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Pharmacy Leaders Podcast: Inspiring Pharmacy Leadership Interviews


Mar 5, 2018

In this episode, Jackie Boyle hosts Sarah Sorum, PharmD, Senior Vice President of Professional Services for the Pharmacy Society of Wisconsin (PSW). Sarah discusses the importance of servant leadership, her leadership experiences and training. Her focus on serving others, self-care, and care for her team has allowed her to develop her leadership style that brings purpose and passion to her state organization and all she interacts with. 
 
Sarah brings up a great leadership article from HBR called "Who's Got the Monkey?" which you can find here: https://hbr.org/1999/11/management-time-whos-got-the-monkey and the HBR Women at Work podcast as two go-to leadership resources for women leaders. 

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 so welcome everyone to pharmacy leaders podcast my name is Jackie Boyle from the pharmacy girl and I'm so excited to have Sarah Sorum joining us this afternoon Sarah is currently the senior vice president of professional services for the pharmacy Society of Wisconsin where she oversees members services communications education practice advancement population health and many other things Sarah is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison school and pharmacy and completed a community pharmacy residency through University of Iowa College of Pharmacy in Iowa so Sarah thank you so much for being on the pharmacy leaders podcast well thanks for having me Jackie I'm thrilled to be a part of this this program well great I know all of us have different journeys in our professional life and yours sounds fascinating so can you tell us a little bit more about your professional life absolutely well as you mentioned I currently have the opportunity to serve the members of the pharmacy Society of Wisconsin as a staff member of our state pharmacy Association and I've really enjoyed doing that over the last 10 years my colleague at the Iowa pharmacy Association Anthony Pudlo was making fun of me the other day when I was promoted to senior vice president that I was getting up in years but I still feel like I'm I still really feel like I'm young in my career and it just feels like yesterday I was doing my community residency which was something that was really important to me when I finished school that I have additional opportunities to Train and I really wanted to select my first position out of pharmacy school to be a position where I would be further mentored and really have an opportunity to work under progressive thinking pharmacist so having a position as a community resident was exciting for me and to be able to train with the team at Osterhaus pharmacy in little Maquoketa Iowa and as Bob Osterhaus does Maquoketa is the center of the universe I really felt that as a resident and really appreciated that catapulting into my career so after finishing my community residency I took a position at a community pharmacy in Cedar Rapids Iowa and it was really interesting how I obtained that role I was actually unemployed when I finished my residency and it's sort of like your residents worst nightmare that you wouldn't have a job when you finish your residency and I was geographically limited I wanted something in the Cedar Rapids Iowa area so at the time they were still yellow page it is really have those now but I opened up the yellow pages and I thought well perhaps independent pharmacy might give me the best opportunity to use the skill set that I learned it as a community resident so I literally just went through the yellow pages calling every independent pharmacy from A to Z and I came upon Reitzel pharmacy under our and Becky Reitzel gave me an opportunity to expand the clinical services that they offered at their pharmacy and I'm really forever grateful for that opportunity I was able to grow in my clinical services offerings that year and that really gave me the confidence to be able to take the job that I have now at PSW wow that's really an interesting journey and yeah to think back of networking you know be pre-internet era and how you went about doing that is really cool because I think there's something that we've lost a little bit with you know the ease of connectivity we're not talking on the phone as much and reaching out to people that way and I'm really glad too that you the unique aspects of community pharmacy residences because they're obviously not as populous and number but provides some really unique experiences that have obviously set you up for success - so tell us a little bit about you know being a woman leader what has your journey been like has it been maybe any different because you're a woman or have you experienced anything that has made that leadership process unique so it's really only been in the last few years that I have started to think about my leadership journey differently as a woman prior to that I really just thought of it as a leadership journey wasn't necessarily thinking about it differently as a woman so maybe that's evolved because of my experiences are a little more seasoned now that I'm about 15 years into my career but I've also had some formative experiences where I've had the opportunity to glean little tidbits of information from a lot of really amazing leaders within our organization at PSW and national leaders and so it's caused me to think a little bit more about my leadership journey as a woman so as I started out at PSW I really was just learning the ropes and a few years then I was able to start supervising a staff member and a student but it was really just that and I've really expanded that and grown in my role and I'm supervising more staff now really talented staff and interns and other students as well as a lot of volunteer leaders so I felt like I've had to think more about my leadership approach more than just winging it anymore and so things like these podcasts frankly or some articles or have also found other podcasts like there's some Harvard Business Review women at work podcasts I listened to that caused me to have a little bit more reflection over some of the experiences that I'm having and that some of the things that I'm saying in my leadership journey aren't necessarily unique to me that it provides some validation that you know for example when you're when you're perhaps overlooked - maybe unintentionally for something