2019 KCHP Presidential Address - Joe Slechta

Good morning.  It looks like the weather is finally starting to feel like spring and there is no better place to be than Lawrence this time of year.  However, this year has affirmed that I will no longer be relying on Punxsutawney Phil for my meteorological predictions.

What a great conference!  I am continually impressed by what our membership brings to this event.  Please join me in applauding the efforts of the education committee for their hard work and commitment to providing this excellent program.

I have been contemplating this message for a few months now.  Should I go down the path of resiliency?  I think that’s been covered.  No need to create burn-out on burn-out.  Maybe I should center the message on value?  As I become more seasoned, I find myself taking time to evaluate decisions based on what personal or professional value they bring.  Maybe I could talk about the value of KCHP?  Sure, but this didn’t fire me up too much either.  Back to the drawing board…

Two year ago, Lindsay Massey masterfully entwined cooking and pharmacy.  Last year, Christina painted a picture that described the intricacies of scuba diving and the correlations to the pharmacy world.  I’m not sure I could top that.  Unfortunately, I was unable to see Christina’s delivery in person.  However, she was kind enough to forgive me in her speech stating that I was demonstrating my well-being and resiliency coaching my son’s baseball team.

This was important to me.  This was a group of kids I had coached for six years from third to eighth grade in baseball and football and it would be my final year in this role.  I had watched them grow as athletes but more importantly as individuals who genuinely care for one another.  Most of these boys are playing high school baseball this year and I hope that the work we put in over the last six years will have them prepared for the ball diamond, but more importantly, I hope that we taught them values that will make them better members of society.

Sports analogies and terminologies are commonplace in the work environment.  We have “teams”, daily “huddles”, and game plans.   Your manager might “touch base” with you during the day.  They will let you know if “you hit it out of the park” or maybe if “you dropped the ball”.  My hospital even had the Joint Commission in house last week to see if we were “up to par”.  Okay, that’s enough with the sports idioms.  But, I do think there are some lessons from sports we can use to improve ourselves and our organization.

Is anyone in the room familiar with Joe Ehrmann?  Joe Ehrmann was an all-pro defensive lineman for the Baltimore Colts in the 1970s (yes, for you youngsters, the Colts used to be in Baltimore).  After his NFL career, Joe went on to coach youth football and Parade Magazine dubbed him “the most important coach in America” because of his work to transform the culture of youth sports.  In 2011, he wrote InSideOut Coaching: How Sports Can Transform Lives.  The coaching philosophy he lays out is really quite simple, but takes extra effort, and I don’t think it is well implemented by most coaching staffs.  I won’t go into every aspect of his philosophy, but I want to focus on a few points.

Ehrmann asks the question “Are you a transactional or transformational coach”?

The transactional coach’s approach is likely one you’ve encountered before.  It best describes the kind of coaching I had growing up.  This type of coach is usually impersonal and authoritarian.  His or her focus is on the Xs and Os, winning, and often meeting their own personal needs.  The end result of winning justifies the methods to get there.

Words used to describe a transformational coach usually include dignity, integrity, grace and empathy.  This coach uses their platform to promote virtues such as liberty, respect, and moral courage.  They offer support and encouragement for each player and have a clear vision for the desired impact on their player’s lives.  Their legacy is developing athletes into responsible, accountable adults; not necessarily an impressive win-loss record.

As I read his book, I began to recognize my coaching style was that of the transformational coach albeit with some transactional tendencies.  I also realized his message went beyond coaching football and forced me to do some self-reflection.  How do I parent?  Transactional or transformational?  How do I interact with co-workers?  Transactional or transformational?  Which style do I use with students or residents?  Transactional or transformational?  These are tough questions.

Then, I asked myself how would I describe KCHP?  Are we transactional or transformational?  I think it is an important question.  Do we need traits of both styles?  Maybe.

Let’s look at the mission of KCHP.  “We are committed to advancing public health by promoting the safe and appropriate use of medications through advocacy and education.”

Are we being transformational in our approach to our mission?

What have we accomplished in the last year in relation to ADVOCACY?

Kat Miller and the governmental affairs committee have:

  1. Supported continued funding for KTRACS
  2. Supported a KPhA state bill allowing pharmacists to administer medications
  3. Gave recommendations to the Kansas BOP relating to proposed pharmacist to technician ratios.

Katie Wilson has established the KCHP Ambulatory Care Section.

What about in regards to EDUCATION?

Ricky Ogdon and the education committee have worked tirelessly to increase our number of educational events and have been recognized by ASHP for their efforts.  In addition to the Spring meeting (special kudos to Meghan Ohrlund), they continued the Rural Health Summit.  To me, this event might be our best example of being transformational.  Think about it.  Our organization is viewed largely as one that supports hospital pharmacists.  This conference goes beyond that and seeks to improve the access of quality pharmacy care to those hospitals that might not even have an employed pharmacist.

We participated in the Preceptor Boot camp, Pharmacy Forecast Workshop, and coordinated a successful technician conference.

Janine Ohler formed the KCHP Mentor - Mentee Program with the KU SSHP chapter.

I’d call these transformational events and I am proud of these accomplishments.

Another imperative to being transformational is to allot time for building relationships.  Joe Ehrmann mentions four important “Cs” in his book: Contact, Connections, Communication and Clarity.  We need to be in contact with our stakeholders, make meaningful connections, have regular communication and be clear in our message.  I think we have made great strides in all of these areas.  Christina and the communications committee established the KCHP Insider News and have increased our social media presence.

Encouraging open channels of communication is another essential piece of the Inside-Out Philosophy.  This means that KCHP also needs communication from our members to be truly transformational.  We invite all pharmacists, technicians and students to give us regular feedback on how we can continue to grow and how we can best meet the goals of our mission.

Everyone in this room has the ability to be transformational; as a pharmacist, technician, administrator, preceptor, faculty member, mentor, and as a member of the Kansas Council of Health System Pharmacy.  If we are “building a stronger tomorrow” as our theme suggests, we need the talents of our members to help us get there.  This is YOUR team.  We need you on the field.

There are two other “Cs” that come to mind; Choice and Courage.  You can choose to become more involved in our organization and help shape our future.  KCHP has volunteer opportunities available in all shapes and sizes.  Just like the courage it takes to step onto the field or court, I encourage you to step outside your comfort zone and seek out a current or former board member for a chance to play.  I guarantee we can find a position for you on the KCHP team.

Thank you and enjoy the rest of the conference!

Joe D. Slechta, PharmD, BCPS-AQ Cardiology

President, KCHP

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