Leading pharmacists

My doctor told me I should eat more garlic to counter the hot flashes, whether caused by a malfunctioning thyroid or because I am of a certain age. This requirement is more than fulfilled by the restaurant of Hotel du Lac which sprinkles all its dishes with enormous amounts of garlic that leave me gasping for fresh air.

We completed our first day preparing members of the ‘Order of Pharmacists’ of this country for their leadership role in realizing their mission of promoting ethical and independent behavior and honoring the pharmaceutical profession as a critical actor in promoting and maintaining good health.

After a hesitant start that made our careful planning of yesterday irrelevant from the start, we ended up with five people in the room, plus two of our colleagues. This will be the team of coaches, to oversee the leadership program that is for the rank and file who will join us on Wednesday.

Compared with facilitating a meeting of 120 people on my own only 2 weeks ago, this ratio is rather luxurious, 7 people with 2 facilitators and tomorrow only 3 participants per facilitator. Only on Wednesday will the ratio be more reasonable: 24 for the two of us.

We are retrofitting an approach painstakingly developed over the last 10 years to a situation that doesn’t quite fit the design – but it is robust enough that the general principles are relevant even to this small group. The challenges of the pharmacists lend themselves well to the Challenge Model, a visual image with embedded questions to get from mission to ‘what next tomorrow?’

We tackled questions of ethics as well as support for a profession that suffers from unregulated sellers of both legal and potentially ineffective, counterfeit or smuggled drugs – cheap prices for drugs of unknown origin and dubious effect. But with a sizable illiterate and superstitious population, such practices go easily unnoticed. The bonafide pharmacists are being asked to comply with ISO standards and engage in a lengthy, costly and rigorous certification exercise. The prize for such compliance is a promise of better earnings at a later time but many are not yet convinced. There are only a handful of early adopters (some in the room with us). The challenge is how to get more of them. That was one of our discussions today, to be continued tomorrow.

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