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ASHP Election thoughts for 2010


August 18th is the deadline for voting in the Am Society of Health System Pharmacists (ASHP) elections.   Please vote.  Some have asked me who I am voting for.  I have given this more thought than normal this year.  This is partly because of my disagreements with my professional  association and belief that a significant change is needed.  Here are my recommendations for the General and Section for Pharmacy Informatics and Technology.

General Election
As a way to gear each candidates thinking and views, I emailed each candidate their thoughts on the following:

  • I  have struggled on the role of our professional society in injustices. Can you provide your views on the Eric Cropp case?  
  • What is ASHP's role in defending a Just Culture beyond policy statements?  
  • What should the role of ASHP be in defending pharmacists that are prosecuted for errors in the course of practice?

I will summarize the responses and explain why I believe this is a good surrogate marker for a leader.  Since the emails where personal communication, I will not share the exact content, but will give my impressions.  First, I have been a bit obsessed with the professional tragedy of Eric Cropp.  It has perplexed me at times.  It is just that I have been in and seen too many identical circumstances that mirror what happen to Mr. Cropp.  For him to go to jail of doing his job is the greatest injustice in health system pharmacy history.  Therefore, how candidates view this case and the role of ASHP is a reasonable marker for their thinking and views on member services and defending just culture; two important roles for the organization.

A leader should be able to analyse a situation objectively and arrive at a conclusion that is based on his/her core believes, based on the facts presented.  Having a clear and decisive view is better than burying ones head in the sand, which was the response from ASHP in the Cropp case.  I have more respect for people that have a clear response and position, even though I may disagree, than people that hide behind facts not in evidence or are non committal.   Reminds me of this from Dante’s Inferno  "The hottest place in hell is reserved for those who in time of crisis preferred to remain neutral."  It seems to me that pharmacists going to jail in the course of practice is a crisis.

One more qualification.  None of the candidates encouraged me to do anything.  They are specifically asked not to do this and have not done so.  This is completely and solely on my own initiative.

Candidates for President
Both candidates where kind enough to respond to the above questions.   

Should a membership organization support members?  The response by nursing organization to individual cases of injustice have been strikingly different.  They have come to the aid with statements, support and legal aid.  While I would not necessarily expect legal aid for individuals from a professional organization, some level of support in in the form of press releases, offer of testimony and resolutions would be reasonable in my mind.  

It seems that commenting on an individual TV show but not individual members, is a role of ASHP.  I find this repulsive and a lack of leadership from current ASHP officials.  Luckily it looks like we have some outstanding new leaders in the wings.

Kathryn Schultz
She believes that ASHP’s role is in policy development.  Individual members be dammed, was my interpretation of her response.  Even in the case of a gross injustice, lots of luck, she clearly believes you are on your own and there is no role in a membership organization in helping individual members. Her speech on the ASHP site was a bit of bla bla bla, as well.

Stan Kent

My nod goes to Stan Kent because of his understanding and focus on informatics and leadership development.  Leadership is something the organization clearly needs.  While he supports help to members, he was silent during the Eric Cropp case and hid a bit behind not knowing all of the facts or not choosing to find them.  Since actions speak louder than words, I have some reservations, but believe his is a good man deserving of the job.

Candidates for Board of Directors
These choices are much clearer.  Candidates for the three year term (vote for two)

Ernest Anderson
His understanding and support of a just culture for members is impressive.  He provided some terrific material on the subject.  He has a series of lectures on leadership that are stellar.   Similar to Stan, Ernie seemed a bit reluctant to stick his neck out during the Cropp crisis, so he needs to stand up and be counted in his Board role.  Being from Massachusetts, I have run into him from time to time and he has an impeccable reputation.  He deserves your vote.

Larry Clark
His email was wrong in the election bulletin.  I called him and he sent me the correct one.  He chose not to respond to the questions posed.  I would choose not to vote for him.

Thomas Johnson
A terrific and eloquent response to my questions was received.  He supports members and deserves your support and vote.

Mary Ann Kiethermes
Did not hear a peep.  I would not vote for someone that ignores members.

Candidate for two year term (vote for one)
Eric Hola
This gentleman had a heartfelt and eloquent response to my questions.  He would be an asset to members and the organization.  I had the pleasure to see Eric in action at regional delegate and House of Delegate meetings.  Eric is one of the most thoughtful leaders in health system pharmacy.  He should run for President and you should vote for him.

Randy Kuiper
Email was wrong in the bulletin and a follow up phone call was unanswered.  As with Ms. Keithermes,  I would not vote for someone that ignores members.

Section of Pharmacy Informatics and Technology
I have less of a philosophical issue here, and did not pose an acid test to these folks.  It comes down to who I know and respect from personal experience.
My vote goes to Allen Flynn, hand down.  I have had the honor and privilege to co-chair the clinical information system group with him.  Allen is one of the top informatic thinkers I have ever met.  No disrespect to Ron Burnette, as I simply do not know him as well.

Stan Pestotnik is the man.  Since he has cashed out on TheraDoc, it is our win to have him represent informatics and the organization.  Stan is a treasure in pharmacy informatics.  Please give him your support.  Again there is no disrespect to Sylvia Thomley.

John Poikonen


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