Embracing Leadership During Professional Transitions

Stacey (Rewitzer) VanSickleStacey (Rewitzer) VanSickle, PharmD

Emergency Department Pharmacist 
LEA Class of 2010

By Justin Anderson, Class of 2012

Today Dr. Rewitzer immerses herself in the work that comes with being an emergency department pharmacist. Each day breathes excitement with new patients, new drug availability challenges, and possible code situations. She completed the Leadership Emphasis Area in 2010. Being only two years out from the emphasis, Stacey has found numerous ways to apply the many lessons leadership studies has provided.

Leadership in Residency

Stacey’s PGY1 residency program at Mercy-Unity offered her unique opportunities to further her leadership development and apply lessons from the LEA. During this time, she (and co-resident Ashley Gray) completed several projects centered on leadership concepts. In one project she and Ashley interviewed a large number of health system managers. One of the findings revealed that most of the managers lacked formal training opportunities in leadership until they were recognized for a specific achievement. Stacey gained perspective through hearing their paths into leadership, and in doing so, recognized her own path as a unique opportunity that others had not experienced. Stacy expressed gratitude for her residency director, Jill Strykowski, stating, “Jill understands what students from the leadership emphasis learn. I was lucky to have someone like her to help me progress.” 
Stacey has made several visits back to campus to help with the delivery of the Leading Change in Pharmacy II course. Here she was able to share with students what residency life was like and explain that the leadership lessons learned are transferable to the residency experience. In particular, Stacey emphasized with students the value of being proactive to ensure that projects succeed. The projects she helped to initiate include a leadership book club, use of the Myers Briggs personality test with pharmacy staff, and creating mission statements. With signature themes of Focus, Discipline and Achiever she excels at creating and executing the plans needed to accomplish her work.

While Stacey was excelling in the work of her projects, she was also identifying opportunities to improve the way leadership topics are introduced in PGY1 residencies. She is particularly interested in the many opportunities to facilitate application of leadership strategies. Additionally, she would argue that there is a need to separate the ideas of management and leadership to ensure that the purely leadership topics receive the proper attention. To learn more about Stacey’s passion for leadership development in residencies, see the letter she recently wrote with Dr. Gray for the American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy (AJHP).1

Post Residency Transition

In the midst of her residency year Stacey was greeted with the opportunity within the emergency department within Mercy. She states that, “you never quite know what the day will bring. It might be really slow or you could be pulled in all directions”. She said that the environment in the ED can be intimidating. Stacey’s advice for students who may shy away from a challenging clinical position is, “you can never know everything, and that is alright. What you truly need is to locate the resources that will help you in the times you have questions”. Stacey has found her own specialized set of clinical resources, but she has found equal or higher value resources in her colleagues that are nurses, physicians, managers, other pharmacists, as well as her mentors.

Currently, Stacey’s schedule in the ED rotates seven days on and seven days off. Overall she enjoys it this way, and she finds that one of the perks is being able to take bigger pieces of time to devote to any projects that she may be working on. Stacey is busy today with working on a new tool, in the form of a “scorecard” that could serve as a metric to measure the value that pharmacists are having in the Mercy emergency department. As pharmacists have not traditionally been in the emergency department, the project will aid in showing upper management what pharmacists are contributing. Additionally, the pharmacy team at Mercy Unity is considering a PGY-2 in emergency medicine. Stacey will be contributing to efforts in that area.

Additionally, Stacey enjoys being able to share her knowledge and advice with APPE/IPPE students. In particular, she finds it rewarding to use her strengths to help students identify learning goals and provide direction in their daily learning activities. Her advice to students is to, “take advantage of the help that is available to you”. To students considering or already in the Leadership Emphasis Area she says, “You may not want to be a positional leader, but the skill set related to leadership can help you in any career.” She also adds, “The things you learn can also be applied outside of pharmacy. You will find many ways to use them!”.

1. Gray A, Rewitzer S. Reflections on pharmacy residents’ journey toward leadership Am J of Health-System Pharmacy. 2012; 69 no. 5: 368-369.