Skip to main content

No longer invisible: shifting from do-er to thinker as a pharmacist

In any given hour the always accessible, no-appointment needed, world’s number one trusted health care provider has phones ringing, patients in the aisles looking for recommendations, patients waiting in the counselling room for vaccines, deliveries arriving.

Let’s talk about the constantly interruptive climate a pharmacist works in. In any given hour the always accessible, no-appointment needed, world’s number one trusted health care provider has phones ringing, patients in the aisles looking for recommendations, patients waiting in the counselling room for vaccines, deliveries arriving, patients dropping off prescriptions and others picking up. They have staff needing answers and doctors faxing (yes, faxing!) and someone incessantly asking where the Q-tips are. 

If not careful, the pharmacist will have to restart an important clinical thought more often than penicillin for strep throat.

To do this job well, for a long time, the pharmacist must have one thing: 

The Right Mindset

Through practising over a decade and a half, I have come to realize that my role as a pharmacist and a manager of people and business is best served as a Thinker, instead of a Do-er. 

Jason diagram#1
Jason diagram#1

The Do-er

The do-er resembles my fresh-grad model where I was a very busy doing plenty of heavy lifting, putting out fires and managing urgent, non-important work that others could do. 

This philosophy organically leads to micromanaging staff since there is little time for coaching and change. It’s a nose-to-the-ground, zoomed-in grind where the most responsible person on the team has no time to work on the most responsible decisions. 

The Thinker

The thinker is the more experienced, work smarter-not-harder version of the new pharmacy grad. This pharmacist understands that while delegating is difficult, it is necessary to protect themselves, their teams, their business and their patients. If the most responsible person in the dispensary does not work on the zoomed-out big picture strategy, no one else will and the pharmacy begins its slow and steady erosion. 

The thinker resembles a shareholder more than a manager. They contribute on upstream tasks, not necessarily the parts of putting pills in a bottle or needles below the dermis. They solve important, yet non-urgent problems that will eventually happen later. They prevent fires by assembling and developing people and supporting the creation of systems. 

They autonomously allow others to make decisions along a skeleton, constantly making one per cent improvements. Their teams are often smaller yet punch above their weight-class due to having a higher individual purpose and a real reason to come to work. Staff feel fulfilled, have higher job satisfaction and less turnover. 

How can pharmacists start acting more like thinkers?

Let others make decisions just beyond your comfort zone. The pharmacy assistant can decide when compliance packs need to be prepared and how far into the future they are produced. 

The front shop staff can draft their own schedule for you to review. The pharmacy assistants can decide how many vaccines you will administer on which days and how far apart patients will come in. 

If you manage, then allow the pharmacists to decide which supplies to order, how your total support staff hours are distributed among which times of day, if you will sell behind-the-counter codeine products, or how best to fairly allocate vacation. 

The shareholder works hard behind the scenes as the glue between the various pieces of a complex puzzle, ensuring the best decision are made, the right people are working on the right things and preparing the operation to not only handle what’s coming, but harness it. 

If the shareholder is doing their job, no one knows what they do and the problems are small (like finding the Q-tips).

 

 

 

Jason Graph #2
Jason Graph #2

More Blog Posts in This Series

X
This ad will auto-close in 10 seconds