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Archive for November, 2017

17 Things I’m Thankful for in 2017

Thursday, November 23rd, 2017

Screen Shot 2017-11-23 at 9.52.45 AMHappy Thanksgiving, all!

Here are 17 things I’m thankful for this holiday season, since it is 2017:

1. My friends - who really carried me through this crazy year – thank you so much for having my back!

2. My family -  ditto. After all, my mom is one of my fab 13!

3. Several jobs, a roof over my head and my bills paid. (Technically this is 3, but I’ll go ahead and lump them together.)

4. My angst filled cat, Jack.

5. Books, writing and the ability to express my opinions in America. As I have a lot of them. Helping people bring other books into the universe too - Whether that’s helping someone get into the writing habit, editing, supporting, referring or being a part of someone else’s book, it’s all good. I don’t think the universe can ever have too many books.

6. Unicorns, Glitter, Hello Kitty, Rainbows, and Pusheen - In that order, beginning with most important.

7. Podcasts - I love listening to them, producing them with Todd Eury over at Pharmacy Podcast, and even being an occasional guest on them.

8. My library card - Said it before and I’ll say it again – books are portable magic.

9. My iPhone – which actually almost gets me in 2 places at once. Everyone loves to trash our phones these days – we are addicted, we pay too much attention to them, yada yada. But I love the ability to reach out to someone in my network almost on demand these days. It can spark ideas, projects and strengthen relationships, not tear them apart.

10. The haters – Believe it or not, I’m sending out a virtual hug to the haters today too. After all, they challenge me to look at the world differently, push me to be better, and remind me how NOT to behave. Thanks for the inspiration!

11. The inspirers – To all my virtual and actual mentors – thank YOU for your inspiration as well!

12. My health – While my sanity is questionable at times, generally, I’m still healthy. Being involved in healthcare makes me extra empathetic to those who aren’t as lucky.

13. Travel – This year – to Amsterdam, Scotland and so many other US parts. While I love to hate on the crappy service of the airlines (don’t search for my Twitter rants), I do appreciate that once the plane finally does get in the air, we can travel to magical places that get us out of our comfort zones each and every day, potentially.

14. Planning educational experiences – My favorite thing about leading HBA IN this year has been the ability to conjure up really interesting, inspiring and edutaining events for the community at large in Indiana. I’m grateful for that opportunity. I also continued to show up for Amy Stark’s #SMDames17 event. I’d love to see her spread this to other places beyond IN in 2018.

15. Speaking gigs – This year, I had the privilege of speaking at several national meetings – SXSW (a bucket list item for me), ASPL, Indy Big Data, through HBA, several panel discussions, and all of it was fun. I’m excited to be returning to SXSW in 2018 too! Yay!

16. Second chancessomething I’m working on, and suck at, but working on…!

17. I saved the best for last. This year, I am most thankful for…YOU! But for you, this blog would not exist. And next year, the blog turns 10. Thank you for reading, commenting and cheerleading me on – it’s not always been easy, but I know if I’m helping just one soul out there through these musings, I’m on the right track.


Pharmacy School: Is it Time for an Extreme Makeover?

Tuesday, November 21st, 2017

pharmacyFriends, Romans, Pharmacykind: Lend me your ears. For I am about to get on my soapbox and pontificate about…pharmacy school. (That, and I’m avoiding editing galley 1 of my next book tonight. Writing for me always trumps editing.)

So…pharmacy schools these days. A lot of conversations about them and what they teach of late, I have had. And now that I’m on the outside of them and only educating as a preceptor, I think it’s time to drop what I think we should consider for schools of pharmacy.  The following are my opinions and mine alone, but I don’t think I’m alone in a lot of what I’m about to say; it’s just that others in pharmacy may not be as opinionated as I am, or as overt about it. But, I’m going out on my own with these ideas. Here we go.

I think it’s time for an extreme makeover of pharmacy schools.

What do I mean by this? Well, I’ll outline below 5 areas that I think need attention IMMEDIATELY in US schools of pharmacy.

1. Department re-orgs - Today, as it has been for I don’t know how many decades, most schools of pharmacy have only two departments: 1. pharmacy practice and 2. pharmaceutical sciences. That’s it. (Okay, some may have a social and administrative sciences department too, but very few.)

This is not only an overly simplistic view of pharmacy as a profession, but it’s borderline malpractice in pharmacy, because pharmacists do so much more these days than these 2 slivers of pharmacy practice. And while I’ve personally had a variety of pharmacy gigs over my career thus far, I never refluxed ANYTHING after organic chemistry, and I personally don’t work daily with patients in clinical pharmacy any more.

Ergo, I believe we need more than these 2 departments in schools of pharmacy. We need departments in:

  • 1. big data/analytics/informatics/stats,
  • 2. managed care, law, policy, and advocacy,
  • 3. entrepreneurship, business, and leadership and
  • 4. gene therapies and genetic counseling. 

