I have been thinking a lot about whatbrings pharmacists together andmakes them effective groups orteams. I can always count on my staffwhen we are challenged by a significantevent, such as when we haveJoint Commission on Accreditation ofHealthcare Organizations surveyors, orwhen it snows and a limited number ofstaff are able to get to work. Everyoneseems to pull together, becomingincreasingly understanding and cooperative,and gets the job done. I haveobserved this same behavior routinelywith our pharmacy residents, and Ihave noticed that one specific group ofmy staff exhibits this same behaviormore frequently.
Camaraderie is a word derived fromthe French and means "goodwill andlighthearted rapport between oramong friends," according to theAmerican Heritage Dictionary. I do notreally think camaraderie requires peopleto be friends, but that is certainlythe case many times. Friends usuallyhave similar interests, and exhibit loyaltyto each other, and the relationshipoften involves affection. Friends hangout with each other and have a tendencyto spend time togethersocially.
Comrades who exhibitcamaraderie have an affinitythat draws them together intimes of adversity or in pursuitof a common goal. Theyset aside their differences(while maintaining their individuality)to be part of agroup or team that aspiresto accomplish somethingthat a single individual cannotaccomplish alone. Camaraderiein this sense ischaracterized by loyalty, respect,support of eachother, and a common understandingof their mutualinterests.
As the leader of many pharmacists, Ihave been asking myself what I can doto encourage camaraderie among thestaff. It must start by realizing that allpharmacists have a common bond interms of our societal covenant, a professionthat puts those we serve aheadof our own self-interests. We do nothave to be friends and we are allowedto have different opinions on issues,but we must put the good of the professionas our first priority. At thedepartment level, pharmacists mustunderstand the common goals, thechallenges we face together, and thevalue in supporting each other.
What should we do to encouragethis sense of camaraderie? I am sure Ido not have all the answers, but I knowwe need to spend more time togetherso that we appreciate the value eachof us brings to the organization. Weneed to agree on certain commongoals and encourage colleagues tocontribute to the achievement of thesegoals. It may even be helpful to discussthe "common enemy" of the challengeswe need to overcome.
Take a moment to reflect on groupsthat exhibit camaraderie and theireffectiveness. Have you watched agroup of residents collaborate? Haveyou ever been a part of a governingboard of a professional association?What brings them together? Finally,what can you do to engender camaraderieas commonplace in yourorganization?
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.