Future Leaders

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Pharmacy Times, Volume 0, 0

I have opined about leadership inprevious commentaries, but I havenever been more optimistic aboutour future leaders than I am now, havingjust returned from the AmericanSociety of Health-system PharmacistsMidyear Clinical Meeting in Anaheim,Calif. My optimism stems from ourrecruitment efforts at the MidyearMeeting. The University of NorthCarolina School of Pharmacy, in collaborationwith 3 nearby academic medicalcenters, has re-established its masterof science degree in health systempharmacy and will be enrolling 4 newresidents/graduate students in the fallof 2007. Several other new programs,including those in Minnesota andPennsylvania, have joined the longstandingprograms from the past. I wasquite impressed with the number andquality of students interested in pursuinga master's degree in pharmacy. Intalking to my friends and colleaguesfrom the other programs, my sentimentswere shared by all.

Sara White presented a compellingcase for the need for future leaders inher recent article entitled,"Will There Be a PharmacyLeadership Crisis?" Admittedly,with the decline inthe number of master's programsover the past decadeor more, many pharmacygraduates have pursued amaster's degree in healthadministration, public health,or business. Most of theseprograms are extremely reputablegraduate level programsthat prepare their studentsto assume leadershiproles in health care, but theyfall short in terms of focus onour professional issues anddo not enable the developmentof camaraderie andlifelong friendships among peers as do2-year programs which have multiplepharmacy students. I also wonder aboutthe mentoring that is available to roundout their pharmacy-specific expertiseand engender a commitment to lifelonglearning. Finally, they do not emphasizethe need for a commitment to servingthe profession (which supporters will tellyou is an advantage for upward mobilityin hospitals or the industry).

These excited, enthusiastic youngpeople who are interested in staying inpharmacy and practicing servant leadershipare critically necessary for thefuture. Health-system pharmacists needto find ways through involvement inschools of pharmacy and among theirnew recruits to continue to identify pharmacistswith leadership potential andinterests. Mentoring them will be criticallyimportant, not only during their program,but after they graduate as well. Allof us need to help them get the fundamentalexperience they need, and supportthem as they assume entry-levelleadership roles. It helps all of us toremember that they may well be ourfuture leaders, so it is in all of our bestinterests to ensure that they have theskills and interests to effectively representthe entire profession.

Mr. McAllister is director of pharmacyat University of North Carolina (UNC)Hospitals and Clinics and associatedean for clinical affairs at UNCSchool of Pharmacy, Chapel Hill.