Personal stories, building resilience highlighted at APhA2019 Second General Session

“What is your story? How does it fit with the profession’s story?” APhA President-elect Brad Tice, PharmD, MBA, FAPhA, asked the audience at Sunday’s Second General Session of APhA2019. Tice, senior vice president for Aspen RxHealth and CEO of RxGenomix, will be installed here in Seattle as the 164th APhA President.

In his remarks, Tice emphasized the power of telling one’s personal and professional stories to advance pharmacy’s status. “Writing pharmacy’s story together can lead this profession to even greater heights and improve medication use for the masses.”

He asked attendees to proudly tell their stories about what it means to be a pharmacist. “Let’s get out of our shell of humility and tell our story with vigor.”

Tice’s own story is one of a mission to get people on the right medications, use their medications in the right way, and achieve their desired results, “all while getting pharmacists paid to deliver their services,” he said. “When I share my stories related to that mission, people see the value pharmacists bring.”

He emphasized the importance of being a member of APhA and state associations. “There is strength in numbers and diversity, and we need everyone to be a part of APhA.” To make it easier for every pharmacist to be an APhA member, Tice said the Association will unveil new membership models in the coming months.

Tice shared stories of pharmacists serving as examples of what pharmacists are and can be. One pharmacist began offering depression screenings in the pharmacy. Another spearheads a hypertension clinic, traveling between three sites and seeing 12 patients a day. Another used a mumps outbreak in her community to provide immunization education and overcome vaccine hesitancy. “These are stories of a profession that’s grown to meet the changing needs of patients,” he said.

Tice’s final ask of attendees was to use their stories to advance provider status. “Put the pharmacist and patient face on these stories. Make people see and feel the impact you make when given the opportunity. My presidency’s goal is to make our collective story not just a book but a bestseller. Let’s write the story together of pharmacy champions conquering the villains of antiquated regulations and perverse pricing practices,” he said.

“People may be convinced by facts and figures, but they remember stories first and forever.”

Honoring pharmacy’s finest

Pharmacists recognized for their outstanding contributions to the profession received their awards during the session. The Honorary President Award was presented to Dorothy M. Smith, PharmD, and the Honorary Membership Awards went to Linda Gibson and Katherine Keough. Cortney M. Mospan, PharmD, BCACP, BCGP, received the Distinguished New Practitioner Award. The Generation Rx Award of Excellence went to George Downs, PharmD.

Three individuals received awards administered by the APhA Academy of Pharmaceutical Research & Science (APhA–APRS):

Research Achievement Award in the Pharmaceutical Sciences—Jon C. Schommer, PhD

Clinical Research Paper Award—William R. Doucette, PhD

Wiederholt Prize—Karen Suchanek Hudmon, DrPH

Five individuals received awards administered by the APhA Academy of Pharmacy Practice & Management (APhA–APPM):

Pharmacy Management Excellence Award—Brian Hille, BSPharm, RPh

Distinguished Achievement Award in Pharmacy Management—Krystalyn Weaver, PharmD

Distinguished Achievement Award in Pharmacy Practice—Kimberly C. McKeirnan, PharmD, BCACP

Distinguished Award in Service—Andrew S. Bzowyckyj, PharmD, BCPS, CDE

William H. Briner Distinguished Achievement Award in Nuclear Pharmacy Practice—Richard M. Fejka, MS, RPh, BCNP, FAPhA, CAPT (Ret.), U.S. Public Health Service

APhA–APPM and APhA–APRS also honored their newest Fellows, who will now use the “FAPhA” credential.

The skills to get through

Keynote speaker Eileen McDargh, CSP, CPAE, of the Resiliency Group, provided strategies to help attendees beat burnout at work and in their everyday lives in her address, Overcoming Burnout: Building Resilience at Work and Home. McDargh’s message fit squarely with APhA’s new major organizational initiative on enhancing the well-being of pharmacy personnel.

Over the course of APhA2019, McDargh said, she encountered many pharmacists who were struggling with lack of sleep, feelings of being worn down, and emotional detachment.

It’s true that some people have a genetic predisposition to resilience, McDargh said, but the rest of us can “retrain our brains. Neuroplasticity will allow us to create new behaviors so we can think and act in more powerful ways.” They take practice to master, but there are “a series of actions and mindsets you can take to develop resiliency skills,” she said.

“Resilience is all about energy management. Do you have the mental, emotional, and physical hardiness to keep on keeping on? And how we get energy is through the connections that we make,” she said. “If you want to start your car, you turn the key or you push the button, depending on what kind of car you have. The spark flies and hits the battery, and if there’s a good connection, the car moves forward. If it’s a bad connection, that car doesn’t move. Resiliency is not bouncing back. It’s about going through.”

McDargh cited four resiliency skills: adaptability, agility, “laugh-ability,” and alignment.

For adaptability, she encouraged the audience to use the words, “I choose to do,” rather than, “I have to do.” McDargh likes the biology term “requisite variety,” which states that the organism with the greatest number of responses is the one that survives. “You want multiple ways of choosing how you deliver what it is that you do for the patients you take care of,” she said.

Practice intelligent optimism to turn negatives into positives. “Intelligent optimism is when you reframe a bad hair day as a great hat day. Don’t let the brain overwhelm the heart,” McDargh said.

When feeling anxious, control the controllable. “Oftentimes, [for] those things we think we can’t control, we might need some help. ‘What are other ways that I can control this?’” As a Californian, McDargh learned as much as she could about earthquakes to cope with her anxiety about “the big one.”

“I can’t control earthquakes, but I have one of the most earthquake-proof houses that you can think of. But it took me 15 years to do that, because what I knew and what I did were two different things. So what is it that you can control? Work around that, because that’s where your place of power comes from.”

Check what claims your time. “We keep going on and on and on, and all of a sudden we wonder where our life went.” McDargh recommended attendees use a log to keep track of each activity, how much time it took, who they dealt with, and how they carried it out. After a while, she said, “You begin to notice a pattern. I looked at mine and thought, ‘Why am I doing this? Why am I doing it that way?’ And I saw where some things were going haywire because I was not making choices that would allow me to get back into some kind of center.” This realization led McDargh to decline another year on the board of a national organization.

McDargh urged attendees to develop their own horse sense. “Horse sense is the ability to say, ‘Neigh.’ You cannot continue giving out and giving out until you take time for yourself,” she said. “Stop and breathe.”