Going the Extra Mile

AUGUST 01, 2006
James C. McAllister III, MS, FASHP; Pharmacy Times Editor, Health-Systems Pharmacy Section

Our profession is one in which our customers (patients, other providers, and hospital administrators) have needs and expectations that consistently exceed our capacity to respond to the extent that we would in a perfect world. We as pharmacists are challenged by the expense associated with drug therapy, bureaucratic and regulatory barriers, limited human resources, space, equipment, time we have each day, and much more. As a result, we approach each day knowing that we will do the best we can and constantly balance needs with our capacity to meet them.

The great news is that this balancing act is supported by many wonderful pharmacists who "go the extra mile" in more situations than is reasonable to expect. These pharmacists go beyond what is reasonable because of their dedication to the patient and their own personal commitment to uphold their oath to serve others in pursuit of maximizing drug therapy outcomes. As the leader of more than 100 pharmacists, it is unreasonable for me to expect this level of commitment for each encounter in which they are involved. I trust that each pharmacist recognizes critical situations, in which going the extra mile is really needed, and their ability to give that extra effort whenever they can.

One of my staff members recently spent an inordinate amount of time assisting a senior who was mired in the Medicare Part D debacle. She tirelessly made numerous phone calls back and forth to Washington (DC) and Atlanta (Ga), as an advocate for this patient in an effort to reestablish his eligibility for coverage, minimize his out-of-pocket expense, and ensure that he was able to get the drugs he needed. I cannot share more details because it would exceed the space allotted for this commentary.

Although this action sounds "routine," you are blessed to work with colleagues who consistently go the extra mile. I know I have that kind of staff at the University of North Carolina Hospitals and Clinics in both acute care and ambulatory care environments. I am lucky to have every member.

As in many similar situations, the patient, the prescriber, and even the hospital did not really appreciate what it took to meet this patient's needs. Even more tragically, these efforts take place numerous times every hour of the day. As a profession, we need to strive to congratulate each other and celebrate our successes, even if only to each other. Leaders must find new and different ways to globally appreciate their staff members' high level of effort, while striving to improve their personal touch that means a great deal to their colleagues.

So, on behalf of all the pharmacy leaders and managers out there, I congratulate the thousands of pharmacists who constantly go the extra mile for their patients and customers. You are essential to the processes of delivering top-flight patient care and maintaining the image of our profession. Thanks so much for your dedication, sacrifice, and personal commitment!

Mr. McAllister is director of pharmacy at University of North Carolina (UNC) Hospitals and Clinics and associate dean for clinical affairs at UNC School of Pharmacy, Chapel Hill.

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