One of the questions we're asked most frequently is, Which department is the best to work for, Pharmacy or IT?
The department you work for tends to determine whether your position is titled IT Pharmacist (if your position is in the IT department) or Informatics Pharmacist (if your position is in the Pharmacy).
Having said that, I've seen pharmacists in one organization with the title Informatics Pharmacist and I've seen pharmacists in other organizations with the title IT Pharmacist who have performed identical tasks and have identical responsibilities.
So, the first thing to realize is that each organization is different. The titles and roles of each organization will be highly dependent upon their respective cultures and how each person’s knowledge fits into the overall team’s objectives.
From our interviews, we were able to gather that there is no standardization. There certainly were preferred ways, but even though some of the pharmacists mentioned a preference to be in one department over the other, each came with its own set of pros and cons, which were largely due to the dynamics within each of the organizations. Overall, it would be difficult to assume that what’s best for one organization would be best for another.
With all of this said, it was clear that, at the end of the day, you’re supporting the pharmacy and the applications/technology the pharmacy has in place to be successful. Because of this, most of the pharmacists we interview explained more advantages than disadvantages to being a part of the pharmacy on a day-to-day basis. At the very least, if this position reports within the IT department, all felt it was important to have a dotted line to the pharmacy.
Some felt that having a physical presence in the pharmacy increased their ability to respond to real-time issues. This presence also allowed them to have a better understanding of day-to-day issues before they became major problems. Others felt that being in the pharmacy made it easier for the people in that department — their end-users — to communicate with them. The opinion here is that the easier it is for them to communicate, the more they will communicate, thus leading to a higher likelihood of success.
Another pharmacist we talked with put it this way: “Being able to confirm how something should be done, [having] quick access to formulary, workflows, etc., makes working with the Pharmacy advantageous. But sometimes pharmacy departments lose sight of the big picture on upgrades and implementations that are unique to an IT department. It’s easier to become overwhelmed with workload when in the pharmacy department than in an IT department.”
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