Sunday, March 2, 2014

Administration Rotation at the University of Michigan

Posted by Patrick at Sunday, March 02, 2014

I’ve long thought that I had a fair idea of what it meant to be “a busy person.” A glance at the schedules of Dr. Jim Stevenson (UMHS’s Chief Pharmacy Officer) and Dr. John Clark (UMHS’s Director of Pharmacy) overhauled my idea of what I thought “busy” meant. Their days are packed with meetings, generally from 8 am to 5 pm with few or no gaps, except for the occasional 15 or 30 minutes set aside for travel from one meeting to another. In order to have time during the day to “accomplish work,” in the traditional sense, they need to pre-emptively set aside blocks of time explicitly for that purpose. It was clear to me immediately that keeping up with the chaotic schedule of high level administrators was going to be a wild ride.

The rotation is subdivided into three major components: attending relevant meetings that expose the student to new aspects of administrative responsibilities, project time to work on ways to improve processes and advance pharmacy, and job introduction meetings with various other members of the administrative team. The student’s time is split approximately 45%, 45%, and 10% between these components respectively.

I’m proud to have successfully completed several interesting projects. My major project was a cost analysis of the feasibility of bringing some currently outsourced compounded products back into the UMHS fold. I met with a variety of pharmacy team members, gathering the relevant data and expertise, processed the data (in Excel, of course), and moved the project forward to the point where we could make a decision about the status of particular products.

The deepest thing I learned in my five weeks with Dr. Clark and Dr. Stevenson is about the information flow in a large organization and the way that institutional knowledge is distributed. A project of any considerable size requires extensive coordination between many individuals scattered throughout the department. This coordination role, bringing people with the relevant subject matter expertise together, is a key component of what makes an administrator successful.

As we darted from one meeting to the next, and the days turned into weeks, I also began to develop a feel for the deeper processes at work in the life of an administrator. Most accomplishments take place on a much longer time horizon than for front line employees. The question “what projects have I moved forward this month?” is in some ways much more relevant than “what did I accomplish today?” The understanding I gained from my time with Dr. Stevenson and Dr. Clark will inform my experiences in the coming years in any practice environment. 

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