Inaugural Address

by Todd Karpinski, ICHP President
November 6, 2009

Before I begin, I would like to take a moment of silence to remember those ICHP members, friends and family we have lost this year. Our thoughts and prayers are with them.

It is with great honor and humility that I stand before you today as the 46th President of the Illinois Council of Health-System Pharmacists. I must say it feels wonderful to be back in the state of Illinois, attending the annual meeting and having the opportunity to catch up with old friends and meet some new ones along the way. Having spent some time working with other state organizations throughout my career, I must tell you that you all should feel honored and privileged to be part of such a great state organization led by forward-thinking leaders and a solid, committed staff.

I would like to take a few minutes if you don’t mind, to share with you my brief, 4-year history with ICHP. I would liken my involvement in ICHP to a 200-yd dash….a fairly quick sprint through the organizational ladder. My organizational life started with ICHP back at the annual meeting in 2005. I was very new to the state, 2-months into my first DOP position at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, and didn’t know a soul at the annual meeting. What I experienced during my 3-days were extremely friendly, inviting individuals (dispelling the clichÉ rumor I always hear), high-level educational programming and through a little research, an impressive history of leaders. I knew on the drive back home downstate to Collinsville I was hooked. Almost immediately upon my return I contacted Trish and Scott to determine how I could get involved. Fortunately for me they suggested the Division of Professional Affairs, which at the time was being led by Nicole Allcock and composed of wonderful leaders across the state. Not too long into my journey with the group, and much to my dismay, we lost Nicole to the unnamed state West of Illinois. Nichole’s departure led to my first defining moment with ICHP; I received a call from Scott asking if I would be willing to serve as the interim Director for the Division. We all have these types of moments in our lives; a moment to step up, say yes and accept the challenge or simply let an opportunity pass-by. I tell my students, residents and practitioners to NEVER let these moments pass you by. Seize the opportunity. I took this mantra of NEVER letting an opportunity pass by from my first pharmacy mentor Harold Godwin for he would say there may never be another. So I implore you to take a chance; even if you feel too busy, not qualified, younger or older than the rest….take a chance….say yes…seize the opportunity. You may surprise yourself….you may surprise others. The decision to say yes to Scott and accept the leadership position has a lot to do with me standing in front of you today as the President of the organization. So I am glad I took a chance…proud I said yes.

One of the greatest rewards of organizational work is inspiring and exciting others to join. Fastforward a year to the 2006 Annual meeting. During a rousing ‘call-to-action’ speech by Don Lynx, a young clinical pharmacist, very new to the organization, stood up in front of the crowd and accepted Don’s challenge to get involved by running against him for office. As many of you know this pharmacist lost the election to Don….thankfully the story doesn’t end there. This individual has gone on to be the President of a local society, Director of Governmental Affairs, winner of the first ICHP Best Practice Award and a presenter at state and national meetings. This individual is my good friend and colleague Jered Bauer. Jered’s split second decision to stand up and say yes…’I accept the challenge’, has paid him dividends 10-fold. People often ask me how do I inspire others….for me the answer is to allow myself to be inspired. I was certainly inspired that day and I thank Jered for his courage to stand up and say yes.

Leap forward a couple years to 2008. I was finishing up my term as Director of Professional Affairs and was starting to get the itch, as Ann Jankiewicz so eloquently described in her inaugural address, to re-commit myself to the organization. It was about this time that I was approached and asked to accept the nomination to run for President of ICHP…..I almost chuckled at the offer. Me as President….still what many considered a young practitioner, new to the state…what could I offer the members of ICHP, with the storied history of leaders that have helped shape the practice of pharmacy. Then it started…that little “yes” voice began whispering quietly in my head. The thoughts turned to why not, give it a go….say yes…take a chance. So I accepted the nomination and as they say the rest is history.

Now that the sprint for me is over, the marathon can begin. The runners in the crowd know the training for a marathon takes months of hard work and dedication; the issues facing health-system pharmacy and ICHP will take years to solve. So let’s get our collective feet pounding the pavement. I would like to touch on three issues very briefly. First, we need to re-evaluate ICHP’s strategic plan laid out by Mike Weaver 3-years ago. We will take time at the November leadership retreat to celebrate wins for what we have accomplished, identify and back away from strategies that were unsuccessful and refocus on key priorities that will help make ICHP a stronger organization. It is my personal mission to demonstrate to each pharmacist, technician, resident and student the value of being an active, engaged member of ICHP. I am a firm believer in the mantra ‘build it and they will come’. We can not stand idly by and expect pharmacy professionals to join our organization. There are simply too many competing priorities for an individual’s fiscal and human capital resources. We must demonstrate to our potential and active members a return on their investment. This may be in the form of educational programming, networking and/or online toolkits. Everyone in the room has heard the clichÉ ‘the benefits you reap far exceed the work you put into an organization’….well it’s our time to truly demonstrate this added value to those not currently engaged in ICHP.

Second, we have all heard about the ASHP Pharmacy Practice Model initiative. The initiative will be hosting a summit composed of key thought leaders to create a framework for the practice model that will ensure safe and effective care for health-system patients, determine those patient centered services that should be consistently provided, identify new technologies that will help support the practice model and finally develop a template for the practice model that is operational, practical and measurable. It is hard to believe that it has been nearly 25-years since a summit of this magnitude was held that helped shape the future of pharmacy practice. I was 7 at the time of the Hilton Head Conference….what is more astonishing is that we may have some in the audience who weren’t born at this time. As an organization, ICHP must advocate for key leaders from the state to participate in the summit. We must begin our planning process now to determine how we can utilize the summit proceedings to bring value back to our members.

The final area I would like to touch on is advocacy. Political advocacy is not only critical to moving our profession forward, it is essential to protect things from changing for the worse. Advocacy for the profession of pharmacy will be critical over the coming years as the health care environment changes before our eyes. We must protect our role as the medication experts that others have fought so hard for and we must extend our reach so that pharmacists are a part of every health care team across the country. Advocacy is not easy and it doesn’t come free, so I implore you to give to the PAC fund to help support our efforts. If you would rather give of your human capital, join the Governmental Affairs Division or go visit your local senator or congressmen to discuss the top advocacy priorities. Or if your written skills are better than your verbal, write a letter…or multiple letters to your representatives. Whatever you decide to do, know that advocacy is each and everyone’s responsibility in this room today and it will be the only way that we will continue to advance our profession.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, the theme for my Presidential Year is running. I would like to leave you with a quote from a great runner Steve Prefontaine. Please take a moment to consider Prefontaine’s words not only as they pertain to running but to life. “A lot of people run a race to see who is fastest. I run to see who has the most guts, who can punish himself into an exhausting pace and then at the end, punish himself even more. If I lose forcing the pace all the way, at least I can live with myself”. Running a grueling race is no different than giving the most you can to your profession. So as I said before….say yes to getting involved in your profession……take a risk…..challenge yourself… won’t be disappointed.

Thank you for your time today. It is truly my honor to serve you as President of ICHP.

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