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ICHP Leadership Spotlight
Meet Russell Jason Orr, PharmD, MBA
I am currently the Executive Director of Inpatient Pharmacy Services at the University of Chicago Medicine however my journey to this point may not be what one would expect. My career to date has spanned being a retail Pharmacy Technician, a hospital Pharmacy Technician, a Pharmacy Student, a Pharmacy Resident, a pediatric Clinical Pharmacist, a pediatric Operational and Clinical Manager, a pediatric Clinical Director, and a children’s hospital Pharmacy Director. These experiences have allowed me the exposure to understand how intricate and powerful our profession is.
What is your ICHP leadership position?
I am the Northern Region Director and am excited to get involved with ICHP at a higher level.
Where is your practice site?
University of Chicago Medicine in Hyde Park
How would you change pharmacy if you could?
Every leader may say “unlimited resources” would change pharmacy but every leader would also say “come back down to reality!” What remains a reach for our profession, but I believe we are very close to making a change, is if pharmacy were to gain provider status in Illinois. I believe this would be a major step in pushing our profession forward.
Tell us a story about how you selected pharmacy as your profession. How do you know you made the right choice?
In High School I worked at a local drug store stocking shelves. One day the pharmacy cashier called out of work and I was asked to jump in and help with the cash register in pharmacy. This was my first introduction to pharmacy and I instantly was enthralled. I saw the Pharmacist counseling patients on their prescriptions and helping customers with over-the-counter options to assist with their healthcare concerns. I left that day forever changed. I couldn’t become a Pharmacy Technician fast enough and I quickly obtained my PTCB certification. It wasn’t long after becoming a Pharmacy Technician that I knew the profession of Pharmacy was for me. During Pharmacy school I changed from a retail pharmacy technician to a hospital pharmacy technician and a new career aspiration formed. For the first time I was exposed to a clinical pharmacist in a hospital and this was the point in time that I knew I had made the right choice. I knew at this moment that Pharmacy was part of who I am and it solidified that I had made the right choice to become a pharmacist.
What makes ICHP great awesome?
I love that ICHP brings brilliant local minds together to have one singular voice. It is vital for everyone to come together and be represented by ICHP as a unified front. The megaphone that ICHP holds in its hands to proclaim, drive, and instill our values as a profession is invaluable.
What initially motivated you to get involved in ICHP?
In a profession that is rapidly changing I felt it was imperative to be a part of a larger collaborative of like minds to stay aligned on where our profession needs to go. I was motivated by ICHP’s involvement in our profession and I could not help but be a part of it.
Is there an individual that you admire or look up to, or a mentor that has influenced your career?
The current Vice President of Pharmacy at UChicago Medicine - Kevin Colgan has inspired me to become a better pharmacist, a better leader, and a better person. Each day Kevin comes to the table with innovative ideas and a drive not matched by anyone else I have ever met.
What advice would you give to student pharmacists?
Do not box yourself in to a set of rules that are made for you. Each day make sure that you are searching and reaching for new heights. Challenge all assumptions. Break those barriers. Do not become a variable in an equation that yields mediocrity. Be curious. Go down tangents as a student. This is your time to explore your knowledge base and find out where your deficiencies lie. Do not ever let anyone tell you that you cannot achieve greatness because YOU, for sure, can accomplish anything YOU put YOUR mind to.
Do you have any special interests or hobbies outside of work?
My passion is traveling and exploring the world. Traveling has for sure been limited during the pandemic, however it has given me some time to explore places locally in Chicagoland and neighboring states that I have never really paid attention to. The first week of September I decided to dip my toes back into traveling and explore the mountains of Alaska.
What is your favorite restaurant or food?
Growing up in Texas I for sure miss some good Tex Mex and BBQ. If anyone has good restaurant suggestions, please by all means, contact me.
Where is your favorite place to vacation?
Rarely the same place twice.