Ep 3 - Can a retail pharmacist transition to a hospital and bring any value in an informatics pharmacist role?

Dec 2, 2014 12:00:00 AM · by David Kushan

David Stansbury gives his insight in this month’s Healthcare IS podcast. Listen in and hear David’s experience in working as a pharmacist in IT, making transitions and what he’s observed in the last 30 years of his experience.

If you like what you hear or have an opinion of your own, don’t be afraid to leave us a comment below!



Listen to the episode here: Healthcare IS Podcasts

*A full transcription of the show can be found at the end of this post.

Episode highlights:

  • The difference between an I.T. Pharmacist and an Informatics Pharmacist.
  • When a pharmacist attempts to transition into Pharmacy IT and does not succeed.
  • The biggest surprise for most people who get in to this area of Pharmacy..
  • Can a retail pharmacist transition to an Informatics Pharmacist Role?
  • Does familiarity with a particular software or technologies or devices a facility is using matter?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages for an IT Pharmacist working in either the IT department?

You may also like: Healthcare IS Speaks with Jerry Fahrni on Pharmacy IT


Healthcare IS Podcast Episode 3 Transcribed: David Stansbury on Pharmacy IT

David has been a pharmacist for the last 30 years and spent 23 of those years in the IT space in hospital settings and with vendors. Today, Dave works as a pharmacy IT consultant primarily with Siemens clients across the country helping them with implementations with most technologies related to pharmacy and meds process.

1. In your opinion, what is the difference between an I.T. Pharmacist and an Informatics Pharmacist?

The IT pharmacist is more the IT person in the pharmacy who is doing the day-to-day, maintenance, upgrading systems and a bit of interface. The informaticists do the same as the IT pharmacists but are more deeply involved in how systems are integrating with one another and how to use data between systems to help their fellow pharmacists up on the floors or in the main pharmacy to be able to do some different things.

They are a source for getting that data out to the end user as well as to their management team so that the management team can make decisions about price and usage.

2. What originally attracted you to this area of pharmacy?

For me it was back in my days as a hospital pharmacist in Baton Rouge where they were installing a pharmacy system in the late 80’s. I think a lot of the pharmacists were hesitant to jump in and be able to use the system. What ended up happening for me was that I became interested in it and became one of our top end users. So when a pharmacist needs to know how to enter an order they would call me instead of the management team who had actually set up the system because I took the time to learn how to do a lot of the things that others just didn’t know how to do.

3. Was there ever a time when you weren’t sure if this was for you?

Well not really for me. There was a time when I was working with a vendor as one of their implementation people and it was just time to move on out of that position. I always felt that when I left there that I would always be back into the pharmacy informatics piece of it at some point. It took about a year until I went back to work as a staff pharmacist and low and behold the hospital I was working at was implementing a new system and basically earmarked me to do the pharmacy side of the system.

4. When a pharmacist attempts to transition into Pharmacy IT and does not succeed, why do you think that is?

When you come into this side of things you give up some of the clinical aspects of pharmacy. So I think a lot of people coming out of school these days are looking for that clinical job. When you step into the IT part of things some of those hands on clinical aspects gets minimized. People miss that and I think it’s one of those things that can cause people to go back.

5. What one or two things were not as you expected when you first got into this profession?

You’ll be very surprised at the number of your colleagues that don’t get what you’re doing, don’t understand what you’re doing, and don’t care what you’re doing.

6. Can a retail pharmacist transition to a hospital and bring any value in an Informatics Pharmacist Role?  What value “could” they bring?

Usually the informatics positions are found in a hospital type setting and not in the retail environment. What I would see as a struggle is the transition from counseling patients on certain medications into the hospital environment where you all the sudden have a greater variety of medications that aren’t used in the clinical side and you have to learn IT on top of it all.

7. Is an Informatics Pharmacist who is familiar with the software or technologies or devices a facility is using bring more value than an experienced Informatics Pharmacist who is has no specific familiarity with what the facility has in place?

Well in my opinion, I’ve installed three different pharmacy software systems in my life and they all work very similarly. They all have a drug dictionary, room and beds, cart fills and frequency files. It’s just about how you put it all together. For me, when I went to learn the Siemen system it really wasn’t that big of a deal.   I actually had no formal Siemens training for four years before I went to a class for a large scale upgrade.

I think someone who has worked with one particular software can bring some value to a team working with different software when it comes to experiences from their career and can bring a different perspective.

8. What are the advantages and disadvantages for an IT Pharmacist working in either the IT department or the Pharmacy?

As an IT pharmacist working in the IT department you tend to have more access to things like servers and the teams that deal with them to get things done. IT politics tend to be a little different the pharmacy politics and in my experience IT is often on call. Also you are no longer a part of the pharmacy and lose touch with what is happening with medications and staffing.

If you’re the IT pharmacist working in the pharmacy you are typically on the management team or report directly to them. You tend to be more involved in what’s happening and develop your goals to go along with the pharmacy goals.

It’s always been better for me to work within the pharmacy department. There are advantages and disadvantages to both sides and it’s important no matter what to have a liaison person with in the IT department if you are in the pharmacy.

9. Can you think about times or specific situations (particular projects maybe or cultures or circumstances) where it would be better to work in the pharmacy department or the IT department as an IT or Informatics Pharmacist?

Well, the one thing I can think of immediately when we were building a CPOE system. Pharmacy obviously had all the data that we needed to build these different orders and the CPOE system. We provided spreadsheets to the IT department to build everything but quite frankly they weren’t familiar with the drugs and the outline and there were a lot of mistakes made and a lot of rework having to be done.

Let’s say I provided a hundred lines of data. I probably got fifty lines of data back because they just didn’t do one little thing right. If I had built it myself it might not of had so many errors.

Pharmacists tend to be a bit more anal because they have to deal with patients and things along that line, where a data entry person on the IT side is not as concerned with those kinds of things.

Currently I’m actually working in the IT department and I’m the one building all of the orders and the downside I’m finding is that because I am just a consultant I have a hard time getting data out of the pharmacy sometimes.

General, Consulting, Career Planning, Healthcare IS Podcast, Interviews, David Kushan


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