! I can recall a time I was driving in Philadelphia and the skyscrapers were choking out my GPS. I was reasonably sure I was heading in the right direction, but GPS couldn’t connect with the satellites to verify where I was. In the pharmacy, this may look like a tidal wave of prescriptions. Or a patient with a LOT of questions. You were doing the things you thought you should be doing, but before you knew it, you found yourself somewhat off track.

That's the time to take the time recalculate. We need to be able to check where we are and make sure we are moving in the direction we want to go. This doesn’t happen by accident. We all need to be connected to fixed points, just like a GPS. And we may need to check those connections more frequently, especially when the conditions are challenging. 

Over the last few articles, I have made a couple of suggestions that can serve as fixed points for us. Feel free to accept, reject or amend those suggestions as you see fit. But once you have them, be sure to review them with some regularity. This will keep you locked in on the direction you are heading and to which you are leading others as you become their GPS.

Until next time -

Jesse McCullough, PharmD

Connect with Jesse on LinkedIn


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