Case Studies in Stability

March 11, 2019

How do full-time pharmacists stay motivated at work and achieve a perfect work-life balance? Here are four pharmacists who are doing just that.

From our March Cover Story

Clarissa Hall, PharmD, is pharmacist-in-charge at Sinks Pharmacy in St. Clair, MO, one of 13 pharmacies. Hall is also a wife, mother of two boys, and owns a virtual franchise. In addition to serving as a regular community pharmacy, her pharmacy compounds for all 13 locations. Hall oversees all activities of the day-to-day function of the store, manages staff, supervises compounding, and fields compounding questions from all 13 locations. She is also involved with hormone consulting, making recommendations to physicians for their mutual patients.

To keep things under control at work, Hall blocks time slots to accomplish certain tasks, completing tasks as soon as assigned rather than procrastinating. Delegating tasks is essential. “There are no bad days, just bad moments,” she says. She praises her coworkers frequently when they have done well, and they are proud to hear they have done a great job. “Create a culture that radiates to your patients,” she says.

Up until a few years ago, Hall would run around like a “crazy woman” trying to get everything done. “Although I was functioning, I was exhausted beyond measure and looking for an alternative to the chaos,” she says. 

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She decided to take control of her life after reading a book called “The Big Leap” by Gay Hendricks. She also learned about blocked time, where every important thing in her life gets scheduled. Hall has time blocked for work, family, and her side job with the franchise. She makes it a priority to schedule date nights with her husband. Within the blocked time slots, Hall does a modified form of bullet journaling.

“It is extremely important for me to start every day with quiet time in reflection, gratitude, and to read something inspirational,” she says. Box breathing-taking slow deep breaths-is also a tactic she employs when things seem overwhelming. “I have learned if I stay calm, it will reflect on those around me.” Spending time on Sunday evenings planning her week and meal prepping has helped manage the hectic weekday schedule.

“Since I am now in control of my time and it doesn’t control me, I don’t feel exhausted and overwhelmed. It is all a mindset and when you are able to set your mind to positive thinking, everything falls into place. I chose to make a change by investing in me and I am forever grateful I did.”

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Patty Taddei-Allen, PharmD, MBA, BCACP, BCGP, is the director of outcomes research at WellDyneRx. In the managed care environment, Taddei-Allen analyzes, interprets, and organizes clinical and financial information. She crafts and delivers WellDyneRx’s clinical value proposition and develops and implements clinical programs for both the PBM and its specialty pharmacy. “The most stressful aspect of my job is the amount of updated clinical information to stay abreast of, in addition to the ever-changing marketplace, to ensure that we are delivering the lowest costs and improved clinical outcomes for our members and our clients.”

Taddei-Allen stays motivated at work because she feels it is an exciting time for pharmacy, with many changes expected in the next 5 to 10 years. Taddei-Allen also credits her work-life balance in helping her manage stress at work. Her supportive spouse is critical to this balance. “We truly work as a team, with both of us taking on household chores or tasks such as taking a child to the doctor.” Because her spouse is a pro at handling bedtime, Taddei-Allen has been able to take adult ballet and jazz dance classes several nights a week. “I’ve been dancing now for 4 years, and it’s been a great way for me to destress from everything,” she says. She is also very involved with her kids’ school, serving on the PTA board and organizing activities for the students.

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Larry Riggi, PharmD, is a pharmacy manager at a Walgreens. Riggi finds it challenging to find a balance between filling prescriptions and performing managerial duties to ensure the team hits all their numbers. To stay motivated at work, Riggi compares his store to other similar-volume stores, trying to be the best. He enjoys passing along praise from management to his team. Riggi has a strong support system of his wife, Megan, and three friends who are all pharmacy managers who bounce stories and ideas off of each other.

Riggi finds time management and a great work/life balance to be critical to keeping stress at bay. Larry and Megan coordinate schedules to have most of their days off together. On those days off, they try to pack a lot of activities in for the kids. “It’s not fair to the kids that we have these odd schedules, so we try to do as much as possible with them,” he says. Knowing that he has days off with family to look forward to helps him get through stretches of longer shifts.

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The Riggi family has season tickets to the Buffalo Sabres, and they go to 10 games a year. They also enjoy spending time together at the zoo and museum. Riggi and his wife schedule date nights when they can, and Riggi also spends time with friends playing XBox. In the summer, Riggi enjoys fresh air and time out on the golf course. “For me, spending time with my kids, my wife, and my family is the best way for me to deal with the stress.”

Riggi thrives on keeping busy and enjoying activities with his family. “I don’t think I’ve had a weekend off to do yard work or watch a football game in at least a few months, and I wouldn’t trade that for anything after seeing the joy on my son’s face when we take him to the zoo or on a train ride. It’s all worth it in the end, working this crazy schedule, to be able to provide and give my children a wonderful life.”

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Laura Dee, PharmD, is a clinical pharmacist at a federally qualified health center in Illinois. Dee finds it very stressful to be “a department of one,” as the only full-time pharmacist across eight clinics. Also, it can be challenging at times to change people’s perceptions of a clinical pharmacist’s scope of practice.

For Dee, it is the patients that keep her motivated and going strong. “No matter how much stress I have at work, my patients are thankful for me and I am thankful for them. No matter what kind of day I am having, these grateful patients help me stay centered, and remind me why I’m a pharmacist.”

Dee credits her Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. schedule with allowing her to have “a life outside of work.” Although she sometimes spends extra time at work with direct patient care, she tries not to take her work home.

“At the end of a work day, I like to come home and recharge,” Dee explains. A self-described introvert, she enjoys reading and volunteering with animal rescue organizations. Fostering for animal rescues-cats in particular-Is a great stress reliever for Dee. “It’s a wonderful feeling to gain an animal’s trust and become so important to them,” she says.

Dee also participates in a bowling league with coworkers and friends. “I’m absolutely terrible at the bowling, but it’s a fun and humbling experience,” she says. “I mean, where’s the fun in being good at everything?”

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