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Archive for August, 2014

Stuck in the Waiting Room Before Group Therapy for Overachievers Anonymous

Sunday, August 31st, 2014

waitingroom2So, I had a new friend reach out to me recently (we met online) and s/he and I were discussing career development.  This is a person who has multiple degrees, has practiced those within those multiple professional areas, and now is questioning “what’s next?”  It’s ALWAYS a great idea to pause, take a look around, and ask this tough question.

A LOT of my highly skilled, super-smart friends are in this situation right now.  I call it the perception of being stuck in waiting room before group therapy in overachievers anonymous.  I have a lot of really smart, uber talented friends who are in this waiting room, and have been there now for years.  They feel stuck.  And, even though the economy appears to be recovering a bit, it’s still not great (in my opinion).

If you suffer from this affliction, as so many do, I’ll share with you what I shared with her/him while hanging out in the waiting room.  Ready?

1. Careers are gardens – not ladders.  You already know how I feel about this.  And it’s true.  No one job is ever going to be perfect.  (Whatever “perfect” means.)

2. Realize that no one job, (much like no one person) is going to be everything, solve all your problems, or make you 100% happy.  Newsflash: jobs are just that. Jobs. They’re not designed to make YOU happy – they are designed for you to WORK for a company.  Companies don’t care about your happiness.  YOU have to care about your own happiness.  Once you realize this, it can in many ways set you free.  (And I won’t even go into those who feel that finding their “soulmates” think that one person is going to be their savior either…that’s really way too long for this post.)

Satisfaction, happiness, completion, harmony and ikigai–come from within.  You’re never going to find them in external forces.

3.  Maybe you need to do a lot of things at once, or have a portfolio, multipational career in order to be happy.  I’ve often argued that to put all your career eggs into one basket is a dangerous thing anyway…but beyond the safety net, maybe you just need a lot of creative input by doing multiple things or having multiple interests in your life (like me).  As early as high school, I “suffered” or “benefited” from this (whichever way you choose to look at it).  I was in band–played multiple instruments. I sang. I acted. I was a quiz bowl team member. I did a lot of extra curricular stuff – and I LOVE that it worked different parts of my brain.

If you can identify with this – realize as I have that you may need to feed your soul through multiple channels, rather than just one.

4.  Work on being 100% you.  As I’ve said before, the world will LOVE to push back on your work and say that you’re too this, too that, blah blah blah.  The universe loves to challenge you with your own authenticity…and it is a test.  (I just read an article about this test too – in that some feel it’s the way to weed out those candidates who don’t really want a new gig vs. the ones that do – by the hiring manager literally challenging the candidate on this very point.)

On this point, when I’m personally challenged, I always think of the line that Liam Neeson’s character in the movie Taken says to his daughter’s kidnappers:

  • But what I do have are a very particular set of skills, skills I have acquired over a very long career.”

Your skill set is very particular as well.  It won’t be for everyone – and I’m here to declare THAT’S OK!  You (and/or your skill set) may not be everyone’s cup of tea.  Great!  That means you can move on and find where your particular skill set IS valued.  Where you WILL be helpful to the universe.  Don’t settle until you find that place!

In conclusion, if you feel stuck in the waiting room before group therapy for overachievers anonymous, congrats.  That’s actually a pretty cool place to be – even though you may feel stuck.  You’re never stuck. In fact, I think if you really ponder the bullets above, you may realize that you have the freedom to walk out or move on.  Besides, what usually happens right before major positive change is frustration. Angst. Questioning.  So if you’re there – push yourself a bit to maybe move out of that waiting room, and create your best life now, before waiting for someone else to hand it to you.  Because if you keep on waiting…you’re going to be waiting for a long, long time.

*Image from:

The Cool Pharmacy Career Toolkit: Pharmacy Times & Pharmacy Careers

Saturday, August 30th, 2014

Inevitably – I get these random emails or faceplace messages from grads that ask what else is out there for pharmacists after graduation and working a couple of years.

Obviously, my first response was to write a book about it–46 Doses.

But, Pharmacy Careers and Pharmacy Times have given me the opportunity to feature real world pharmacists doing really amazing things in the world.  This is where I’m going to house the links over the coming months.  I’ve written, and will continue to write, some amazing stuff going on out there in the world o’ pharmacy.

The column has two different types of posts within the series.

1. Story: Y-O-U – The first type of posts will be more personal–to unearth the biggest mystery of all–YOU.  I’ll give tips and tricks that I use with students on a regular basis for pharmacists to stop and do a reality check on themselves.