or you're feeling like that imposter syndrome or feeling like I'm not good enough in something that that's something other people are experiencing and you need to give credit to that and recognize that and figure out how to overcome that so I feel like that's been something just in the last few years that I've been able to better understand and articulate about myself thanks for mentioning you know podcasts are a great way to feel like learn on the go - I don't know when you typically will listen to them I know for me it's usually on the way to work and back from work I have about a half hour drive so when do you fit in time for learning through podcasting yeah it's really hard and I've only really just stumbled into it the last year so I've I was noticing a lot of other members of our staff team here we're listening to podcasts and I was like just never even thought to listen to them so I guess I squeezed them in like Saturday mornings when I'm getting ready or you know maybe just sort of having a moment in the afternoon to myself on the weekends or like you said driving time is a good one so you know if I'm traveling for work or something like that I'll usually try and make a point to download some I'm not anywhere near the level of podcast listener that some people are so it's not it's just something like a sprinkling in that I've tried to do along with sort of reading some things that people are sharing on Facebook or that I'm following on various other list serves yeah I'm with you I'm I feel like I'm at the infant stage of knowing what pod throughout there like that women in work one that you just mentioned I heard about it just yesterday and this is the second time I've heard of it before that I had no idea it existed so there's so many resources that are out there sometimes it feels a little overwhelming but I wanted to follow up on something that I heard you mentioned and that was serving in the PSW and I know we've talked before about servant leadership and what that means can you tell us a little bit more about your perspective on what it means to be a servant leader yeah absolutely so you know throughout this journey that I've had these last 15 years if you want to call it that I've ultimately decided at least at this point that I want to do the best that I can to position my team whether that's my colleagues or our members to be as successful as they can be and to achieve the goals that they have for their career for their patients so I really want to help them position themselves to be successful and I wasn't sure how to articulate that if that was you know some type of leadership philosophy but what I've learned that to be is the servant leadership and at least an aspect of servant leadership and I really feel like you mentioned an infancy and learning about podcast they really feel like I'm in an infant and learning about servant leadership but it's new - it's a new concept to me but certainly something that speaks to my philosophy about how I approach my work and I what I would explain that as is that my work is - or my leadership approach is that I want to serve the organization or the profession first and foremost it's about making an impact for patients I want to do that and that because of that I want to lead and not that I want to lead to be a leader and that that's I aspire to be a leader but that I aspire to serve the profession and because of that it want to lead so that's really I guess in a nutshell how I felt about sort of the last couple of years of my career and how I think I look at what I how I'd like to approach things for the next sort of phase of my career thank you for sharing that perspective I know I when I talk to students when I'm teaching them about professional organizations and getting involved the servant leadership is the framework in which I presented to them and I really love this one quote from Ghandi the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others and I found that so many times to be true that I've learned so much about myself and how rewarding it is to give to others through organization work or community service it's really in those times that I find myself most fulfilled I don't know if you've also felt that way it really sounds like it has but I don't want to assume that for you yeah oh that is such a poignant quote I love that yeah I've definitely found that to be true but I have also seen that so you know we have opportunity to work with just a ton of volunteers and everyone will say you know I get more out of my work with the Association or for the profession then I get more out of it than what I feel like I put into it and these people these are all people that are investing a lot of time and energy into the work that they're doing so there must be truth to that I feel that and certainly is a way to feel reward and fulfillment in your in your professional life yeah there's definitely something different and I don't know how to quantify it or describe it about volunteer work and it's really cool to hear from you know you be in that position of a volunteer organization how you get to see that and be energized by that every day that's that's awesome um so let's go or let's turn in a little bit of a different direction what do you think is you've learned through your leadership journey what do you think are some misconceptions about maybe leadership or what makes a great leader so I feel like I have learned that you don't have to put work before everything else so I feel like the way we're trained as students and residents and maybe this is just generationally and maybe this is changing but really the way we're trained is that you know work professional life needs to come before everything else and you should be expending every last ounce of energy you have and burning the midnight oil on your work and your leadership development and all of that but I have found that that is not the case and that you can be a better rounded professional and be more creative and actually lead better when you're not putting work before everything else I've also found that it's important to advocate for your team and that that's just as important as advocating for yourself but that you shouldn't not advocate for yourself you need to be sure you're also advocating for yourself and not just taking sacrifices for the team so it's a careful balance so you know that I think some of that is just like sort of