Finding the "I" in Leadership

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Finding the "I" in Leadership 

By Kyle R. Bagin

As AACP Interim Meeting participants discovered, making their mark in pharmacy education requires embracing the many changes within the nation’s health system.

Leadership often requires a view of the bigger picture, but that’s not always easy in this new era of healthcare delivery in the United States. It can be difficult to grasp where pharmacy education stands, let alone where it’s going.

At the 2014 AACP Interim Meeting, Feb. 8–11, attendees learned how to best lead their institutions through the continuously evolving field of healthcare. Initiating new partnerships, discovering innovation in higher education and learning about new approaches in healthcare delivery were just some of the tools meeting-goers were given to turn their untapped leadership skills into action.

A Family Affair

“This is a time of change in healthcare, and the pace is incredible.” During her opening keynote address, Beverley H. Johnson, president and CEO of the Institute for Patient- and Family-Centered Care, described the landscape in which today’s health professionals operate. By doing so, she highlighted how pharmacy education can help direct this future in flux. “We have to have a healthcare system grounded in primary care.” The most effective future, she added, is created by moving away from the current dynamic between patient and provider. “Organizations need to make the patient central” to the healthcare team and it’s important that providers “not talk at, or above, or to a patient, but with them.”

Using her own mother as an example, Johnson illustrated how family members can be allies for quality and safety, as they are often closely monitoring the health of their family. Preparing students for the team-based environment should include the patient and his or her family as members of the team.

Continuing this theme, Amy Gibson, chief operating officer at the Patient-Centered Primary Care Collaborative, detailed how many of the issues facing healthcare can be solved by strengthening primary care through the patient-centered medical home. Gibson described the medical home model as revolving around several features: making the patient central to care, and making care comprehensive, coordinated, accessible and committed to quality and safety. Though she recognized that trying to transform the health system “was like trying to fix a bike while riding it,” her vision for the future of healthcare–one of collaborative care, integrated electronic records and shared risk/reward structures–was echoed by many of her colleagues throughout the conference.

Locally Grown

“We are in the dawn of digital medicine,” Dr. Gary A. Puckrein, president and CEO of the National Minority Quality Forum, informed the crowd. “And that means more than just electronic health records.” Puckrein demonstrated how to discover in-depth community health information and forge partnerships with local organizations, while also providing a glimpse into the future of health technology. “We are, in effect, information systems—and we are just starting to tap into all that information.” Citing new platforms such as’s Blue Button Connector initiative, and Microsoft and Google products collecting real-time health data, Puckrein explained that as this wealth of information is collected, digital medicine will shift the field’s focus to a population level.

These innovations in technology, however, aren’t simply confined to practice. Dr. Holly Ludgate, senior director for program development at the New Media Consortium, explored the rapidly changing ways in which technology is transforming education. Examples include Pennsylvania State University’s “One-Button Studio,” which allows faculty to record polished, ready-to-view video lessons, as well as a student’s triumph over cerebral palsy with the aid of computer programs that monitor head movements. The bottom line is that technology is enabling both sides of the education equation to access more engaging and effective content and learning methods. Ludgate acknowledged that “educators are the most challenging students” due to barriers such as low “digital fluency;” however, informal learning and professional development are helping to close the gap. With advanced technology such as 3D printing quickly becoming more commonplace, innovative teaching methods, from the flipped classroom to educational gaming, will continue to rise and meet the challenge.

The New Normal

In preparation for these groundswells in the field, the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education held an open forum to discuss changes to accreditation policy highlighted in their Draft Standards 2016 report. Dr. Jeffrey W. Wadelin, associate executive director of ACPE, informed attendees that the organization is changing the old standards in response to user experience, stakeholder feedback from their 2012 ACPE Invitational Conference, the changing legal landscape and the release of the new 2013 CAPE Educational Outcomes. The new draft standards, he explained, “represent an evolutionary change, rather than a revolutionary change.”

With a new format that differentiates between key elements of accreditation and non-essential guidance goals, Wadelin noted that the changes can help pharmacy schools better understand the issues behind achieving a standard. A shift in philosophy means the new standards are designed to “ensure graduating students are ‘practice-ready’ and ‘team-ready,’” with a greater emphasis on the “critical education outcomes identified by CAPE and the assessment of student achievement of outcomes.”

Being “team-ready” was the focus of a panel of experts that provided insight into the demand for interprofessionally-trained graduates, as well as success stories in developing a school culture where interprofessional education is valued. Dr. Leo E. Rouse, deputy provost for health science and dean at the Howard University College of Dentistry, called accreditation the “elephant in the china cabinet.” To create a culture that values IPE, he said, change must come from the top–and those attitudes are moved by changes in the accreditation standards. Faculty should speak candidly, the panel advised, with their superiors about the type of training healthcare professionals need to help round out the “health home.”

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

With all of these changes affecting technology, accreditation and the broader health system, higher education must also adapt. Dr. Robert Brodnick, director of the AMI Institute within the Association for Managers of Innovation, challenged existing and potential leaders to solve problems in innovative new ways. Defining innovation as “putting ideas into valuable action,” he framed methods for finding creative solutions to institutional issues such as designing collaborative interprofessional partnerships and diversifying revenue streams. Breaking into groups, attendees had to work fast to apply their chosen method to one of these issues and present their findings. Brodnick led a concluding discussion comparing the merits of each method to each problem, with audience feedback fueling the dialogue.

Continuous change and innovation can lead to miscommunication. Making an effective impression with the media can help achieve support for new initiatives, change images and attitudes, and open up even greater opportunities for partnership and improvement. “Every interview is an opportunity,” said Stephanie Saunders Fouch, interim director of communications and marketing at AACP. Audience members revealed their biggest fears in speaking with the media, while Fouch provided best practices to overcome them, make effective contact, and navigate in a crisis. In keeping with the meeting’s trend of changing technology and innovation, participants had great interest in how to best use social media to meet their goals. “Twitter is a conversation,” Fouch told the crowd. “Tweet like a person!”

The I’s Have It

AACP Interim Meeting attendees at both the individual and institutional levels set out to discover innovations and initiate partnerships to influence healthcare. After four days of rigorous professional development, participants undoubtedly returned home with a clear perspective on the future of the health system and a full arsenal with which to lead their institutions to effectively embrace it.

Kyle R. Bagin is Communications Assistant at AACP;

Last updated on: 3/31/2014 4:57 PM 

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