Thursday, August 19, 2010

Like Father, Like Son

Posted by Jim Stevenson at Thursday, August 19, 2010

I may have gone to “Take your son/daughter to work day” once during elementary school, but I don’t recall it too well. I’d like to think that my understanding of and appreciation for my father’s job has progressed a bit since second grade. Really though, entering P4 year, I still didn’t have a good idea of what my father, or the rest of the large pharmacy administrative staff, did on a day-to-day basis. Are their roles something I could see myself doing? Are administrative skills genetically heritable? These are the questions I set out to answer during my first rotation.

Aside from honing my clinical skills and preparing myself for a potential residency, one of my main objectives of my P4 year was to get a better idea of how I might best apply myself in the field of pharmacy. I also considered administration to be one of the practice areas that you experience “now or never”. After speaking to the administrators at the hospital, I’ve learned that I was wrong about this “now or never” mentality, as many of them started out in other areas and didn’t even initially consider management. But that’s the spirit of P4 year – being wrong and then learning the truth.

My preceptor is Dr. Paul Walker, the Assistant Director of Pharmacy Clinical Services at UMHS. To my surprise, his meetings and projects to not overlap very much with my father’s (my father has his own P4 student this month, Doug Ritchie). I spend about half of my time each day attending meetings with Dr. Walker and about half of my time working on independent projects that I later relay to Dr. Walker.

One of the expectations for students on the administrative rotations is to meet with each of the Assistant Directors. We then find out what they do, how they got there, and how their role interplays with the other administrators. That’s been an interesting aspect of this rotation, as I now know who is in charge of what and the career paths they took to get there.

Another aspect of the rotation I have enjoyed is information on quality improvement in our hospital pharmacy. I’ve always enjoyed research and interpreting numbers, and administrative quality improvement takes those concepts and uses them to improve patient care and the financial efficiency of our services. In the Information Age, we have a lot of numbers at our fingertips, and this will only grow as our health system continues to advance Computerized Physician Order Entry and our software systems.

One Jim Stevenson has already chosen the administrative path. Will there be another? That remains to be seen – I’m barely half way through my first rotation!

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