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I'd Like To Get To Know You
by Christopher W. Crank, Incoming Executive Vice President
I am honored to have been chosen to be the next Executive Vice President of the Illinois Council of Health-System Pharmacists. I look forward to working with the ICHP membership to advance excellence in pharmacy. I am an Illinoisan born and raised. I grew up in a small town in north central Illinois called Washburn. (Yes, Chicago members, the Peoria area is north central Illinois; Springfield is central Illinois.) While in junior high and high school I was fortunate to have excellent science teachers. Eric Rittenhouse and Brad Stork were instrumental in my education. They were great at teaching scientific theory. Most importantly, they excelled at teaching practical application of science and made learning science engaging and fun. They opened my eyes to opportunities that existed in the field of science. I truly cannot thank them enough.
My interests in science and pharmacy were a perfect combination. I wanted to work in a science field while being able to help people. I attended the University of Iowa College of Pharmacy where I discovered that I wanted to be a clinical pharmacist involved in direct patient care. I completed an Internal Medicine residency with the St. Louis College of Pharmacy with a practice site of the John Cochran Veterans Hospital. After completing my residency, I stayed on with the St. Louis College of Pharmacy as an Assistant Professor. In 2003, I had the opportunity to join the staff of Rush University Medical Center. I developed my clinical skills, gained leadership experience, pursued scholarly activity, published research, and improved my ability to educate others. While at Rush, I became interested in gaining a better understanding of the healthcare system as a whole. For this reason, I obtained a Master’s of Science degree in Health System Management in 2009. In 2014, I became the Director of Pharmacy Services at Rush Copley Medical Center.
All of the information above describes my background, but not who I am. I would describe my leadership style as diplomatic. I work hard to keep individuals working together toward a common goal. In addition, I am a very social person who likes to get to know the people I am working with. If I was asked to describe myself in a couple of words, I would use the following words: gregarious and determined. If I asked my wife, past students and residents, and colleagues they would add talkative to the list.
My first experience with ICHP was as a presenter at an ICHP meeting. I remember being impressed with the educational offerings and the opportunities to network. I joined ICHP shortly thereafter in 2006. Since that time, I have volunteered with ICHP in many different roles, including as a member of the Government Affairs Division, Director of the Government Affairs Division, a member of the PAC Board of Trustees, and as ICHP Treasurer. Throughout my time with ICHP, I have seen the critical role the organization plays in advocacy, education, and networking opportunities. I have grown professionally because of my involvement with the organization.
When the Executive Vice President (EVP) position opened up, I knew it was an excellent opportunity to make a difference. During the COVID-19 pandemic, I have frequently found myself wondering why there isn’t more recognition of pharmacists and technicians. Why do U.S. senators not know what pharmacists and technicians do for patient care? Why doesn’t the healthcare system utilize pharmacists and technicians to our full potential? I pursued the EVP position because I want to promote the excellent patient care that we provide and work to expand our roles.
One challenge that we are facing in health-system pharmacy that I would like to address is the increasing trend of insurance companies dictating where infusion therapies may be delivered. In an effort to reduce the cost of the infusions, patients are not allowed to use hospital-based infusion centers associated with their providers. While most of us would agree that decreasing cost of care is a reasonable goal, we would not agree that safety should be compromised. When examining cost of the infusions, it is critical to examine what safety measures are in place at the infusion centers. Is the product prepared in a USP 797- and 800-compliant clean room? Is there a pharmacist to double check for high risk drugs? Are smart pumps used to infuse the products? It is my opinion that we need to advocate to key stakeholders that hospital-based infusion centers provide some patient safety advantages that other sites of care do not. It is also important that hospital-based infusion centers adjust their charges to be more in line with true cost of delivering the care.
If there is one thing that I would ask each of you as members of ICHP to do, it would be to get involved. I believe that each member of the organization has something to contribute. One key area to get involved in is advocacy. The Illinois Pharmacy Practice Act is up for renewal in 2023, and the Collaborative Pharmaceutical Task Force continues to meet to address key aspects of pharmacy practice. It is critical that we meet with our legislators so they get a better understanding of what we do and to convey our concerns about proposed legislation. We cannot rely on others to step in for us. It is the responsibility of each pharmacist and technician to advocate for our profession. If we don’t fight for pharmacy, others will not do it for us.
In the end, I hope to serve the members of ICHP well. I will work hard to advocate for positive change for our profession. I will build upon my professional network to help pharmacists and technicians make needed connections. I will ensure ICHP continues to provide excellent educational material. I will strive to keep ICHP strong financially so it may continue to support our members. I look forward to working with all of you. ■