business healthcare

Healthcare Leadership: Hospital Pharmacy: Background

“I would prefer to spend time discussing briefly our greatest need in hospital pharmacy – leadership” (Francke, 1955). The need to discuss pharmacy leadership is still relevant today. There is a great lack of leadership that still exists in the pharmacy profession. Leadership comprises capacity, goals, and efficacy. Hospital organizations are unique because they are comprised of many diverse units that work together for a common goal. Each of those units need strong leaders to guide their staff to achieve clinical outcomes. The pharmacy department is no exception.

There are only a few accredited pharmacy management or leadership residencies. Sara White, a distinguished resident of the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP), believes there are seven elements of leadership:

  1. Have a written work group vision and mission.
  2. Work effectively to accomplish actual results.
  3. Persevere and persist.
  4. Influence through attitude and approach.
  5. Work well with others.
  6. Lead oneself so people want to work with the leader.
  7. Invest in the future.


These elements revolve around better employees, the organization, and of course, the patient. Succinctly, White puts it, “Leaders are disciplined, patient, assertive, confident, and accountable” (2006, p. 1498). There are many attributes that good leaders have and these should be incorporated into specific leadership training for the pharmacy profession.

Hospital pharmacy is a very complex department within a medical system. There are many subsections within a pharmacy department which makes it difficult for the pharmacy manager. Generically speaking, systems thinking is especially relevant to the pharmacy department (Scahill, 2008). In order for the manager to know whether or not policies are working, he/she must think about how all of the subdivisions work together. The manager needs to find out if and where there is a gap in the system and find the best way to fix it. The ASHP published an audit about hospital pharmacy services. Reflecting upon the audit, Higby (2014) noticed reoccurring patterns and themes in great hospital pharmacy services. He constructed “leadership lessons” that should be applied to these services to make them more beneficial, not only to patients, but also to the employees that work in the department. The top lessons are: obtain outside help and expertise as needed; analyze, digest, and think; and have clear objectives (Higby, 2014). Leaders should integrate knowledge from multiple sources in order to make the best decisions.