Leadership in action: Inspiring the next generation


The “inspiring preceptor” (Scott Knoer, PharmD) and the “passionate student pharmacist” (Myriam Shaw Ojeda).

By Scott Knoer, PharmD, and Myriam Shaw Ojeda

Through a health system pharmacy administration rotation, residency, and/or career, a pharmacist can maximize the ability to influence patient care and view the big picture of pharmacy leadership. This article will provide career thoughts from an inspiring preceptor and rotation perspectives from a passionate student pharmacist.   

Scott Knoer, PharmD

As the Chief Pharmacy Officer (CPO) at the Cleveland Clinic, I influence the practice of pharmacy and help improve patient care on a global level. I feel truly fortunate to have been granted this opportunity. This gratitude fuels my sense of professional obligation to maximize the platform that I have been given for the good of humanity. 

In 1994, I didn’t have a big job with a big title. I was in my second year of pharmacy school. As a non-traditional student with previous leadership experience, I knew that I wanted to combine my management background with a career in pharmacy. After working in a hospital as a pharmacy intern, I determined that I wanted to lead a department in an academic medical center.  

To understand how best to achieve this goal, I scheduled an appointment with James Dube, the Director of 
Pharmacy at the University of Nebraska Medical Center at the time. Jim was the first person who told me about and encouraged me to pursue a combined PGY1/ PGY2 administrative residency with an MS degree in Hospital (now Health System) Pharmacy Administration (HSPA). Although I didn’t know it at the time, this was the most influential meeting of my career, as it set in motion the journey that ultimately resulted in who I am now.

Remembering that an established leader took the time to guide me as a student has affected me significantly. Although I have a very busy schedule, I always find time to discuss careers with interested students. I have found that one of the most successful ways to shine the light on leadership careers is to precept APPE students on a rotation in health-system pharmacy management and leadership.

Myriam Shaw Ojeda

I have always been driven by a calling to make a difference in people’s lives through leadership. As I applied for APPE rotations, I sought to experience specialized leadership training. 

I learned so much from my month shadowing Dr. Knoer and Jordan Long, PharmD, an HSPA PGY2 resident, in a layered learning format. The first surprising aspect of a CPO’s job is that no 2 days are alike. We did everything from discussing book clubs over breakfast to sharing opinions during a strategy meeting. 

I watched in amazement as the leadership principles I read in books walked off the pages and became realities through each interaction. I learned that leadership is all about relationships. The Cleveland Clinic team pushes boundaries because of the credibility and trust they have earned and the relationships they have built. 

Dr. Knoer advocated for pharmacy in each conversation. Sometimes it was planned, but most of the time it was instinctive. Pharmacy has become so ingrained in his leadership that he can weave it seamlessly into conversations with non-pharmacy leaders. 

Finally, the layered learning model showed me the importance of Intentional mentorship. Drs. Knoer and Long never passed up an opportunity to mentor me and other students. This inspired me to be more mindful to reach out and support the students coming behind me. 

What skills did I observe that can make student pharmacists effective leaders? The first is the ability to be a visionary. A leader guides her team to a higher, sometimes unseen goal. The second is an inner drive that will push a leader through difficult times. Last, leaders need to take a sincere interest in people. When you give an individual your time you show them that they matter to you. This will foster the development of a loyal and driven team.  

As a pharmacy clinician, you get to see patients improve before your eyes, which is very rewarding. As a successful pharmacy leader, you have an impact on entire populations of patients. Although you don’t see evidence of your influence daily, over time you become aware of the significance that you can achieve through developing others and by creating a culture of innovation.