ingrained in us professionally and also maybe it's a characteristic of women too that you tend to put yourself last and you tend to be a team player and not advocate for yourself and but I really have to turn that on its head in order for you to really sort of advance and really also be healthy and mentally healthy and mindful of the work that you're doing mm-hmm yeah I completely agree I read one of my favorite leadership's book books total leadership um was kind of unlike any other leadership book I've read but it  talks about focusing on four domains of leadership one of those being leading herself and making sure we're taking care of ourselves because I agree I find sometimes my self-care will suffer and then I recognize that and you know try to recover somehow but I love the point you brought up to about taking care of your team I know around 4:00 or 4:30 every day I remind our residents like don't stay forever go home but it is having those teammates to recognize you know when maybe you've worked enough hours for the day or if there's not an emergency and patient care it's time to call it a wrap we can always do more work tomorrow so your team is definitely fortunate to have heavier round 2 to be looking out for them that's great all right so locate was thinking about women leadership in general as you've started learning more about it experiencing it yourself where do you see the biggest challenge is life for women leaders or maybe what are some big challenges have that you've faced so far yeah so I still feel like I'm just figuring all this out with the rest of everybody and so I certainly don't feel like I'm I've got this all figured out but one of the things that I've found to be super helpful is Mike Brownlee who's the director of pharmacy at University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics does a leadership workshop along with Steve ah who's the director firm see it University of Wisconsin Hospital clinics at our Leadership Conference every year and I had the opportunity to go to that each year as a staff member and so I get to glean little bit set that Leadership Conference every year which is pretty special and one of the articles that Mike Brownlee suggested that I read was actually an article it was written in 1974 in the Harvard Business Review and it's called who's got your monkey and I read that article and if you haven't read it I would so recommend it and it's about taking on other people's monkeys and we take on the care and feeding of other people's monkeys and by monkey I mean their challenges and issues at work and they bring you a challenge that there may be having in their scope of work and you instead of empowering them to take care of their own monkey you take care of the monkey for them and pretty soon you're taking care of us do of monkeys in your office just the the analogy and the visual of that was so powerful for me that and just hit me at the right point in my career that that has helped me immensely so I think as a woman I tend to oh I can totally help you with that let me do that for you yes I can take that on I've always been sort of a people pleaser a yes person but what I've learned to do is try and help empower people give them a right tools and resources but empower people to have the right skills and training and confidence to take care of the challenges and barriers that they're presented with so when they bring me an issue trying to help them troubleshoot and problem-solve through that and then empower them to take care of that and that has been just like work changing for me so that's been something that I felt really valuable but another challenge that I struggle with is one I mentioned just earlier and that's sort of this imposter syndrome challenge of am I really supposed to be here do I know enough to be having these conversations do I am I a good enough leader to be interviewed for the podcast and those kinds of things that enter our minds on a daily weekly yearly basis and what I found to be helpful with that is to just throw myself out there every once in a while so while when I was asked to do this podcast I said oh I see I don't know there's probably like a dozen people I could think of that would be better to be interviewed I thought well why not I'll give it a shot and so kind of getting outside that comfort zone and stretching myself a little bit further has been a strategy I've tried to overcome that challenge with oh my gosh well number one you're definitely qualified to be on this podcast and that resonated with me so much I remember when Tony Guerra who is the leader of this podcast asked me to host I was like what are you sure are you making a mistake like you are you talking to the right person so I think the recognition that others do feel this way and that you know pushing yourself out of out of your comfort zone and then gaining that experience and reflecting back on it say hey I didn't die like it was a good experience and I learned a lot from it and I've gained some confidence so so absolutely I'm I was I was honored to have you as my guest and secondly the I've never heard of the article I need to find it now so HBR who's got my monkey he says yeah if you just google HBR who's got the monkey apparently it's one of the top best selling reprints that the Harvard Business Review has ever put out I think they reprinted it in like 1999 now the terminology they use is actually quite starkly different than we would use now I mean they talk about subordinates and terminology we wouldn't use today but the concepts are still super relevant and the visual imagery that it provides is just like so right on oh yeah I'm imagining like a room full of crazy monkeys and trying to tame them and trying to take care of my own which just is visually hilarious but also chaotic so alright I'm gonna try to find it and I'll link it to our show notes so that listeners can check it out too because I know I'm definitely going to read it after today so thanks for sharing so flipping it to a more positive note where do you think women leaders have opportunities in our profession or beyond yeah there's so many exciting things happening in pharmacy practice right now and I think the opportunities for women leaders are really in a variety of sectors I get a little discouraged when I talk to some of the fourth-year pharmacy students that we have coming through our rotation site and they're interested in doing