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How can pharmacists lead up, up and away?

One of the most important ways we lead is by leading up. This is key for a number of reasons. Perhaps most notably, it is because when we lead up, we make life easier for our boss. And in turn, our boss can make life easier for us. And if you are serving on a team with others who have the same boss, life can improve for all of you!

In previous meetings, we have touched upon the fact that pharmacists have many directions they need to lead.  While this is true for pharmacists, it is also true for everyone else.  We all need to lead to lead up, down and across

Who is “UP”?

It is probably best to start off with some definitions.  After all, we might as well be on the same page. My definition of leading up is how we influence anyone that has direct authority over you. In a work situation, it would be your boss. At home, it may be your spouse or your parent. While these relationships have a different rigidity to them, we understand that if your spouse or parent “asks” you to do something, for all intents and purposes, they are “telling” you to do something.  (Surely, I am not the only one to ever emerge from the bedroom to be greeted with the question, “You aren’t going to wear that, are you?”)

Maybe, just maybe, this idea of leading up sounds uncomfortable to you. It probably does. It is likely due to not recognizing the need or the opportunity to lead up. I cannot even put a number on the conversations I have with people about the issues they have with their bosses. 

Consider this: if you have ever been frustrated at work, you likely need to lead up. 

When the shingles vaccine was first made available, we were in the early stages of building out our immunization program. We had a limited number of immunizing pharmacists, and they were peppered all over the place. Now add to that a couple of complexities with the vaccine. The first was that patients 65 years old and older were required to get the vaccine at the pharmacy. The second was that many local governing bodies did not yet allow this. Where I come from, we call this a conundrum!

I saw this as a huge opportunity. There were hundreds of patients in the communities we serve who were eligible for the vaccine and were essentially cut off from this treatment because of reasons beyond their control. So, my colleague, Ben, and I started to work this through. We understood that while we could process the product at the pharmacy, we couldn’t administer the product at the pharmacy. But that didn’t mean someone else couldn't. 

So, we worked out this quick and dirty business plan on how we could hire nurses, who could administer the vaccine, to come into the pharmacy for three or four hours and we would schedule appointments every 5-10 minutes. Keep in mind, there was huge frustration in the marketplace. Pharmacies were being contacted every day by people looking to be vaccinated. Pharmacy managers were turning away thousands of dollars in revenue and profit. They were hurting for a solution.

What did I do? Come back next week to found out.

Until next time –

Jesse McCullough, PharmD

Connect with Jesse on LinkedIn


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