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Pharmacy Leaders Podcast: Inspiring Pharmacy Leadership Interviews


May 14, 2018

Devlin Smith is a 2016 graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Pharmacy and finishing a PGY-1/PGY-2/MS Health System Pharmacy Administration as a resident at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, TX. Her background includes experience in event/tradeshow management (pre-pharmacy), leadership development (through PDC, LDS, and UTCOP), and pharmacy education (integrated curriculum design, professional development). And, as a fellow runner, she thinks its normal to say "I ran 12 miles, then 13 miles the next day." 

Full Transcript:

welcome to the pharmacy leaders podcast
with your host Tony Guerra the pharmacy
leaders podcast is a member of the
pharmacy podcast network with interviews
and advice on building your professional
network brand and a purposeful second
income from students residents and
innovative professionals
welcome to the pharmacy leaders podcast
I'm Tony Guerra author and host and
today I have deaf Lynn Smith a
second-year health pharmacy
administration resident at MD Anderson
Cancer Center in Houston Texas she
graduates in five weeks so it may be
like three weeks from when this podcast
goes out on June 15 2018 and has
accepted a role as an Associate Director
at Good Samaritan Hospital at the
University of Kentucky she is an avid
marathoner and she also rides horses has
since she was five years old so Devlin
welcome to the pharmacy leaders podcast
thanks so much
Kerry it's great to be here well the
first thing I always like to ask just to
give some context and get to get us to
know you a little bit better is
everyone's leadership road is a little
bit different tell us a little bit about
yours and how you got to where you are
but maybe start a little later in
pharmacy school since we'll be talking
PG y 1p gy2 and career definitely so my
path has actually changed a little bit
since I started from speech wonder firm
to tool which is fun I found actually
going to be a clinical pharmacy
specialist so I came in and realized
about two years and that what I really
loved is pharmacy leadership so used to
work in adventures and management I was
an undergrad and the skills and half
that I loved they're really applied to
the pharmacy leadership and from fee
management so through the next couple
years in pharmacy school I'd like to
immerse myself in things that I'm
interested in something I try to find
out anything I can about it any
experience and really just soak up any
information and this episode the next
several years which led me to a health
system part of the administration
residency
Aqua Net a day HSPA residency is what we
call them so there's a number of a more
ominous
it's actually a two-year program so
there's a first year in second year that
you sign on for at the same time and
then I also underwent masters courses
confidently so will graduate with my
masters degree and pharmacy leadership
and admin and actually next week then we
have quickly so really the program
prepares you to be in Health System
pharmacy leadership and what drew me to
that is I've always been a person that
loves change so I really have to be
change or they like to make things
better you know if I see something I
maybe should be done better maybe needs
to be fixed I immediately want to jump
on it and make it happen
so I really you know employed that
throughout first couple years of
residency and then I'm excited to use
that and this next epic Kentucky all
right well that's a lot to unpack and
we'll start with first my first question
I guess is you said you had events trade
show management as your degree so what
was your undergraduate degree or major
but that was actually a hobby
oh okay so you guys look people don't
like side hustle so a side gig or or but
that was your job you were an event
trade show manager okay so a full-time
job I was okay it was in December so in
undergrad I was a cell molecular biology
major and but then in my spare time I
was looking for a summer job one year
and ended up at this event trade show
management company and they actually
hired me to work in the warehouse and
then I ended up as a project coordinator
for them so I guess the plan events to
trade shows all those things which
amazingly enough I gave me these great
foundational skills that I use every
single day in pharmacy leadership no I I
I have an undergraduate English degree
and I didn't say I want to reach 12,000
people with my book but that's what it
ended up happening and I and if you oh
gosh I'm gonna forget his name but
there's a book that basically says you
know this the unique skills that you're
picking up with these side jobs and
things like that are actually critical
to what you do in practice and we'll
talk about that in a little bit but but
it sounds like they kind of identified
you as someone that people listen to or
someone that can organize things or
someone that loves to organize the
and move people and get things done and
then you kind of transition to a
different role so it sounds like did
they hire you for one role and then you
move to another one they did yes that
bad what happened okay
so then maybe explain to me what a
master's degree in leadership is I I see
master's degrees in leadership or
education and things like that it sounds
like yours is a very practical hands-on
can you tell me a little bit about the
master's degree first and then we'll
kind of go into the pgy one pgy to kind
of combo so the master's degree is
actually through the University of
Houston and my residency is a unique one
and that it's part of something called
the Houston program so in Houston Texas
we have the Medical Center of course the
Texas Medical Center and there are
actually seven different hospitals that
have these HSPA or pharmacy
administration programs and we all go to
class together for this master's and
pharmacy leadership and admin so the
course work is very much based on things
that you would want to know or want to
have experience in to be able to manage
a hospital pharmacy so the idea is at
the end of that two-year program and
that master's course you know master's
program you're ready to step into a
hospital and manage operations see that
clinical operation you know actual
pharmacy operations if you step into
like a specialty pharmacy role any of
those things that's what it really
prepares you for so coursework is all
very focused on that and actually pretty
custom yeah so it doesn't seem very
theoretical it seems very practical
where you're like oh this happened to me
and then you have somebody across the
table it's like oh this is how we fixed
it and there's seven of you in the class
I know Matt I know graduate programs are
sometimes a lot smaller right in my
master's degree I remember having some
times as few as nine or 10 students how
many students are actually in the
classes that you have or are you kind of
combined online or how does it work the
majority of them are actually in person
which is great because that means I have
week sex right now a maximum of nine
students or nine residents and the
program per year so we'll eventually get
to a point where we can have 18 and
classes that are both first year and
second year but it's amazing because
you're in such a small little community
you
really get to know these people and I
can't tell you how many times I've been
working on something to MD Anderson and
they're like oh my friend Andrew idiot
text his children I remember her you
know mentioning something on this and
shot her a text or an email and she's
got an answer and got an idea so it's
really created this amazing like
problem-solving environment that you get
to use and a space in which you get to
learn from other people that are doing
the same thing as you it sounds like
they're actually preparing you for
sea-level jobs you know CEO and I don't
know if that's in your future or
something that you're looking towards
but is is that part of it where there
may be developing you you're starting
whether it's a directorship but
certainly this seems like this is rather
than the MBA kind of a more practical
way of rising through that leadership
ladder
what other positions do people have
we'll talk about your position that you
got to Kentucky later but what other
positions are people getting or what
kind of positions do people get with
this type of master's degree the
majority of them will step out into like
a manager Associate Director role
similar to what I have you have a
handful that set straight into a
director role depending on the size of
the hospital obviously it's very
different big a director for you know a
200 by t hospital versus a thousand bed
academic Medical Center oh yeah
different there but depending I'm going
to do is they'll step out into those
originally as for you know long term
there are individuals that they've
graduated from HSPA programs that have
been all over the place so some go into
the vendor side there is under relations
that likes EE or you know at Texas any
place like that but you also have some
that have ended up as hospital CEOs I
can think of a hand boxed off my head
that are either a CEO or even rose to
the ranks of like a CEO o for a large
academic Medical Center just depending
on you know how much responsibility they
wanted what their career trajectory was
defined as all those details so
definitely prepares you for that and it
gives you those foundational skills
you're immersed in management and
leadership from the very beginning so
it's not a situation where you know I
have to figure out how to to practice on
my own and then someone throws me into
management and it's like Oh what I like
you like they give you those management
skills upfront I like to say my
residency specialty is the business of
pharmacy is what I call it boom that's
what our residency specialized in no
that's that's amazing and you know as
many many pharmacy schools have MBAs and
things like that but I think that that
sometimes goes too far to the corporate
into the finance side without really
working on things that are specific and
it sounds like you're talking about that
custom side that makes it specific well
it sounds like you landed in the exact
right place and as if it all went
perfectly so maybe tell us how did you
get to the point where you knew this is
where you should be applying to and then
we'll talk about fit a little bit later
but how did you know to apply to this
residency and what other residency's did
you maybe consider when you were in the
application process as a p4 yeah so I am
a huge proponent like I said of
immersing yourself in something so when
I find out I was interested in pharmacy
administration I really tried to talk to
anyone that I could that was in pharmacy
administration get experiences there and
that led me to rotation at the FDA and I
have talked with hundreds of people you
know just pick their brain on what they
do in firms the administration you know
with their career trajectory I was also
fortunate to work with hospital
Corporation of America is pharmacy
leadership and they were great great
influences on my path forward so my
residency plan and I found out about
these health system pharmacy
administration residency and it really
seemed like a best fit so I applied to a
handful of those I kind of
geographically limited myself to Texas
and Tennessee just based upon where I
wanted to be at that time so applied to
a few programs there and and then what
their the interview process and ended up
at MD Anderson you make it sound so easy
I was at a SHP and I we recorded it and
we found that it was it took almost 10
minutes for all the people to go in to
just one session so we want to say it
was thousands of people and you know you
see the three deep you know the
residents are in front you know the PG y
twos behind them and then the residency
directors you know kind of protected
behind the castle wall or whatever it
was and and so can you can
maybe tell me a little bit about how it
sounds like you did the heavy lifting
before you started going towards the
residency in terms of like figuring out
what you want I don't want to get all
foo-foo with this but how did you kind
of look inward and say this is right for
me or because the word Administration
tends to turn people off I think they
make it sound like you're in a desk and
you're pushing papers when actually I
feel like administration should just
they should just change the word to
leadership and I feel like it's always
talking to other people so if you like
talking to people this seems like the
job for you so can you tell me a little
bit about advice that you would give
somebody before they go into maybe that
a sh p mid-year meeting to kind of
discovering like hey this is how you go
look for the ones that are right for you
absolutely
so speaking of Suzu I actually took a
summer in pharmacy school as I called it
a self-reflection summer so actually
reached out is apparently meant for
leadership early reached out to a number
of friends of mine and then colleagues
that I had worked with and I asked them
you know what do you think my strengths
are and what do you think our weaknesses
are like just based on your interaction
with me your perception your observation
and got their feedback and then can't
compare it to mine and just did a lot of
thinking that summer about like what I
enjoy doing right who do I want to
become and I currently employ like a
life plan and that's still how I
approach it is what do I want my legacy
to be with my friends with my family
with my you know coworkers
how do I want to be remembered with my
approach and it helped me really
identify those things that I was good at
and that I wanted to be involved in and
many of those along with leadership so
when I get to the point where I was
starting to consider residency I'd
already fought for these things right I
kind of knew who I wanted to be here at
least the general idea of it and that's
to take a residency with it and then
with residency you created a checklist
so what kind of experiences do I want
what kind of environment is important to
me what things do our value in a
residency program a lot of that for me
was mentorship and fit I'm a firm
believer and you know you're gonna
the best even if you're in the best
program in the world
right the number one residency program
anyone can ever end up in if you're not
there with the right people it's not the
right spot for you I firmly believe that
when it comes to residency's when it
comes to job so once I have my checklist
if criteria right like I want a help
system pharmacy administration program I
want a lot of inpatient experiences I
want the master's degree with this it
was much easier than narrow things down
so by the time I get to mid year I have
a list of you know 10 programs that I
wanted to go talk to and then among
those I could narrow it down a little
bit more based on how I want you apply
to you based on the fit and the
conversation because you've got to be
able to have you know good communication
with the people you work with I mean
there's so much feedback and so much
communication and residency if that's
awkward and that's not smooth and it's
not a good fit there it's gonna be a
tough year or two for you yeah no I I I
try to I guess my recommendation is as
they go in is I keep hearing it as an
anti dating experience where you go in
you're like oh no no no in my head I had
this and this is what I saw and this is
just this is not gonna work you know and
and you can just pass by the booth so
it's not awkward you know when you have
10,000 people there but it really it
really is as you you know so many people
are like oh my gosh well I got to get my
CV to the residency director who's three
rows in or whatever and I'm like no you
just got to see if you want to hang out
with those people because those
residents are gonna end up you know the
next residents are gonna be a lot like
those because that's gonna be the people
that they bond with and it's not really
I don't know that I just find that you
know in looking at it over the years the
residents don't change a ton like in
terms of just how which kind of people
would fit in a certain place in a
certain area of the country so you you
talk about that and you're kind of
staying in the south if you're talking
Tennessee Houston I know Texas wanted to
be its own state so I don't know how
that fits in but but tell me a little
bit about how I guess so you you've got
this choice you you've got the the one
that you want um tell me a little bit
about making residency not the
end-goal we talked about this a little
bit in the pre-interview but so many
students it almost sounds like you know
after they do their residency they're
gonna get like a pension and they're
retired that's it you know they did it
they finished you know they did the
residency tell me how it's just really a
step on the you know your career your
next life yes so this is something that
I absolutely preach and support but I'm
talking to some of the students I mentor
as well like residency is not your Engel
residency is a tool and aid you know
step along the way to the end goal and
the end goal is being the pharmacist or
the leader or whatever that you want to
be so I think sometimes it's difficult
and pharmacy school because residency
gets preached so much depending upon
where you are that it's like oh my gosh
I'm gonna be nothing if I don't get a
residency well maybe your residency is
not for you maybe you're meant to go
into you know community pharmacy or
maybe you're meant to go into a staff
pharmacist role where you don't want a
residency straight out or maybe you're
gonna start a company like who knows how
that plays out there's so many things
that you know you learn outside of
residency that that play into your
career path that residency is not the
end goal there it's really just a
training tool along the way so like for
me my end goal was being in health
system leadership so whether that's
inside or outside of pharmacy thirty or
forty years from now I want to be in
health system leadership or something
related to that
I love organizing an environment for
people to shine it and like the way I
see leadership is my job is to give you
the tools and create the space for you
to go do amazing things and that's what
I want to do every single day so
residency training for me was a step to
get to that point and to get to that
point I needed this leadership and
management and master's degree so it
made sense for me there for others that
are considering maybe like a pharmacy
specialty residency is a tool to make
you an effective pharmacist when you get
out into that next job and I love how
I'm reading a book by Angelo they're
worth right now some of y'all may be
familiar it's called grit and she talks
about how it's really difficult once you
leave school that you know you don't
have a checklist of things anymore like
everyone in pharmacy school can tell you
oh I had this knee exams until the end
or this many rotations until the end and
same with residency training but real
life
that way so the point of residency
training is to prepare you and give you
the skills to be able to succeed when
there's no checklist for every day and
there's no rotation that you're on every
month so it's really that stepping stone
that just gives you everything you need
to be successful later I yeah I'm really
struggling this is my first summer off
since I was like 16 so I'm doing
teaching an online class but that's
about it so I'm I'm like what do I do I
don't know what to do so I was thinking
about talking to some retirees like hey
what do you guys do you know do you it's
not all golf right like there's there's
things to do right so okay okay
I appreciate you me giving me the answer
in five seconds or less all right so
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