something really clinical and they want to have strong relationships with patients and their mindset is totally focused on one type of practice setting and that that's the only type of practice setting that they're able to achieve that in and there's just a such an array of opportunities out there that I think people don't get a lot of exposure to so we have opportunities to work within like public and population health there we have a member who's in the C suite at a health system and he's the chief of population health and he's a pharmacist and having him at some of those tables has been amazing for the profession of pharmacy in our state and the business and innovation sectors and thinking about the use of technology and apps and adherence is just a huge opportunity there's just growing in the tech sector opportunities for medication adherence and helping patients with their medications at home and using electronic health records and informatics and medication safety opportunities and things that may not be necessarily like traditionally within the scope of pharmacy practice maybe Nursing has done it previously but maybe pharmacists play a huge role in that sector and could be a great opportunity for to be at that table and would do great things for the profession so it's not just unique to women pharmacist certainly any pharmacist but those are wonderful opportunities for women that provide career flexible career innovation I think build upon the the skill side of women of thinking creatively and thinking broadly and being a collaborator so just a couple of the areas that I thought of yeah it's it's yet another plug for getting involved in professional organizations right you can get exposed to all these different pharmacists who are in innovative roles or can talk to other colleagues that are designing and imagining new roles that we don't even know know of yet so it's great to hear some of the very unique things that you guys have going on in Wisconsin I have heard of a few other individuals in some of some similar positions but yeah while population health or the chief of population health I had not heard of that one before and it's nice to see that that pharmacists are leading the way so thinking back let's say you wanted to talk to younger Sara about what leadership is or give some advice to yourself when you were younger what's one big thing that you would have told yourself in the past yeah so I'd say that it's not just professional success that's something to aspire to so professional successes is awesome but that's not the only thing to aspire to and I would tell my younger self that I have made a wonderful career decision in my life partner I have a wonderful supportive husband last week when I was preparing for this podcast my daughter Emily came and sold Girl Scout cookies at our office and my husband came and picked her up and went to a volunteer meeting at our elementary school and it's really been the best career decision I could have made and so I think when I was younger I was thinking about professional success solely as the dry of where I wanted to be and realizing now that success is broader than that and having some excitement around feeling like I've got to a place where I have a lot of great things happening yeah that's that reminds me of a quote from Sheryl Sandberg in Lean In she said the most important career decision you'll make is who your life partner is and I've talked with other women about this because I feel lucky to have a very supportive husband who without him this wouldn't be possibly I wouldn't have a successful career I don't think so thinking more broadly about what success looks like and that it isn't just limited to what we achieve at work it's you know how how we take care of our important relationships and and bring those into our professional life so I know we wanted to keep this around 30 minutes so wanted to ask just two more questions so weird how do you think women can best help support each other in our profession or in leadership experiences so I saw a great quote the other day I don't know who said it but it was just sort of one of those memes that comes across Facebook it was empowered women empower women so I think the best thing that we can do as women leaders or as women in pharmacy is to help to empower each other and by being empowered we can help empower others so helping to provide opportunities providing props to one another and then also not apologizing for being successful and and having some some leadership skill and not feeling apologetic for that is it's a great thing so feeling that empowering of each other I think is something that we can do for one another yes so putting each other in the spotlight and I know in a past episode I talked with Selena about that as well and saying thank you take you know credit for our leadership accomplishments I think that's something that we might we may do more often is discredit our accomplishments too so we're gonna wrap up here but I know you know being a servant leader likely you've mentored and developed other servant leaders in your role so what's the how do you do it how do you inspire others to serve and give back to their profession in your in your capacity at PSW or even beyond that yeah I'd say just leading by example and trying to also make it fun along the way so people are more likely to to want to be a part of something if it's enjoyable and as part of their work-life integration if you will so that's really what I aspire to do is really just to help show people that it can be a good time and can help build great long lasting lifelong relationships that's wonderful and I am certain that you are inspiring many current and future pharmacists to do great things in our profession well thank you Sara so much for taking some time out to beyond the pharmacy leaders podcast we really appreciate you donating time back through the profession again in a different venue thanks so much for having me it was a pleasure support for this episode comes from the audio book memorizing pharmacology a relaxed approach with over 9,000 sales in the United States United Kingdom and Australia it's the go-to resource to ease the pharmacology challenge available on audible iTunes and amazon.com in print ebook and audiobook thank you for listening to the pharmacy leaders podcast with your host Tony Guerra be sure to share the show with a hashtag hash pharmacy leaders