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The rewards in pharmacy need work

In pharmacy, the work and the rewards are what you make them. Putting the work in the right way yields the right rewards.

Spring is well underway, which means I am deep in triathlon training (“are you nuts, WHY?”)

I have many reasons for choosing triathlon, among them the physical challenges and mental preparation, the break from work and winter hockey coaching it provides, the highlighting importance of proper sleep and nutrition and much more. 

But there is one thing triathlon always delivers on. There is a theme that runs through each workout, each week of the training plan and each race. And it's simple: work for your reward

You can buy a lot of expensive gear to look fast. You can go to conferences to plan being fast. You can say you will commit to an insane training, eating and sleeping schedule. But if you want to go faster, you need to put in the work.

And on race day, you always find out.

Like triathlon, the rewards in pharmacy are correlated with the invested work.

Committing to understanding the regular patterns of patient calls, incoming Rx volume, front store traffic, staff habits and potential, seasonal trends and community events provides opportunities to learn what’s coming and shape workflow around the pieces of these within our control.

This takes work. Some pharmacists punch in and wait for the prescriptions to arrive, reactively working behind the eight ball the rest of the day.  They deal with what comes to them, at the mercy of when patients, prescribers and staff decide to present to them.

Other pharmacists, put in significant work building systems and habits that get ahead of the job. After some time invested perfecting these processes, they appear to be driving instead of waiting; leading instead of reacting. Their 200 Rx/day feels like 50 Rxs so they take on more clinical and business responsibilities, allowing them to further get ahead of more work. They are gurus in generating exceptional results without the traditional incremental effort.

These pharmacists interview for future vacancies and draft a staff development pipeline continuum that keeps patient care rolling seamlessly for decades. They train the various staff positions to cover the next-level-skill positions to cover vacations. They draft reminder calendars for weekly to do's that turn into productive months. They draft reminder calendars for monthly to do's that turn into productive years.  They build, then maintain pharmacy automation systems like central fill, autofill refill reminders, IVR/mobile app refill ordering, perpetual inventory, batch billing of compliance packaging, implement vaccine appointment booking software and keep vaccine trackers for patients in vaccine series regimens. They empower people to build upon pre-decided skeletons, allowing a scaled productivity beyond what they can cultivate themselves. 

This way of thinking is a different kind of work that is preventative and non-urgent in nature, aimed at reducing repetitive daily efforts and freeing up clinical patient care time.

In pharmacy, the work and the rewards are what you make them. Putting the work in the right way yields the right rewards.

What 3 repetitive elements are preventing you from getting ahead? How can they be automated or delegated while you fix something else that only you can fix?

Learn a little more about the mentality that rewards pharmacists with freedom to invent great workflow, freedom to work more directly with patients, freedom to work on their business and freedom to optimize what’s coming (e.g., minor ailments in Ontario) at and check out the Labcoat to Leader course for what they can’t teach us in pharmacy school.




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