2. Spotlight in Practice (or, you can be what you can see) – The second type of post features an actual real-world pharmacist out there rocking – doing amazing stuff – changing and thinking about practice a little differently.  I personally think that YOU CAN BE WHAT YOU CAN SEE – so it’s my job as a writer to find those doing cool, unusual work to inspire others to hop on board the cool/amazing/different/creative train in pharmacy practice and healthcare.

As the links and stories come online, I’ll keep putting them in here.  Here are the first few:

I’ll be filling in the rest of the bullets as the year rolls on.  In the meantime, if YOU are a cool pharmacist doing interesting things in your work, or you know someone who is – let me know! I want to share your brilliance with the rest of the world – so maybe if nothing else, I can inspire a new generation of pharmacists to get out there, find their interesting corners of practice, and blow them up into something that is unique, one-of-a-kind, and feeds not only their pocketbooks, but their souls.

Data vs. Stories: What Really Matters

Friday, August 29th, 2014

deerIt’s Friday after a very long week – how about a joke?

A biologist, a chemist and a statistician go hunting.  They stumble upon a 10 point buck.  The chemist takes aim and shoots, but misses the buck 10 feet to the left.  The biologist takes a shot as well, but misses ten feet to the right.

The statistician exclaims, “WE GOT HIM!!!!”*

This joke has stuck with me all week when a friend (another pharmacy geek like me) told me this last weekend.

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about assessment of learning – as you know.  One thing educators LOVE to parade about in the area of evidence of learning is DATA.  Stats.  Points.  Numbers.  But I’m here to declare this: data and numbers can say whatever you want or need them to say.  What I think REALLY matters in education are things like:

-The stories, experiences, and feelings around learning
-The projects students worked on–particularly in groups
-The products of the stories and projects

Think back to your own educational experience and your favorite moments in learning.  Did they involve data?  Furthermore, do you remember the stats around the experience?  No!  You remember the EXPERIENCE ITSELF.  You remember how you FELT about the experience and the learning.  You remember the stories of the learning experience.  Not the statistics.

So–to all those in the Department of Education and those who love to teach to the next test, so you can crunch your numbers–I say, boo.  Shame on you for just being about the numbers when it comes to student learning.  Instead – I’ll be focusing on the stories around learning.  Those rich, unforgettable moments when the light bulb comes on for students.  Those are the things that have true meaning in learning.

Besides, long after you leave this tiny post – what are you going to remember? Numbers, or the 10 point buck?

My money is on the buck…

*The photo is from, and is not technically a 10 point buck.  No actual deer were harmed to form this post.  No deer were even harmed in the joke itself.

Too: AKA, The Goldilocks Excuse

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

Too big.

Too small.

Too much.

Too little.

Too long.

Too short.

We all love to use the Goldilocks excuse to find flaws in ourselves, and each other. You name it, she/he/it is too ______.  Apparently, we want ‘just right’ – whatever that means.  We love to try and talk people out of who they really are at times.  Why?

As I research my new book, one of my interviewees said that he’s 100% transparent, because he HAS to be transparent about who he is…it’s not like he can hide any portion of who he is, because he’s in the public sphere and all his jobs are public.  Why hide it?

I’m here to tell you that you are just right, even if you are too _____. You are who and what you are.  Embrace it. Own it. Be it. Because you ARE it…and there’s nothing wrong with that.

After all, everyone else is taken!

Ikigai, Values and Pharmacy Careers

Sunday, August 24th, 2014

I’m grateful to the folks over at Pharmacy Times, to have given me the shot at writing a regular column for them moving forward over the next year on pharmacy careers.  It will appear in their quarterly digital publication, Pharmacy Careers.

The first of the series was posted this weekend – on finding one’s ikigai, or what I like to call – one’s best life. (OK, I’ll share that one with Oprah.)  Anyway, I start with something I’ve ranted about here several times, but bears repeating, which is the following:

What do you value?

I shared in the column what I value.  But that’s not important.  What’s important is – what do YOU value? If you don’t know, figure it out.  Your values are embedded in everything you do, whether or not you are conscious about it.

We live in an era of authenticity.  One of the things I tell the college students is that it is their job to know themselves better than anyone else – and that starts with a values assessment.

Assess! Go forth and discover the best expedition that life has to offer – FINDING YOURSELF.


6 Current Obsessions

Saturday, August 23rd, 2014

1. Big Black Delta. After listening to the latest album, I went over to their Faceplace page, where I saw a bunch of black cat photos. Now, I love them even more. Caution: they have a kind of retro 80s sound.

