2020 KCHP Presidential Address - Katherine A. Miller, PharmD, MHA, FASHP

Profile photo of Katherine Miller

Hello KCHP and MSHP members, colleagues, past presidents, and friends. Wow. This is not how I expected this day to go! But I have to say our first ever virtual Annual Meeting has been a success so far. I know we don’t have the in-person connections and I know we are missing some of our peers who are busy taking care of the patients of Kansas and Missouri. Getting to spend time with all of you is my favorite part of our Annual Meeting. I’m very proud of what our Education Committees and Boards of Directors have accomplished in the last few short weeks. You’ve heard and seen their names many times already this weekend, so I’ll skip that for now.

For those of you who don’t know me, as I’m still relatively new to Kansas, I’d like to take a minute to share why I got into pharmacy, leadership, and why I have a passion for mentoring. I grew up in Wisconsin and most of my family are Badgers. I decided I needed to be different and became a Minnesota Gopher. It’s basically a K-State KU rivalry but in a Big 10 world.

My godfather, a pharmacist, joked that I was disowned from the family, but I could redeem myself by going to grad school at Wisconsin. At that time, grad school was the furthest from my mind. And then I started spending more time in math and chemistry classes and pharmacy became a bigger potential to me. My godfather passed away unexpectedly just months before I took my PCAT. He never knew that I got into pharmacy school and graduated from his alma mater. At his funeral, his patients came. That is an experience that has stayed with me and drives me to be a better pharmacist.

Fast forward to my residency, when I was dead set on being a peds pharmacist. I finally realized through my leadership training what a mentor-mentee relationship could provide me, and I found myself my first mentor. She, after months of coaching, convinced me that a leadership path was the way for me, and I have never looked back. It is through that mentor, developing a network, and finding good leaders to work for that I credit all my development and success. This drives my passion for mentoring, for developing our residents, and for driving the profession forward.

My career has taken me across the country, to Portland, OR, Minneapolis, and Chicago prior to finding my current home in Kansas. I’m a month away from having Kansas City be my longest-lasting home since high school and I’m planning to keep it that way.

As with all incoming presidents, I took some time to reflect on the words of those who held this honor before me. I read the presidential addresses and plans of the leaders I have had the pleasure of working with in my 3 years on the board and 4 years in the state.

Jeff Little is a big reason why I am here today. Less than a year into my role, Jeff, aka the “Master Drafter” (I think some of you may be victims of Jeff as well) drafted me into the position of Director of Governmental Affairs. In Jeff Little’s presidential speech, he reminded us why we are all here, spending our day off with each other, learning about pharmacy and supporting the growth of the profession. Jeff and his Board gave us our current mission and vision statements.

Willy Cadoret came next, and let’s be honest, Willy just makes everything up as he goes. So he didn’t have a speech to share. But in all honesty, Willy had the opportunity and challenge of converting to a new management company, QABS, and that in and of itself was a huge accomplishment.

Lindsay Massey taught us how to bake and become chefs in the kitchen that is KCHP. I have learned so much from Lindsay over the past several years and I am so grateful to have her support as I move forward. Lindsay worked with the Board to develop a 3-year strategic plan that we continue to update and adapt as our world changes.

Christina Crowley transitioned us to scuba diving, and helped us realize that pharmacy is complex, high risk, and although it seems like an individual event, it truly relies on a team effort. I’m so proud and excited to work with the team we have created for this year.

Joe Slechta shared his methods on resiliency by coaching his son’s baseball team. He also taught us about coaching and confidence. I met Joe at ASHP Policy Week almost 4 years ago and while I feel like I have only recently built a stronger relationship with him I am so honored to be able to learn from him, and it is so meaningful to share recognition as FASHP with him this year.

I will say, as I sat listening to Joe last year, I was already thinking about how I could apply my personal life and hobbies to this organization, as so many others have done before me. I mean, lets be honest, there was a part of me that was nervous about what the next 3 years would hold, but I figured, heh, I have a year to learn how to do this job, I should start thinking about my speech. (Joking!) Ha! And then it hit me, as I was sitting there thinking about the important things in my life. The answer was in the wind.

