President's Message - Is it Time to Get Involved?

by Mike Fotis, ICHP President
December 3, 2013

Why YOU should be a part of a Professional Organization
Of course if you are reading this article in KeePosted than you already recognize the importance of professional organizations. My hope is that perhaps one or two of the ideas presented in this column might be of interest to your students, colleagues and co-workers who might not be members of a professional organization. I hope you think so, and that you are also willing to share this article with them. Second, I promise not to try to guilt anyone into joining. Here are my 5 ideas: 

All the other health professions are doing it
That’s right – our colleagues in Medicine and Nursing, Physician Assistants, Therapists, Hospitals, Hospital Executives, you name it – they all have professional organizations. Now I don't really think other organizations are actively trying to undermine our profession, but for example, a professional organization of physicians is bound to be working to promote the interests of their own physician members. Health-system pharmacists also play an important role in promoting and protecting the health of our fellow citizens. It is just as important for pharmacists to make sure that our concerns about medication safety, product integrity, and proper use of medications are heard by the leaders of Illinois as it is for any other medical profession. ICHP is our voice. It just makes sense for pharmacists to have the same opportunity to address our concerns as everyone else.

Associate with energetic and enthusiastic colleagues
I can’t think of a better way to renew my commitment to our profession than by associating with the many energetic, enthusiastic, and highly professional colleagues that are members of ICHP. Let’s face it – the practice of pharmacy can get to be a grind sometimes. Work is busy and stressful. Our patients are seriously ill. There are drug shortages, staff shortages, computer glitches and restrictive rules and regulations that can drive anyone to pack up their attitude and start mailing it in. But we also know that the defining characteristic of professionals is that we NEVER mail it in. The 35th patient of the day you see in clinic deserves the same attention as the first patient. We all know the 35th patient is a father, mother, son, daughter, husband, or wife of someone. Working with the outstanding professionals who are members of ICHP and knowing you are not the only one faced with this dilemma is a perfect way to keep your professional candle lit and shining brightly.

Find a mentor 
Learn how to think instead of what to think – Learn how and when to ask questions instead of only how to answer questions – Learn to ask the necessary questions. Associate with other professionals who offer support when you need support and a push when you need to be pushed. When you’re ready, take your turn to serve as a mentor. Working with a mentor and serving as a mentor have been some of the most rewarding activities of my career.

Get out of your bubble and test your ideas with other professionals
All of us can end up in our workplace bubble. After all, “This is the way we do things at our hospital pharmacy.” These ideas have stood the test of time and trouble. They were put together by talented and hardworking colleagues. They work, they are useful, and they prevent mistakes. But our methods and procedures are not the only way to do things, and a very few of them might not be the best way to do things. One sure method to stay on the cutting edge is to test your ideas and procedures outside of your workplace. When you discuss these ideas with other talented and dedicated pharmacists who are not part of your day to day routine, you learn to be articulate, and of course to not take things for granted. Honing our craft outside of our workplace bubble is an excellent way to take one’s practice of pharmacy to a new and higher level and maybe to help others. Why not give it a chance?

Get out there and volunteer
Volunteering for an assignment can make your work life easier. That’s correct…I said easier! Volunteer for a project with an ICHP division. Choose an assignment that you know you are eventually going to complete at your workplace. Your results will benefit from the input of other experts, and chances are your actions will be more complete and cover every base all thanks to the support of other expert volunteers at ICHP. Why you might even save time by volunteering while coming across as the genius you really are with your workplace colleagues!

In every way I am such a fortunate man. In ICHP I have had the opportunity to serve 3 terms as a Division Director, one term as President-Elect and have just begun a term as President. There is one common thread I have observed as new members join the Board of Directors and as other Directors finish their terms. ICHP has a brief swearing in ceremony for new directors. You can tell from the looks on their faces they feel the same way I did when I was first sworn in. “What did I just get myself into???” I have also noticed the look on the faces of Directors as their term is concluded. I already know I am going to feel the same way. It is clear that a) every single director is sorry their term is over and b) they are so pleased that they took a chance and decided to volunteer. The time will come when it feels right for you to volunteer and to become an even more active member of ICHP. When it does, won’t you please join us?

The News Article appears in the following categories: