Culture is a Unifying Force – and we need it now with a touch of Terroir

I recently received a copy of a newsletter written by Daniel Hussar, a prominent US pharmacist who publishes as The Pharmacist Activist.
In his latest edition he talks about the Joint Commission of Pharmacy Practitioners (JCPP) and its vision statement.
We may be concerned here in Australia at the proliferation of pharmacy organisations, but in the US there are 15 national pharmacy organisations that have their CEO’s and their chief elected officers meet as a forum and formulate a culture that is validated for the entire profession, irrespective of individual function or political agenda.
In other words, a universal umbrella under which all “faiths” can meet in a non-combative environment for the benefit of the entire range of pharmacy interests.

i2P has previously commented on the need for a pharmacy “single voice” here in Australia.
And the most important part of this problem is the fractured culture with which we all try to function.

In 2004 the JCPP formulated a vision statement for US pharmacy.
It read as follows (full details at this link):

“Pharmacists will be the health care professionals responsible for providing patient care that ensures optimal medication therapy outcomes.”

This vision statement is followed by a discussion titled, “Pharmacy Practice in 2015,” that addresses “The Foundations of Pharmacy Practice,” “How Pharmacists Will Practice,” and “How Pharmacy Practice will Benefit Society.” 
The vision statement and the supporting discussion were both bold and progressive, and provided a platform from which the JCPP and its member organisations could have developed and implemented strategies and plans that would result in the vision becoming a reality.

In Australia we have begun to realise that the culture of Australian pharmacy is in urgent need of an upgrade, but we find it difficult to progress that upgrade because we do not have a body that both develops and defines culture exclusively for pharmacists.
In that respect the US is well ahead of us by having such an organisation, but was the review period set too far away?
A lot has happened between 2004 and 2015.

In 2015, Daniel Hussar poses a number of questions for his colleagues as summarised:

“* How many pharmacists are even aware that the national pharmacy organizations established a vision for 2015?

* What are the most important actions that the national pharmacy associations have taken in the last 10 years to establish plans and actions to attain this vision?

* To what extent are patients currently (i.e., in 2015) being provided with care that ensures optimal medication therapy outcomes?

* To what extent are pharmacists recognized as the health care professionals responsible for optimal medication therapy outcomes?

*How many pharmacists can be encouraged and optimistic by their answers to these questions?

In Australia we might have asked ourselves the same questions but we don’t have the organisation to review our unified vision and values statements because our representative organisations have not come together for this purpose.
It’s certainly not a difficult exercise to envisage and such an organisation would provide an umbrella of neutrality to deal with the often combative nature of pharmacy organisations.

Daniel comments further:
“Pharmacy has NOT attained its vision for 2015.
Although many of the factors that influence the provision of health care and the roles of pharmacists are outside of the control of our profession, we must first evaluate what our 15 pharmacy organisations have done, or not done.
Are there reasons for which these organizations did not follow their collaborative decision in establishing the vision with collaborative efforts to develop the strategies and plans needed to implement it?
 I have heard several leaders of the national associations make the observation that there has never been a previous time in our profession when there has been better communication among our associations than there is now.
 If this is accurate, it is all the more reason for our profession’s failure to attain our vision for 2015, and the lack of accountability of our associations, individually and collectively, to be considered unacceptable?
What have you heard recently from any of our national associations about the vision for 2015?
In my opinion, they are hoping that this visionary statement that looked so promising 10 years ago, will quietly disappear.”

So some disappointment is evident in the above comments, but the JCPP still exists and in 2014 revised its vision statement to add to the original:

“Patients achieve optimal health and medication outcomes with pharmacists as essential and accountable providers within patient-centred, team-based healthcare.” 

You know here in Australia we are thinking along similar lines but we lack that universal endorsement because we lack a repository for pharmacy culture.
Until this is rectified we will always lag behind other countries in our thinking and will never have a leadership role because we do not openly and universally express our aspirations.
How then can individual pharmacists self-manage their own professional development without guidance infrastructure?

Daniel also reports that discussion surrounding the 2014 revised vision statement seems to be lacking, which is a shame.
It is so important to have a vibrant and lively culture if interest and stimulation is to be generated, sustained and provide an agreed and unified direction.

So what about it pharmacy organisations in Australia – can you come together and provide an umbrella group to look after our culture?

Which pharmacy organisation has the resolve to convene and sponsor a first meeting?

Even borrowing the US vision statement and generating a list of values statements would be a good start.
If you could then get an Implementation Plan together, even better!

Or are we condemned to another decade of in-fighting and fragmented communications that make it easier for other health professions competing in the primary health care space, to leave us behind in their dust.
Or do we have the mainstream media continue to mock pharmacy because it can’t point to its vision and values when under attack, for whatever the media imagines we are, or are not doing?

And as part of our culture, maybe we should be adding a dash of “Terroir”.
No, it’s not a misspelling, it’s a French word that means “a sense of place”
Seth Godin sums it up succinctly as:


You can taste it.

Heinz ketchup has no terroir. It always tastes like everywhere and nowhere and the same. A Dijon mustard from a small producer in France, though, you can taste where it came from. Foodies seek out this distinction in handcrafted chocolate or wine or just about anything where the land and environment are thought to matter.

But we can extend the idea to you, to your work, to the thing you’re building.

Visit the City Bakery in New York. Every square inch contains the DNA of the whole place. The planking of the floor. The sound as you sit on the balcony. The parade of people coming in and out. The staff. It’s not like anyplace else. It’s not like everyplace else. It’s like the City Bakery.

Consistent doesn’t mean, “like everybody else.” Consistent in this case means, “like yourself.” If we took just one drop of your work and your reputation and the trail you leave behind, could we reconstruct the rest of it?

The pressure on each of us to fit in, to industrialize, to be more like Heinz–it’s huge. But to do so is to lose the essence of what we make.

What do you think?

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