It rarely happens. In fact, it almost never happens. My pharmacy was embarking on a new service. The hospital was going to become more accurate in their patient drug charges. The way our hospital charged for medication was simple.
Each day my pharmacy sent a 24-hour supply of medication to each patient. The pharmacy technicians would generate a computerized list of each patient’s drugs based on what the physician prescribed. For example, if a doctor wrote that a patient should take a specific antibiotic every eight hours, then the patient would receive three capsules. If the patient needed to take one tablet in the morning and one tablet at night, then the patient would be sent two tablets. Patients were charged for the medication when the meds left the pharmacy, not when the meds were administered to the patient.
The problem occurred when the patient was discharged or off the nursing unit for some reason. In these cases, the patient did not get all their doses. And these doses were sent back to the pharmacy. This happened quite often. The pharmacy did have a system in place to capture these returned medications. My pharmacy properly credited the patient for missed medications.
However, the hospital wanted to install a better system in place. Therefore, the hospital permitted my pharmacy to hire two new full-time employees. It would be their job to obtain returned medications and credit the patient.
As pharmacy manager, I hired two full-time pharmacy technicians. They were quickly trained on the computer and began the crediting process. My hospital was happy with the results.
Do More With Less
I was floored! Now I’ll admit I’ve worked in hospitals for over thirty years. I’ve been in the pharmacy field for my entire life. However, I don’t think this has ever happened to me before (or after, for that matter).
My pharmacy was told to embark on a new project. And we were given additional manpower (2 full-time employees) in order to accomplish it. Imagine that!! This has never happened to me!! Usually, when my pharmacy is told to do something extra, the philosophy is “do more with less”.
I was never permitted to hire more people in order to do something new. But in this case, start a new project. Go hire more people. Wow!! This was a first for me.
Do more with less. That’s the mantra. Not just in pharmacy, but everywhere from what I’ve heard. It happened a lot in my hospital. I watched other hospital staffs dwindle as they lost people who weren’t replaced. I watched other managers assume tasks and roles because others left. The hospital called this “consolidating”. I knew this was “do more with less”.
My daughter is experiencing this now. She works as a special ed teacher for a school system. She’s finding that they’re thrusting more and more upon her— with no additional help! She thinks she’s being abused.
Having spent 39 years in the workforce, I assured her that she was not being abused. Unfortunately, this is just how it is.
It Doesn’t Hurt To Be Nice
Whenever a staff member resigned, it took me three months before somebody walked through the door to replace them. This took into account such things as advertising in the local Sunday paper (there was no internet at the time), reviewing prospective candidates’ resumes, and setting up and conducting interviews. It was also necessary to allocate time to the candidate who was hired, so they could give proper notice to their current job.
The hiring process had to go through several people in my hospital. I had to submit my request to replace the person (who was leaving) with my boss (Director of Pharmacy). Then to my Vice-President. Then to the Chief Financial Officer. If all three people were satisfied that the replacement was necessary, they signed the request and it was sent to Human Resources.
Sometimes there was a hiring freeze that impeded the hiring process. This hiring freeze could last several weeks or several months.
I worked very closely with the Human Resources representative who was assigned the task of filling my open slot. It was necessary to form a close bond with this human resources representative.
I didn’t want to micromanage her. And I couldn’t expect her to be there for my every beck and call. But I did need her. In order to get additional pharmacy staff, I was dependent upon her actions as a Human Resources representative.
Furthermore, she wasn’t just responsible for filling my open slots. She had other departments which had openings that she needed to fill. So I had to make my open positions a priority in her mind. After all, the longer my slots remained unfilled, the more likely some administrator (DOP, VP, CFO) would question if it was really necessary to fill them.
When it came to my management style, I’m nice. Some other managers don’t approve of my niceness. They think I’m too nice. I don’t care. I’m nice.
I’ve found that people appreciate someone who’s nice. They are more receptive to someone who’s nice. And in turn, they are more willing to do things for someone whose nice to them.
I’ve always tried to be nice to my fellow hospital workers. A simple “have a good day” or sending out a nice email works wonders. In addition, it’s also a good gesture to send out a thank you email for doing a good job. Especially when I can “cc” the person’s boss on the email.
I always tried to be nice to my Human Resources person that had the responsibility of filling my open positions. Being nice allowed me to keep abreast of any issues with my candidates and have my position filled quickly. I had a good relationship with my Human Resources representative. She was quick to fill my needs.
Don’t Lose Your Good Employees, Because You’ll Never Get Them Back.
I was working for a career school later in my career. I was teaching students to be pharmacy technicians. There were three instructors in the pharmacy technician department. I was the low man on the totem pole.
The instructor positions at my career school were dependent upon student admissions. If there were a lot of admissions, the school needed a lot of instructors. If there were fewer admission then fewer instructors were needed.
I was in the most vulnerable spot. I had the least seniority. As admissions declined, my position would be in jeopardy. Then I would be out of a job.
But I was successful. Everything I did result in a successful outing. Furthermore, the Dean of the school knew it. This led to another mantra: “Don’t lose your good employees, because you’ll never get them back.”
When I was a pharmacy manager, I knew my employees’ strengths. I knew which employees were good with the nurses. I knew which employees were good in the IV room. I knew which employees I wanted there during a snowstorm.
The Dean knew how successful I was in everything I did. He was happy that he had a person like me on his staff. What’s more, he didn’t want to lose me. Especially when admissions started to dwindle.
The Dean had other courses and programs that he needed to implement. With some programs, he was getting pressure from above. These were corporate’s initiatives— activities that had to be put into place and carried out by the school. In most cases, there was a deadline in place to accomplish these activities. And the resources were the school’s responsibility, not the corporate’s. In other words, it was the corporate’s idea, but the school needed to put it into place.
Other activities were from the Dean’s own wish list. These were programs that the Dean wished the school was doing, but that he couldn’t get the resources or manpower to accomplish them
In both these cases, the Dean needed a successful person to organize these programs. A person to get the program up and running. Someone that the Dean wouldn’t have to micromanage. A person to make good decisions. Someone with a proven track record—a person who had previous successes.
I was that person. I was moved from the pharmacy technician instructor position to a role that involved implementing and creating new programs for the school. The programs flourished and the dean was very happy. He may have lost me as a pharmacy technician instructor, but kept me on the staff of the school. This was good. Because he knew if he ever lost me, he’d never get me back.
Daniel Shifrin, R.P., M.S. is a recently retired pharmacist who enjoys sharing his insights about hospital pharmacy. He is proud to own one of the largest collections of Pharmacy Stamp First Day Covers.