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ICHP Presidential Address at the ICHP Annual Meeting
by Carrie Vogler, PharmD, BCPS, Clinical Associate Professor - SIUE School of Pharmacy
I am thrilled and honored to serve as your ICHP president. I enjoyed celebrating all of the great accomplishments of our members at the ICHP awards ceremony at the annual meeting. I wish we, as a profession, could do this more often – more parties to celebrate the true joy in the fact that we are making a difference in patient care.
A little about me. I participate in patient care through my work at SIUE School of Pharmacy, where I care for patients on my internal medicine service at Memorial Medical Center in Springfield, IL. My students and I participate in interprofessional rounds daily with the SIU School of Medicine hospitalist teaching service.
Now, let’s focus on you. What is your favorite team? Who watches football? Who is a Bears fan? Who is a Green Bay Packers Fan? Let’s move to baseball. Who is a Cubs, White Sox, or Cardinal fan? When I first met my husband he forgot my name AND my phone number and we almost did not have a second date. But there was one question he asked me that he thought was more important to him than my name or phone number. He asked, “So ah, what baseball team do you cheer for?” I said, “Oh I’m a White Sox fan” and the sigh of relief he gave when he heard this was audible. See, he is from St. Louis and is a die hard Cardinals fan. If the words “I’m a Cubs fan” came out of my mouth he told me he would not be able to date me.
How did you choose your team? Was it your parents’ influence? Was it your friends’ influence? Was it based on where you live? Do you like to cheer for the underdogs? Or do you pick a team that wins- like a team that has 11 World series wins and a team that is going to win the National League Central this year? (My husband said to write that.) Whichever team you choose, you want to feel included and you want to feel like you are part of something. You attach to your group because they add value to you.
How can ICHP become your team that you root for and get behind? I have been spending a lot of time thinking about you, the ICHP member, and what ICHP can do to help you be the best person you can be and how we can grow and expand our profession. I’ve been thinking about the uncertainty and job satisfaction with our profession and whether your professional needs are being met. I know each of you impact patient care, be it directly or indirectly. It’s why we were all called to this profession- to provide the best patient care we need a team working together towards the common goal of improving the health and quality of life of every patient.
Let me tell you about my favorite team: my ultimate frisbee team at the University of Illinois (U of I) in Champaign. The game has seven players on each team with the goal of throwing the frisbee to your teammates to catch it in the end zone for a score. A big component of ultimate frisbee is the “spirit of the game.” The game relies on the spirit of sportsmanship and places the responsibility for fair play on the player.
There is something special about teams - they grow together, care, build trust, and share. I’m following the path we want our profession to go and I recognize that the more voices we have, the stronger our message will be. I want to share with you some important steps on how to build and grow our team.
Step 1: Grow the team you want, and you will grow together.
It all starts with an invitation - an invitation to join and become a part of something. How did I start playing ultimate Frisbee? I was invited to tryout by a new friend at U of I. I was hesitant. “Didn’t the team have enough players?” “I’ve never thrown a frisbee, why would they want me?” “I’m going to make a fool of myself.” These are the things I told myself. Now, you fail in 100% of the things you don’t try. So I decided to work hard and gradually, I started feeling more confident. If it wasn’t for that first invitation, and my willingness to try something new, I wouldn’t have had any of the great experiences or enduring friendships that I’ve enjoyed. Many of you are here today because someone invited you to come to an ICHP meeting or asked you to join. Can you imagine what could happen if each of you invited one person to come to the next ICHP event? In the same way that I would go on to guide newer players to learn the game and develop their skills, each of us could welcome incoming members to the ICHP and help them find their way.
Step 2: We need to cultivate caring. Do the values of the team match your own values?
My ultimate frisbee team was successful because we all wanted to win. Our slogan was “think it, play it, want it, win it.” We practiced, worked together, and communicated while we worked towards our common goal. We put the work in because it was important to us. Patient care may not always be as fun as ultimate frisbee. Sometimes it can be challenging to care because the orders pile up, the meetings drag on, and you lose sight of your original goal. You can easily become burned out and lose your sense of purpose. I won’t pretend that overcoming these types of challenges is an easy task. However, my frisbee team didn’t give up when practices were long or if we lost a big match; we had to take the opportunity to regroup, refocus, and rededicate ourselves to our goal. Sometimes it is necessary to do this with patient care and with our teams.
Step 3: Build trust in your team
Your team is your family. It may not always be functional. There can be drama. Imagine my ultimate frisbee team of 15 girls driving to North Carolina together, splitting 2 hotel rooms for a tournament to save money! Not one of my best decisions, because yes, girls smell after playing ultimate frisbee and yes, there was drama. Things may not always go smoothly, but I hope each of us can build a network of people we can rely on to help us plan for the next step, solve the next problem, and celebrate the next victory.
We all need mentors to help us navigate our path in this profession. We need to learn and share the playbook to determine the best strategies and best practices. There will be setbacks, but these can bring us closer together, renew our purpose, help us see the big picture, and take the steps necessary to get where we want to be.
Step 4: Expand the team.
Finally, we need to work on expanding our team to include players whose goals and values align with our own. If our primary purpose is to improve patient care by providing safe and effective medication use, then wouldn’t it make sense to invite our physician and nurse colleagues to the table? It would also make sense for the legislature to know what a health system pharmacist is capable of and have a solid voice from the profession of pharmacy providing input to legislation that could impact our profession. I think we can do a better job telling our story of what a health system pharmacist does. We do not want our legislators to be the ones who pick up the frisbee without our input and throw it in a direction we do not want to go.
Now, let me set the stage for my biggest match ever during regionals U of I vs. Northwestern to qualify for Nationals (top 16 teams in country). We were ranked number 2, Northwestern was ranked number 1. My determination to be the best player I could be had never been stronger. People get superstitious when it is the big game- It was a hot day and I can still remember that I was wearing a long sleeve t-shirt under my jersey. I couldn’t take off that shirt because I thought it would break the spell. I wanted that win SOOO badly and I never dove for more passes or ran harder than I did on that day- all so that I could celebrate with my team. In one of the closest matches ever, U of I won. My nickname became “magnet hands” because I caught everything. We went to Nationals and the euphoria from that win continues to carry me to be the best teammate that I can be. It’s not just playing the game, it is also the spirit of the game. Finding ways to enjoy what you do while you're doing it. Playing fairly, being bold, serving a purpose.
So the theme for my presidential year is “Our Team”. Each individual is a key component to the team. We need to make sure our values align with our behavior and are serving a purpose. Let’s develop our team into a network of people who help nurture every member to grow as a person. Our team includes you, and I want to personally invite you to be an active part of our team. ICHP offers some great ways to be a part of something special and shape this profession to make it the way we want to practice.
What do I want from you?
I want you to get involved with our team by joining a committee, volunteering, becoming a Champion, submitting a poster to present at the Spring meeting, or attending ICHP events.
What can ICHP do for you?
ICHP can keep you up-to-date on knowledge you need to know at your practice site, the latest legislation that impacts you, and how to help us represent pharmacy. ICHP also offers opportunities to network with others like you and help you connect to the profession.
Keep the end goal in mind- caring for your patients, enjoying what you are doing each day, changing pharmacy for the better, building for the future. I just need you to show up- remember our name, our phone number, and remember the answer to the most important question- what team do you cheer for? OUR ICHP TEAM! ■