Ok, so what am I going to teach you? What am I going to bring to KCHP? I’m going to help us “See the wind.” You see, I met my boyfriend 3 years ago and he is a sailor. As in, he has had a sailboat at Smithville Lake for over 10 years. As in, today, literally at this exact moment I was supposed to be getting on a sailboat in the BVIs for 2 weeks with him and another couple, but Covid19 had other plans. This is where the wind comes in.

Can’t you see the wind?

He said this to me on our first summer sailing together, and I just about kicked him. No! No, I can’t see the wind. You CAN’T see the wind. His response was “just look at it!” I am not kidding this went on for a full year before I realized he wasn’t joking, and I started to see the wind. I’m not going crazy, I promise. I needed a good coach to help me see the wind. For those of you who are not familiar with seeing the wind when sailing, you watch the waves on the water that tell you where the wind is going, I’m not saying you can ACTUALLY see the wind

Being here, today, amidst the windstorm that is Covid 19, I think this resonates even more so. We thought we could see the wind for a minute, and then it shifted. We canceled our in-person meeting and thought May 2 would be a great day for a virtual meeting, and here we are! Leadership in pharmacy and in health care today, more than ever, requires resilience, adaptability, problem solving, positivity, and being able to shift with the wind, whether or not we can see where it’s going

Now, many presidents don’t have the ability to see the future in their strategic planning outcomes before their presidential speech. But I do – I can see the wind – and I am going to take full advantage. Joe and I have been collaborating on a few strategic decisions over the past several months and a NEW

strategic planning session is not going to occur this spring. We already have enough on our plate. What we are going to do is figure out how to accomplish these things we have committed to and accomplish them well. So let me share our big 3 priorities for this year:

1) Membership

a. Todd Schroeder has agreed to take on a new role as Chair of our Membership Committee, with Joe Slechta as the Board Liaison.

b. We have excellent membership in KCHP. But our members only represent a small portion of the pharmacists and pharmacy technicians that live or work in Kansas.

c. We haven’t been able to see the wind that will develop stronger membership. Its time to spend some time studying the wind.

2) Government Affairs

a. Chris Loucks has another year with us and we’re not letting him off the hook.

b. We have made great progress in partnering with KPhA and the BOP to continue to drive pharmacy practice in Kansas.

c. We can see the wind and have a lot of potential to continue to drive partnerships that elevate practice and improve the care of our patients.

3) Resident Conference

a. I am pleased to announce that the KCHP board has voted to host a resident meeting next year. This will be similar to (and could potentially replace) the MPRC event. Our initial focus is on Kansas and Kansas City Metro residents, but we look forward to potential partnerships with MSHP and beyond. Many RPDs across the state have already shared support for this initiative and we feel it’s the right thing to do for Kansas, KCHP, and our pharmacists, residents and members.

Phew! That’s a lot! And I’ve only technically been president for about 4 hours.

I would be remiss if I didn’t spend a minute thanking several people who have impacted my journey to KCHP President.

Thanks to Jim Andrews and the team at QABS, and especially, I want to thank the outgoing board members with whom I have spent the last 2 or 3 years working with and learning from. Christina Crowley, Immediate Past President, Todd Schroeder, District 1 Director, Becky Johnson, Technician Rep. Yes, I left a few out because they aren’t leaving the board, they just got promoted

Thank you to my team at work at The University of Kansas Health System. My boss who invited me to come to Kansas, my peers, my leadership team, and every single pharmacist and technician at TUKHS. You all make me work harder to help us do our jobs better. Especially in today’s world where the wind is really hard to see, and changes quickly!

Thank you to my mentors, my parents, Paul and Mary and my sisters Maggie and Rosie. Thanks to my friends and special thanks to my boyfriend Curt for teaching me to see the wind.

Thank you in advance to all of the Board members I have the pleasure of working with this year. Thanks for putting up with me and thanks for making all the magic happen. I think by the end of the year we will all be able to see the wind together, even if it shifts unpredictably.

Copyright 2019, Kansas Council of Health-System Pharmacy (KCHP)
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