Throughout my career, my life as a pharmacist, I’ve endeavoured to do the best that I could at the task at hand. Whether that was as a Pharmacy Technician at Vancouver General in the 70s, as a Resident in the 80s, a Pharmacist in the 90s or an Administrator in this century, I’ve always committed to doing the best job I could. I think that is a good thing. Regardless, it was the best that I could do, so it will have to do! When I was at Lions Gate Hospital in the 80s and 90s, our President, Bob Smith, committed the hospital management and later the staff, to an educational program called Frontline Leadership. It was one of those management programs where you subscribe to the system, train the trainers in house, and then have them roll out the various modules throughout the organization. There were modules on things like how to deal with difficult people, giving constructive feedback, getting good information from others and dealing with emotional behaviour. There was also a module entitled “Basic Principles” that laid out some fundamental principles that should always be adhered to, in order to create a positive work (and dare I say home) environment. Two of the basic principles that have made a significant difference to me are: Take the Initiative to Make Things Better, and Lead by Example. I think of these often. They have become career themes for me. When I have taken my turn to lead, either at work, or in an organization, they have helped me to decide what to do.
Taking the initiative to make things better is what I think about when I encounter a challenging situation. I have to decide which of the many possible options I should pursue. The options typically include no action at all, a moderate one, and an aggressive one. In contemplating how to make things better, an action is usually required and thinking about this principle helps me to not choose the option that entails the least work or commitment, despite being busy. I hope that you’ve noticed me modelling this, and that indeed I have made a difference when I could. In different roles, my focus has been to make a difference for patients, for taxpayers, for pharmacists, or for British Columbians. These groups aren’t mutually exclusive, and when making a difference, it can be for all of them. In our personal lives, we strive to make a difference for ourselves, but also for those whom we love; our parents, partners and children.
As I’ve modelled this behaviour, I have also tried to lead by example. This principle entails much more than just getting things done. I think of it as setting the tone for the organization or group that I am leading. If I’m courteous, kind and respectful to all, it sets the tone for others to do the same. Regardless of position in the organization, job function, age or anything else, we need to be nice to people. This has been helpful to me in getting things done, as my network of contacts are open and honest with me, and are willing to help me out when I need it, as I am with them too. I think about my mentors who served as great examples for me to emulate as I advanced. As Registrar, I recall some of those who preceded me. I remember Leroy Fevang and Norm Thomas, both of whom were recognized as 50 year registrants this year. Norm was my Registrar, as he was in that position when I graduated from UBC, and when I was President of the College in the 80s. I remember them as being passionate about the profession, but very focussed on how the profession served the public. In the same way that they have served as great examples for me, I hope that I serve as a great example for others too.