The faculty to lead these departments may or may not be pharmacists as well. If you think I’m wrong, go look at a few pharmacist job descriptions over at Glassdoor or LinkedIn. What do you see? You’ll see that employers need pharmacists that can play with big data sets and pull out meaningful data. They need compliant pharmacists (i.e. pharmacists that know and understand the law). They need pharmacists who are creative, innovative and lead.  I can’t remember the last time I saw a job posting for a pharmacist that asked them to be able to draw a chemical structure of a drug. Wait, that’s been…never.

With this re-org I would also say that I think smart schools of pharmacy have co-deans of the program. One co-dean could focus on the internal college issues (like new programs, the vision for the college internally, working across colleges), and one co-dean could focus on external college issues (fundraising, working with external stakeholders, community building, etc.). A good dean would never be home, because she would be on campus during the day, and off campus at the same time integrating the school into the community. There is no way one person can manage everything a dean has to do. And even though there should be an associate dean – that associate dean should be focused on academic issues within the college, not setting up new programs, or attending a bunch of cross college campus meetings.

2. If the departments change, so must the curriculum - Therapeutics and pharmacology consume most of the classroom time in schools of pharmacy. Courses like pharmacy law are crammed in a 1-3 credit hour class one semester, and treated like a red-headed stepchild of the curricula in schools of pharmacy. However, pharmacy law should be a very large chunk of the curriculum, because NO ONE WILL CARE HOW MUCH YOU KNOW ABOUT PHARMACY if you don’t have a pharmacist license and are in jail, because you violated the law. Let alone the new MPJE being a really tough test. TAs and Pharmacists alone should not be teaching pharmacy law, in my opinion. The law has become far too complex. Also, advocacy and policy are barely touched upon in pharmacy schools. And yet, they are absolutely critical to the profession surviving and thriving in years to come. Regulation is made by LAWYERS, not pharmacists or healthcare professionals.

Similarly, the therapeutics and pharmacology should be cut back and more emphasis should be placed on data and digging through it. Look at hospital EMRs as one example. Or, big data sets for public and population health. A pharmacist counseling one patient may have an impact, but a pharmacist spotting a trend through a large data set can positively impact an entire community. Very few pharmacy schools are teaching how to look at big data, by learning SQL or R, for example. Also, big data analysts will be future leaders, because they can better study population trends, understand the data, and make meaning again.

Same deal with the other categories/departments above. There are new gene therapies coming out each and every day that may cure diseases! However, they are expensive. Also, in the era of genetic mapping, we are just on the cusp of understanding what someone’s personal genotyping means. Do and can pharmacists share appropriate therapies with patients? Absolutely! IF they are trained.

3. Apprenticeships – While some may argue that we have residencies and fellowships to cover this, along with APPE and IPPE, I’m not so sure we’ve got that right in pharmacy schools, either. Since there aren’t enough residencies and fellowships, maybe it is time to consider a first or second year pharmacist out of school under an apprenticeship instead? IPPE is a bit of a waste, because students are too green, but is APPE long enough? I don’t know the answer to this. What I do know is that this is a profession in which you learn by doing, not just studying textbooks in a classroom. I do know that on APPE we also focus way too much on pharmacy instead of the BUSINESS of pharmacy.

4. More project based learning - So much of pharmacy school is: memorize a bunch of stuff, then take a test. That’s again 20th century learning and mindset instead of preparing students for the 21st century. Now, employers want employees who can see problems, turn them into opportunities and create something from nothing into value-added service and/or products. This means hands on, project-based, problem-based learning. And not just one on one with patients. We need to think bigger. So, can we all ditch all these standardized tests and instead start giving students projects and problems that the real world and bosses try to manage every day? What can pharmacists do to solve environmental challenges? Emergencies? Public health issues? Education of the masses? More Shark Tank, less test-taking. More writing and speaking, less test taking. More assignments on finding better answers, rather than THE BEST answer…for the test.

5. All faculty should be practicing – Not just pharmacy practice, or clinical practice. But all professors should be out in the real world practicing. If you’re in pharm sci, that means you’re in a lab making something. If you’re in pharm practice, you should be out in practice (and NOT just in clinical practice.) If you’re in any of my new departments above – you should be practicing in those areas. While I’m sure there are some career academicians out there who think that full time faculty on campus should only be focused on teaching and publishing in some journal with a high impact factor, they need to be practicing in the real world too–otherwise, how can you see the issues coming, teach to the issues, and the change within the profession? I think many of the outdated dusty structures and curricula were also put in place by faculty who have taught in an institution for 30 years without working in the real world for decades. Also, I think tenure needs to die as well, because of this bullet – everyone needs to keep their hands in the practice and not in the ivory tower alone. No one should rest on her laurels just because she has tenure. We all must stay hungry and a bit foolish if we’re truly going to be innovative.

There. These again are my opinions and mine alone. But, I do not believe that pharmacy schools are adapting to changes fast enough. Change is coming, whether or not we choose to adapt. We must fix this, or we are doomed as a profession.

Thanks to Career Coach Caroline!

