Dr. Michael Kosal takes a data-driven and analytical approach to managing pharmacy operations. In this interview with Lynn Paterini, PharmD, host of The Nontraditional Pharmacist, see what is involved in pharmacy administration, where workdays are never the same.
Pharmacy administration is a pretty broad term. Now that you are immersed in the field, how would you define it?
Michael: Pharmacy administration really is a broad sweeping title that covers anything from a supervisor role all the way up to chief pharmacy officer for several-hospital health systems. Each 1 of those roles has a slightly different scope, but they all kind of focus on the same thing and it is similar to what we were describing. The closer you are to the clinical side of things, you have more experience in those day to day activities. That might be, “okay, how do we handle this? Or what’s our vancomycin dosing look like? And things along those lines, and then, how do you operationalize that? As you move further up that chain, progressing from say supervisors to manager to director and so on, you start to interface more with folks outside of the pharmacy department and looking at how does pharmacy interface with other specialties and groups in order to unify all of health care. Looking at budgeting, operations, department interface, and a little bit of that aspect of things, all the way up to chief pharmacy officer, where you may be dictating an entire scope of pharmacy for up to 10 to 15 hospitals.
Describe your day-to-day responsibilities on the job.
Michael: That is 1 of the other things that I’ll say is absolutely exciting about pharmacy administration, your day-to-day is almost always guaranteed to change. There are certain things that you have to tackle every day. Do I have enough staff here today? Are operations working the way they’re supposed to? Are any of my machines malfunctioning or not performing their job appropriately? What’s going on in the hospital that I might need to address?” Those are the things that you kind of ask yourself as a survey every day, what things do I need to triage and tackle or are we working the way we’re supposed to? But then in addition to that, you tackle various projects, maybe you’re trying to operationalize a new approach to a clinical problem, or perhaps you’re looking at a cost-saving measure, or perhaps most people can ally with this, in the past year we’ve been managing drug shortages at an unprecedented rate. So looking at how is your facility going to adapt and adjust when the drugs that you are normally expecting to have aren’t available. How do you make sure that you’re still doing what you can for patients and that your staff are armed and equipped with what they need in order to do their job? And so 1 of the greatest advantages is the field of administration is that the day-to-day looks a little different every day. So you’re never bored. What you’re working on Monday may be totally different than what you’re working on Friday. And it really is again looking at all those interfaces to see where am I most needed today, what work needs to happen?
How would you say this role in pharmacy fulfills your personal and your professional goals? What is your ultimate goal with pharmacy administration?
Michael: Realistically, I’ve always had that feeling that pharmacy needed someone to connect the components. As we discussed before, I see it [pharmacy administration] as the patients we’re caring for, the people who are providing the care, and the business and operational side of pharmacy. So professionally, being able to sit in that position and help unify those things makes a world of difference. For the past 10, 15, 20 years, we’ve heard “patients first”. I think a lot of that causes people to focus just on the patients. And I’ve always felt that a key component of caring for patients, is caring for the people who care for patients. So our providers, our staff, etc. and it’s just as important to keep a focus on those folks and make sure that they’re empowered and they have the tools they need so that they can provide that top quality care. Often times, I find that [empowering staff] is my job, it is to take care of our people and help them do that [provide patient care]. So from that standpoint it’s very satisfying to me personally, to see the difference I can make in the lives of my associates, whether that’s helping them with scheduling, or arranging some coverage when they have an emergency arise, or even allowing them to learn new things and to put that extra knowledge into practice. To me that’s extremely satisfying. Personally, I enjoy what I do and I think it’s for someone who is looking to kind of pull all the pieces together; it’s a great opportunity.
The Nontraditional Pharmacist is a member of the Pharmacy Podcast Network.