2. Water.  As in, will future generations have enough?

3. Assessment of learning, particularly in the realm of entrepreneurship.

4. Failure. (I just can’t let this one go.)

5. Spain. For obvious reasons.

6. Tiny spaces. As in, I want one.

When Will Water Become the New Oil?

Friday, August 22nd, 2014

Waverly STEM PrincessToday, I’ve been thinking a lot about…water.

Much like health, I think we all (myself included) take potable water for granted.  We just flip on the faucet and assume it’s going to pour out and be safe to drink.  The assumption that we’re always going to have it around in this fashion is…disturbing.

Just look at this article out of Detroit about their water problem.  If you saw on the national news the other night, Lake Mead is at a record (14 year) low, and this is a source of water for several states.  Meanwhile, in Arizona just this week were floods.  Even right here where I hang, Indiana, the state chamber put out a rather disturbing report on water and how it ties into our economy.  This is happening right here in OUR OWN country, my peeps! Not the middle of the desert on the other side of the Earth!

Now, for those of you thinking – wait a minute, we’ve got the oceans – keep in mind that is salt water.  Less than .5% of the total water on Earth is potable.  Desalinization is still cumbersome.

Friends, mother nature is tricky.  While we fight over oil in many countries, I’m pondering how long it will take us to start globally fighting over another precious resource that we are taking for granted, water.  This scares me.

There’s a major educational opportunity here.  If we can train the next generation to preserve water and treat it as the very precious resource that it truly is, we can slow down this massive drought of ignorance.  I’ll admit it – I AM IGNORANT when it comes to clever ways to preserve water – so I looked it up! Here are some thoughts:

1. CDC has some thoughts on making water safehere.

2. The Alliance for Water Stewardshiphere.

3. Study Dr. Elinor Ostrom’s work on commons – including waterhere’s a bit on it.

4. 25 Ways for Preserving Water in Homes and Yardshere.

5. Water conservation at the community levelby Penn State.

Water is absolutely essential to life.  Without it, we and the creatures we share this planet with will die.  I don’t mean to be gloom and doom, but I am worried about this problem, as it becomes more apparent to me.  If I just get you to think about this for a minute or two (or more, as I have over the past couple of weeks) I think we could all make some serious positive changes…not only for ourselves, but for future generations.

Is Social Media Use an Ethical Professional Obligation for Healthcare Professionals?

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

PrincessPiperSTEMPrincessI was lucky enough in May to attend Mayo Clinic’s Social Media Residency Program.  First, as an outsider, I was impressed that ALL Mayo employees were welcome to attend the residency program.  But second, I’ve also subsequently been lucky enough to watch their blog from afar since the live training (or, rather, they push their blog to my inbox every morning, which is one of the few things I actually read on a regular basis in my inbox).

An interesting comment was posted recently by Lee Aase, the Director of the Social Media Center at Mayo, where he stated the following in this post:

  • “…social media should be recognized as tools health care professionals are expected to use, and that effective application of social media is part of professionalism.”

I’m going to let that sink into your brain for a second, especially if you are a healthcare professional.

While I can’t speak to what they are teaching students in other healthcare programs, I can tell you that in pharmacy, professionalism is front and center.  In fact, in the ACPE 2016 draft guidelines (of which pharmacy schools are held to as our accrediting body), professionalism is all over the draft guidance document and standards.  Here are just a few draft standards that are applicable to professionalism and social media:

  1. “3.2 Education – The graduate [pharmacy student] must be able to educate all audiences by determining the most effective and enduring ways to impart information and assess learning.
  2. 3.6 Communication – The graduate [pharmacy student] must be able to effectively communicate verbally and nonverbally when interacting with individuals, groups, and organizations.
  3. 4.4 Professionalism – The graduate [pharmacy student] must be able to exhibit behaviors and values that are consistent with the trust given to the profession by patients, other healthcare providers, and society.” (ACPE 2016 Draft Standards)

Next, watch this video (which I believe is also in Lee’s talk above).  The item that blew me away in the video is that one college has altogether stopped sending email to students.  Wha…?!?

If you bundle all this together – in order to educate and communicate as a professional, you have to go where the audience is – right?  If that’s true, and social media is now the predominant platform where people get their news, share their lives, and learn about society – shouldn’t pharmacists as professionals therefore be right there in the middle of social media land?  Do we have an ethical, professional obligation to be there?

I’m not going to push it and say that social media management should be part of mandatory healthcare curricula just yet.  That may be too revolutionary for today.  But, I will say that I think we need to go there.  I’m there personally, as I’ve been part of the inception of the Social Media Dames Unconference Series in Indiana (which, by the way, tickets are now on sale for the November 20, 2014 event in Indianapolis here.)  It’s now more than “hide your Facebook profile” when it comes to professionalism, social media, and the internet for healthcare pros.  If we are truly trying to keep costs low, educate, communicate and be true helpers of public health and wellness of society at large, shouldn’t we go where the masses are?