Sunday, November 19th, 2017

Screen Shot 2017-11-19 at 9.18.21 AMIt’s always fun to be on the OTHER side of the podcast mic.  Sincere thanks to Caroline Dowd Higgins, who gave me the opportunity to be a part of her podcast, Your Working Life. (It will be over at iTunes in the near future too.)

On this podcast, we discuss #STEAMED education, the #STEMPrincess Project, #Multipationals, developing a career portfolio, time management, burnout, vacation and so much more!

This Thanksgiving, I’m grateful and thankful for friends like Caroline, who are doing important work to show others how to live their best lives. Give a listen, and thank you for listening – I’m thankful for YOU, too!


Swiping Right on Second Chances

Friday, November 17th, 2017

Screen Shot 2017-11-17 at 7.47.20 AMFor an app I’ve never used, I can’t tell you how many conversations I’ve had this week about swiping right on Tinder.  I actually had to look up that swipe right was the positive choice on Tinder, but I confirmed that yes – when you swipe right, that’s a plus/green light situation.

How many of us don’t like to swipe right on second chances? (My hand just went up.)  What’s that saying – “Fooled me once, shame on you, fooled me twice, shame on me”? I think that’s it. Anyway, sometimes we have to try and give a second chance to things that just didn’t work out the first time – for whatever reason(s) – bad timing, not a good fit, whatever.

The easier path (trust me, I’ve taken it more than my fair share of times) is to cut bait after the first try and fail. Don’t look back. There’s a reason it didn’t work out. Move on. Onward. Nail that SOB shut and move. On! (Yes, I’ve been accused of having too many hard limits. I probably should have made a T-shirt with #HardLimits on the front of it.)

However, the older I get, the more I realize that viewing the world in black and white is probably not the best way to view it–it can oversimplify things. Sometimes, gray intervenes and makes things a little more complicated than black or white. A “no” yesterday could mean all bets are off today. Maybe the other person just had a really bad day, week, month or year and took it out on you and your relationship. Maybe now is the time. Maybe if you swipe right on the second chance, it will be all green lights this time via the universe.

A better question to ask yourself: How does this situation/person/option make me feel? Do I get a warm and fuzzy from it, or is there something not right? Is the feeling compelling you to go for a take 2, or not?

As Brene Brown as I get: I sadly do not have all the answers. Just more questions…vulnerability at its finest!

My bottom line for you this week before our Thanksgiving: consider the option of swiping right if you’re like me with a bunch of hard limits. It may just open up a universe of possibility you never would have considered before.



My Favorite Things…Right Now

Wednesday, November 8th, 2017

This week was rough. Not gonna lie. So, when it gets tough, I just start Julie Andrews-ing it up. In here.

Here are a few of my favorite things…right now. (And no, no one is paying me for any endorsements here.)

1. I recently stayed at Hotel Valley Ho in Scottsdale. It was quirky and had its charms. One of my favorite charms of all was the Red Flower bath products – and specifically, icelandic moonflower.

2. Sparkles the Unicorn Shea-infused socks. Say that fast 3 times. Skip that and just buy a pair.

3. Prague – the one international destination I had on my goals list for this year that did not. Happen. Of course, Scotland did happen, and I’m grateful for it, with a bonus trip to Amsterdam.

4. Leonardo da Vinci – Walter Issacson – Until, of course I see how thick his books are when I get them at the library. Then I think, how might I ever get through it all? Then I think: how did HE ever write and edit it all? Then I fan girl and try my best to get through it. This is what will happen when my book shows up from the hold list.

5. 2018 – Got myself a new calendar today to plan ahead, and masterminding with the fabulous Dorie Clark as a super duper treat for myself in New York later in November. I am SO EXCITED for it and the possibilities in 2018!

…and then I don’t feel–so. Bad.


2 Mini Life Hacks

Friday, November 3rd, 2017

Yes, using the term “lifehacking” may be cheesy. But, here are two lifehacks I use to expand time.

1. My work uniform hack - I think I’ve written about this before – but I have my own work uniform. It consists of Rafaella Black pants (best fitting, hands down, Oprah was right), black T shirts (short sleeved in summer, long in winter) and several copies of the same black jacket that I wear to work (I won’t reveal my black jacket source – I don’t want the price to go up!) Pretty much every day. It saves my time AND decision making super powers, because I do believe that we only get so much decision making power in reserve, and we need to save it for things that matter. To me, I don’t want to think about coordinating a work outfit that is different every day. For variety, I switch up the color of scarf I wear. That’s it. I don’t go crazy.

2. My airplane notes hack – Everyone always wants to know how I manage to write hand written thank yous. Well, 1. I love it. and 2. I try to find the time when otherwise not available. So, plane rides are a GREAT way to knock out thank you notes. Just take a wad of them, with stamps, and start writing. When you get to the other side, address them and give them to the hotel to mail. Voila! A lighter load on the way home, a concentrated bit of time to write thoughtful notes while everyone else is watching crappy airplane TV.  (Sleeping might also be a great choice on planes, but I don’t sleep well on planes–so there’s that.)

The older I get, the more I realize that it’s the little things that make a HUGE difference.