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What Got You There Won’t Get You To the Next Place

March 21st, 2017

Screen Shot 2017-03-21 at 7.06.15 PMHow’s your 2017 going?

Mine has been…interesting. Mixed bag. Twists and turns.

The good news today was that the first book of 2017 finally arrived!  It’s on mentoring, The S(He) Says Guide to Mentoring, and it’s with one of my own mentors, Dr. David Borst. He was dean of the business school I attended, and we’ve kept in touch through the years to the point of co-piloting on a book together.  All the fancy press stuff drops soon, but of course, my fab 13 always get the scoop here first.

(You can listen here if audio is more your style on the Pharmacy Podcast about our collaboration. Or follow the magic on Facebook.)

This book is a first for me, in that it is really two books in one. David has very, very different ideas on mentoring from me. But the common theme here is that we’ve both set up women’s mentoring programs in the past, so we wanted to share our experience in that particular arena, even though our approaches and philosophies are radically different. We hope to inspire a few other men and women to start and lead mentoring programs for women–it’s one way we can get more women at the helm of organizations moving forward.

The book is literally flipped too – his side is 180 degrees from mine. And, there’s oddly enough several blank pages in the middle of our book, so people can take notes on our different perspectives as they read through it.

This book for me was an experiment.  First, I’ve not co-piloted on a book in a long time. Second, I’ve never been part of a two books in one experiment. Third, I’ve never written about mentoring formally as the topic or focus of a book before.  We even played with the front cover to make it negative and positive space – in that the black or negative space was the opposite perspective of a man or woman.

My point with this post is this: you can, and should experiment. Keep experimenting. Don’t do the same thing over and over again and expect different results (unless, of course, your results are consistently awesome – congrats to you if they are!  But if they are–are you pushing yourself enough?)

I don’t know if I’m pushing myself enough these days or not. But, hopefully this book will help a few men and women in turn help other women. If it does, I will have considered it a success. It also has reminded me to keep experimenting, and stop doing the same thing over and over again–regardless if it is a wild success or a big fat failure.



March 18th, 2017

Screen Shot 2017-03-18 at 7.40.12 AMIf you’re not part of the healthcare world, you may not know that this past week was historic for many, in that it was…match week.

If you’re not familiar, it’s the week when those graduating from pharmacy and/or medical schools find out if they “matched” to a residency after graduation or not.  A residency allegedly speeds up your training, in that you’re gaining up to 3 years’ of clinical training crammed into one.  (‘Allegedly’ – I don’t know if I personally buy that…).

While I will reserve my own opinion of the process and the clinical residency itself, what really disturbed me yesterday was the pharmacy matches…or lack thereof. You can see the data at my faceplace page – but basically over 1900 students did not match into residencies this year.

The problem with this is many fold. First, many pharmacy school professors love to extol that having a residency straight out of school is the “best” thing one can do for her career. (And the majority of them extol this, because that’s what they did.  I’m here to gladly trumpet the fact that the world has changed – radically.)

So, when professors set a clinical residency as the gold standard, but there aren’t enough residencies to go around, pharmacy schools are basically setting some students up for failure.  This is not a good precedent to set, especially at the launch of one’s career.  (And yes, I’m a professional failure artist myself, but getting students to fail at launch is probably not the best place for them to learn that very hard lesson.)

Regardless of the lack of residencies and the allegations of it speeding up one’s education, if you’re in that pack of 1921 students who did not match yesterday, here are some humble suggestions on what to do next.

1. Don’t panic.  Consider yourself LUCKY you didn’t match.  I’ve heard stories of students working CRAZY hours as a resident, and while their personal education might be sped up for a year to three years, they also worked double or triple the amount of time that they should have…. I personally like my profession, but I went into pharmacy so I didn’t have to do it 24/7/365.  Otherwise, I would have gone to medical school.  So, take the rejection as a WIN for yourself and your sanity for the next 1-2 years.

2. Go work for a year.  I joked that I did a residency at the school of hard knocks – AKA, working in the real world as a pharmacy manager (PIC) right out of school.  Retail pharmacy is an equally solid training ground for you. It will also help you pay the bills and keep your eyes out for work that you may want to do for the long haul. Many who did not match actually ended up in retail and are still there, because they LIKE it.  True, it’s not for everyone, but it is for some. It will also teach you how to manage relationships with your patients, patience, customer service, and making really tough calls sometimes on trusting your gut.

3. While working, look at late fellowships or next cycle’s fellowships and/or residencies. Fellowships aren’t typically in hospitals. Some focus on research, some on industry, some on managed care, and even focus on consulting.  If you’ve never really felt in your heart that clinical in a hospital was your cup of tea, but you wanted to try something different, look at fellowships.  You can also work, and take a day or two off and head to AMCP’s Nexus in the fall, where many residencies and fellowships in managed care hang out.

Realize, however, that you’ll most likely go backwards in terms of your salary if you’re out in the working world but then want to try a residency or fellowship.  That’s a hard cut to swallow, especially for students coming out with a lot of debt.