I’ll leave this for you to ponder today…


The Pastophor

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

I’ve had my design thinking hat on this week about some other things…which had me thinking tonight about the following:

Why do physicians prescribe drugs?

The physicians are diagnosticians, from my understanding.  But why should they get to pick the “best” drug for a patient, when:
a. they don’t necessarily know what else the patient is taking, (and yes, there are some very fatal and very nasty drug-drug interactions out there to be worried about)
b. they didn’t have as much pharmacology training as an actual pharmacist, and
c. they typically don’t know what’s on the patient’s preferred formulary for their prescription benefit plan.

Common sense aside for a moment, I dug around history tonight to understand what the origins of this split between the physician as prescriber and the pharmacist as dispenser happened.

I’m still not totally sure, to be honest.  But, the one thing I stumbled upon was the pastophor.  This was, in ancient Egypt – a physician and pharmacist in one.  The pastophor diagnosed, treated and prepared medicine for the patient.  They were allegedly “highly respected” in society and pharmacy, or the preparation of medicine, was considered a specialty within medicine.  (I found that here, on page 25.)

Now, let’s flip over to NPR, where tonight, I also saw an interview with a cardiologist about his new book, basically about the problems with our healthcare system in the U.S., inter alia (and no, I haven’t had a chance to read the book yet).  Part of the interview talks about some docs (NOT ALL) ordering excessive diagnostic tests for patients.  Now, of course, we have a few laws called Stark and Antikickback that don’t allow docs to be vertical marketers anymore.

I guess through reading part of the first reference above, pharmacists in England couldn’t get their act together (meaning they didn’t have standards of education and experience established), which led to physicians making the call on drugs, and having licensed pharmacists (rather than snake oil salesmen or untrained chemists) fill the prescriptions instead.

Here’s my bottom line: I’m inconclusive here.  It kind of makes sense (at least from a design thinking perspective) that the doctor may be great a diagnosing the patient, then putting on paper or ePrescription the diagnosis – then handing the DIAGNOSIS over to the pharmacist INSTEAD of the drug, and letting the drug expert decide on which drug is best/cheapest/on formulary for the patient…?  Maybe? Perhaps?

There’s probably more history here that I’m missing.  But I still am haunted by the why.

However, if nothing else, we learned about the pastophor in this post.  Believe it or not, there are actually some pharmacist-physicians out there in the universe this very day.  Maybe THEY can shed some light on why physicians get to prescribe drugs, but pharmacists have no say in the best drug for the patient…?  When I run into one the next time, I’ll be sure to ask…*

(*OK, technically, pharmacists can prescribe a few drugs on their own, based upon different state laws.  Also, pharmacists may be able to prescribe through something called collaborative practice agreements.  This is a step in the right direction.  And I’m not saying that all physicians are terrible prescribers in this post either.  What I’m questioning is WHY the system is the way it is currently – and should it REMAIN that way?)


Monday, August 18th, 2014

Boonsboro  So, this weekend, I escaped to WVA, VA and MD.  Specifically, I stayed in Nora Roberts’s B&B, The Inn at Boonsboro.  As one of my friends put it, we like to support fellow writers.

But, in this weekend getaway, I also visited Antietam and surrounding places to learn a little more about our history as a country – which, as you know, isn’t all warm and fuzzy.  However, I also found a few surprises along the way this weekend, which are the following:

1. Small towns are in some cases – alive and well.  Boonsboro isn’t a large city; however, it’s booming.  There were tons of people around, and the Inn I believe was at capacity.  I like to see that small towns are still thriving in this super-hyper-linked crazy era we live in.

2. Writers support other writers.  Nora’s husband owns the bookstore across the street from the Inn.  The room of her books was truly prolific; however, that didn’t impress me as much as her table of OTHER authors’ signed books for sale.  I dug that she and he support other writerNoras.

3. In order to understand the future, we have to study the past.  We visited two national parks in the area, one with another monument to Washington.  It had a walking path up to the monument, along with historical points along the way of Washington’s life.  To study great future leaders, we have to understand great leaders from the past.  And as much as I prefer the future to the past, I know I need to keep reading and learning about history, in order to not repeat the bad stuff, and re-do the good stuff.

4. Heed the advice of the locals.  Josh was our waiter the first night at the restaurant in town, and he gave us advice on all the spots to see.  We did all of them, and were glad we did.  Pay attention to what the locals say – they don’t mislead.