What is your Comfort Level?

 My wife and I were recently on a week-long trip visiting some good friends in Colorado.  One of the days happened to be the annual opening of the local community swimming pool.  My friend, Marty, and I started chatting about this and realized we both, in our younger years, enjoyed playing on diving boards.  We both decided it would be a great idea for us to visit the pool on opening day and see if we could remember how to dive.  We arrive just after opening, at 11:30 a.m.

As we approach the kiosk to pay our entrance fee I am caught off guard when I noticed there is a discount for seniors.  At 55 years old, I now qualify for senior discount at certain establishments, and evidently, the community swimming pool in Longmont, Colorado is just one of those places.  Never having received a senior discount before in my life, this turned out to be quite a novel experience for me.  Surprisingly, it was much less of an ordeal than I had imagined it would be.

We enter the pool area and see just three or four kids in the pool; however, there is a flurry of young lifeguards-in-training scurrying about.  An interesting moment of tranquility came over both of us, realizing we had the diving boards to ourselves, and a team of lifeguards surrounding us; just in case.

It's been over ten years since I have been on a high dive, and probably 20 since I have tried a gainer.  I feel myself bounce, upward momentum with a back spin, and slap.  I make it three quarters of the way around and land in a tuck, face first.  Next, I find myself climbing up the ladder to the high dive once again.  Thinking to myself, must-spin-more.  Again, I bounce upward momentum with a back tuck and spin.  My body completes the roll and I feel my legs stretch out below me as my feet hit the water. 

Certainly I am not here to teach anyone how to dive into a pool.  My point is we should not let our age dictate our activities or ambitions.  We tend to become comfortable with our surroundings.  Comfort is not a bad place to be; however, if our growth is limited we need to take some time to evaluate our passion.

In my opinion, the pharmacy world has an abundance of extremely qualified professionals.  We are excellent performers with incredible attention to detail.  Clinically, we are second to none, prescribe appropriate follow up in all scenarios and are comfortable with medication education discussions with medical and nursing staff.  We are perfectly adept at patient counseling, understand that different patients require different levels of education and are fluid and dynamic enough to overcome individual patient barriers and provide the information necessary to complete a medication counseling session at the pharmacy counter.

As a pharmacist, there is absolutely nothing wrong with this type of practice.  Many pharmacists work very hard to maintain this level of practice.  The issue is, if we don't have some pharmacists that continue to follow their passion, the profession of pharmacy will never advance.

Over the years, pharmacists have moved from behind the counter, out to where the patient is, providing needed medication counseling.  We have moved from the basement of hospitals, up to the patient floors, providing clinical education for medical and nursing staff and recommendations on patient care.  Pharmacists now provide Medication Therapy Management and Vaccination services during house calls.  In some facilities pharmacists are regularly involved in patient rounds and visit patients at their bedside prior to discharge.  Pharmacists are achieving provider status.  These are but a few of the avenues that pharmacy has expanded over the past few decades. 

Absolutely none of this advancement would have happened if it weren't for passionate pharmacists stepping out of their comfort zones in order to promote the profession of pharmacy.  These are pharmacists who have found a passion in their work and are not afraid to talk about it.  They bring their passion home with them and live with it 24 hours a day.  Pharmacy is not just a job; it is a calling for them, to move the profession forward while providing a needed service.

I can't define exactly where my passion came from.  I have a feeling that it is in us all along and it just takes a situation or some certain awareness to bring it to the surface.  Once it is sparked, it can easily burn out unless it is recognized and exercised on a daily basis. 

As I have said many times before, the administrators are not going to come looking for you unless you have done something wrong.  Comfortable pharmacists work hard, perform well, and are rarely visited by administrators. 

The question is, what are you doing to do to move out of your comfort zone? What is it that you have a passion for? What are you willing to do the leg work for, and then take to your administrator to show them how it will change and affect patient outcome in a positive way?