4. Consider furthering your education.  Those who asked me already know this, but the first time I graduated from pharmacy school with a 5-year BS in pharmacy, I ran screaming from the building.  I was done with school.  However, since then, I’ve gone back a few times, and I NEVER went into debt when going back either. (Note: I always had a full time job in addition to part time post grad education and/or employers who helped me pay for it in part. I would never recommend going back to school full-time these days…the world has just become too volatile for that.  Of course, if you’re independently wealthy and can afford it, rock on….)

A PharmD alone anymore really doesn’t cut it. As sad as it is to type this, PharmDs are now a dime a dozen. What separates you from the herd?

As I was just discussing this yesterday – consider the changes coming in pharmacy – and I’m talking RADICAL disruption that will occur in next 10-20 years.  If, for example the rumors are true and a large online retailer is getting into the pharmacy business and begins delivering drugs by drone from a central location – what will that mean to pharmacy? If more vending machines are allowed on college campuses, in hospitals, and at major employer campuses for prescriptions, what will that mean to pharmacy?  If employees don’t get healthcare insurance from their employers in the future….what will THAT mean to pharmacy?  If telemedicine and telepharmacy are exploding, what education do you need around communication on a screen rather than face to face with patients?  Think ahead.  Because, if we don’t, we could miss opportunities, or worse…we could miss our profession.

There.  No one wants to fail at the beginning of her career. However, as I’ve said here before and will continue to say–failure can be the best thing that ever happened to you.  It can provide you windows and doors that you never even considered in the hallways of your career and life.  And while I’m glad there are pharmacists who love working in the hospital, it doesn’t have to be for everyone, nor is it a ‘gold standard’ for a pharmacy career anymore.  The leaders and true decision makers aren’t running around on floors recommending a dose for vancomycin (there’s an app for that now); they are looking further into the future and more broadly at healthcare and making change happen today.

HIMSS17 Recap Show – Pharmacy Podcast

March 4th, 2017
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I am HIMSS virgin no more.

Listen to our HIMSS17 recap show – if you’re a pharmacist, or if you’re curious about this event but have never attended.  Also, you might want to listen to this show if you exhibited at HIMSS and want to know how to maximize your presence at a huge healthcare conference overall.  Most of all, if you’d like help in your booth with podcasting the rock stars at your next conference or event, let us know. (Specifically, let Todd know.)

I am grateful for the opportunity to have attended this amazing show!


March 3rd, 2017

Today, I got up and was at Fishers High School by 7:55 AM to talk…STEM careers for a couple of hours with 5 other women. It was fun. (Thanks to Amanda Howard, Math Teacher  for hosting us!)

Here are some of the questions we were asked, along with my more well-thought out answers after this morning, when I was sleep deprived and not fully caffeinated.

If you had high school all over to do again, what would you change?

See my answer at the Faceplace, along with several of my friends’ answers.

When did you know you wanted to be a <insert career> or study <insert major>?

I knew I wanted to be in healthcare after general chemistry in high school – it was a struggle between medicine and pharmacy, but I chose pharmacy over medicine mainly because I didn’t want to be fully married to just a job. I also need to feed my creative soul, so I needed a first profession that was a little more flexible.

What is the biggest misconception about your job or field of work?

That (at least for my first profession of pharmacy) we take pills from big jars and put them in little ones. Pharmacists do way, WAY WAY more than that now. It’s a lot more complicated than that now, thankfully.

What advice would you give to someone embarking on a brand new career today?

My advice in general for the high school students was to play Nancy Drew. (Thankfully, they knew who she was still today!) Ask questions. Be curious about the world and people. Investigate. Supersleuth.

What is your favorite thing about your job?

For me, it’s about variety. I don’t like doing the same day twice or over and over again. Variety and change are important. To others, it was more about flexibility. Still others, that they were solving problems and making the world a better place.

How important is art to STEM?

This was actually asked by one of the students, and my favorite question. To healthcare and design of it – Art is EVERYTHING. We need to disrupt healthcare. It’s a mess. I spent 45 minutes waiting to see a doctor last Saturday, and when we can get an Uber faster than we can see a doctor when we are really, really sick is just so many levels of beyond broken that I can’t even begin to justify how much design thinking we desperately need to jam into healthcare to make it more efficient. Art. Is. Everything.

Last, but certainly not least, I’d like to say that after hearing the panel discussion today, we still have a LOT of work to do to get to gender equality or parity in STEM moving forward in this country and state. We need to support girls and women. Help them help themselves when it comes to choosing STEM careers, and have more candid discussions about the stereotypes and flagrant discrimination when it comes to women in the workplace. We need to head this stuff face on…otherwise, it will never change.

The Manbassador

March 2nd, 2017

I’ve been focused on gender parity for years now. But one trend I’m digging of late is: the manbassador.

These are dudes who are in on the gender parity and generalized diversity discussion these days. Several top B schools (Wharton, Harvard, etc.) have started Manbassador chapters so men can get in on the conversations about gender parity and why diversity in boardrooms, C suites and everywhere in Corporate America is so important.

