Tip of the Week: We Are All Clinician-Managers

The evolution of health care to a more patient-centric focus suggests an even greater marriage between the concepts of manager and clinician.

Often times, pharmacists find themselves taking leadership positions with little formal training in leadership or management. While many of us might agree much upon the attributes that make for a ‘good’ pharmacist, there certainly would be some debate on that topic.

Management and leadership are often regarded as separate skill sets from what we might describe as a good pharmacist; however, the ostensible disparities between all of these concepts are not as different as one might think. A manager is someone within an administrative hierarchy, whereas a health care professional is often regarded as a clinician delivering services to patients. The evolution of health care to a more patient-centric focus, even during a time with increasingly sparse resources, suggests an even greater marriage between the concepts of manager and clinician.

Fanelli et al. conducted a study to identify critical competences for clinician-managers.1 By surveying health care professionals with and without managerial roles, they were able to identify 6 crucial competencies relevant to the clinician-manager role. The 6 competencies include: quality evaluation based on outcomes, enhancement of professional competencies, programming based on process management, project cost assessment, informal communication style, and participatory leadership. The authors also found that managers and professionals equally valued competencies such as defining goals according to available resources (manager 56.7% vs professionals 51.9%); planning organization and processes (54.3% vs 49.5%); making assessments by taking account of efficiency and quality (73.8% vs 69.0%); interpersonal communication (66.4% vs 58.2%); and creating a collaborative atmosphere (57.4% vs 62.7%).

Overall, this study outlines competencies that, when enhanced through training and experience, will positively influence human resource management practices in health care organizations. Can you imagine a pharmacist always running behind? Always in panic mode? Consistently having technicians call in sick because they don’t want to work with that pharmacist? Repeatedly getting angry or frustrated with patients? Never knowing how to address a problem effectively? Not knowing anything about the vendors supplying their information technology? These would be indicative of poor management skills and all but entirely preclude a pharmacist being an effective clinician.

Managers and health professionals essentially agree on the competencies necessary to maintain an effective clinical practice. Enhancing these competencies will be beneficial for those already in a managerial position as well as those who aspire to be in one.

Additional information about The “Management” in Medication Therapy Management can be found in Pharmacy Management: Essentials for All Practice Settings, 5e.

Lyubov Villanueva is a PharmD candidate at Touro University California College of Pharmacy in Vallejo.

Shane Desselle, RPh, PhD, FAPhA, is a professor of social and behavioral pharmacy at Touro University California College of Pharmacy.


Fanelli S, Lanza G, Enna C, Zangrandi A. Managerial competences in public organizations: the healthcare professionals' perspective. BMC Health Serv Res. 2020 Apr 15;20(1):303. doi: 10.1186/s12913-020-05179-5.