One of the boards I’m serving on right now is also focused on a panel addressing this exact topic this summer.  And, if you’re man enough to join this movement, here are some ideas on how you can get in on the conversation – even if you can’t come to our Indy event in June on Manbassadorship:

1. Stop Talking…on all male panels.  With one exception here – I’ll allow all the cool dudes out there to speak on all-male panels if the topic is how to get more gender parity and diversity in the workplace. There’s your one exception. You’re welcome.

2. Sponsor women at work - If I ever get over this perpetual cold I’ve had all winter and the frog out of my throat, I’m going to have a podcast on this exact topic over at pharmacy podcast.

3. Start your own Male Ally chapter – It takes a strong man to build women. Smart guys have done this – why not you?

4. Check your bias - I actually have bias strongly pro-woman. But at least I know that about myself, since I’ve taken several tests now about it. You should get a baseline on yourself.

And current manbassadors: you’re the real MVP. Thank you for realizing that women need a seat at the table too!

Ode to My Thermal Leaky Coffee Mug, May It Rest in Peace

February 27th, 2017

Today, I threw away my travel thermal coffee mug.

This is normally not a big deal for most people. But for those of us who can survive only after a morning filled with Java, it was a big deal for me.

After the 50th time of it leaking coffee on me on my way into work and murmuring profanities at myself as I wiped off my coffee stained bag, I decided it was time to put it down for good.

I had that thermal mug for well over a decade. More like 15+ years. It was red. From Starbucks. Sexy. A gift.

Now I have to buy a new one.

The last one served me well.

To all my fellow coffee lovers: take a sip for me and my former mug tomorrow morning. And if you have a thermal travel mug that keeps your coffee warm but does NOT yet leak, give it a wink from me.


HIMSS17 – You’re Doing it Right

February 21st, 2017
Screen Shot 2017-02-21 at 11.18.12 AM

Yours truly, along with founder of the #pinksocks movement, @Nickisnpdx (L), and Joe Lavelle of Intrepid Healthcare (R).

Well, I’ve tried to absorb as much knowledge as I can before my head explodes at #HIMSS17 this week. It’s been a BLAST talking to so many rockstars of HIT and healthcare that I’m starstruck!

One of the coolest new methods of learning for me at the meeting was actually co-hosting at Intrepid Healthcare’s #JoinTheConversation podcast desk at Experian Health with Joe Lavelle in place of Todd Eury as a co-host of the Pharmacy Podcast for a few of the episodes.  I even had a slip in the NCPDP session where I created a new word (adjudification = faster adjudication of healthcare claims. You’re welcome.)

What I also realized in that the harmless invite of asking people I’d only worked with on the phone or via Skype in the past to the booth was that it really boosted traffic for the space.  So much so that it would be wise for orgs going to large scale meetings in the future would benefit from having live podcasting from their booths.  Just saying!

If you need help with this at your next big pharmacy meeting booth, I’m certain that Todd Eury would be happy to help you out, or in the broader healthcare community, Joe would.  Either org is great, and podcasting is where all the cool action is these days…just ask me and my new pink socks.

The other thing HIMSS did really well was having a social media team of ambassadors - I think EVERY trade show (inside or outside of pharmacy) should have one. These are digital influencers that can spread the halo of all the awesome things happening at your conference online through social portals.  And let’s face it – who better to spread the word on a conference than those who would be at the conference anyway, speaking at the conference, and being the awesome thought leaders that they always are?  And, I’ll go critical on my first profession for a moment: we don’t have enough social media ambassadors in pharmacy. For whatever reason – we need more pharmacists tweeting, Facebook live-ing, Periscoping, Pinning, you name it. (And HIMSS, if you need a pharmacist for 18 into social media – I’d be happy to help!)

These are the items I will definitely retain from #HIMSS17.

Women IN Healthcare: What do you need to be successful?

February 19th, 2017

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HBA Indiana is conducting a survey of educational needs of healthcare and life science employees of the state of Indiana. If you work in biotech, life sciences, healthcare, pharma, medical devices or healthcare IT, can you please take 5 minutes and complete this survey so we can better assist our healthcare and life sciences community of Indiana? You don’t have to be a member of HBA to participate – and 2 who complete the survey will win a $25 Starbucks gift card.

Caffeine and career development – what more could you ask for?

Also – if you’re seeking more info on our mentoring program from our segment on Inside Indiana Business this past weekend, here it is, just for you!



February 16th, 2017

I’ve got my hat, my puppets and my #HIMSSVirgin T shirt packed!  See you next week at HIMSS, and thanks to Mandi Bishop and Kristin Eilenberg for helping me understand what I need to do in advance of this monster meeting! (And thanks Todd, for letting me record this show!)

Happy Valentine’s Day

February 14th, 2017

6stepsgenderparityvalentineshowValentine’s Day: admittedly, never my favorite holiday. How mass beheadings led to a day full of hearts, flowers and chocolate is beyond me.

Maybe love really is a battlefield.

Anyway, my valentine to the universe this year is a little different. It’s in podcast form, sparked by a post I wrote over at LinkedIn a few weeks ago during the women’s march.

I can’t think of a better gift to get all of us this year: a little more peace and equity.  A little less bloodshed & battlefields.

Have a great holiday!