Are You Ready to "Be Important"?

by Avery Spunt, ICHP President
February 17, 2009

In my President’s message in the December issue of KeePosted, I discussed Illinois health-system pharmacy’s ties to the University of Michigan College of Pharmacy and the contributions of the late Harvey A.K. Whitney and Donald Francke, who practiced at the University of Michigan Hospital. The teachings and mentoring of Whitney and Francke had an impact on a large number of pharmacists that they trained and inspired. Their impact on the profession is legendary. Fortunately, for Illinois pharmacy two pharmacists who were educated and trained at the University of Michigan College of Pharmacy and the University of Michigan Hospital migrated to Chicago in the mid 70s/early 80s. The two pharmacists were Dr. Richard Hutchinson (Hutch) and Mr. Paul Pierpaoli, who have both made extensive contributions to the profession of pharmacy. The teachings and mentoring these two provided to thousands of students, residents, and staff has major implications in how we practice pharmacy today in Illinois and around the country. I believe the impact of the teachings and mentoring of the large number of pharmacists that Hutch and Mr. Pierpaoli trained and inspired will also become legendary, rivaling that of their mentors.

In this issue I would like to focus on the contributions of Dr. Richard Hutchinson and one of the lessons he taught to so many. In 1974, Dr. Richard Hutchinson was hired to oversee hospital pharmacy services of the University of Illinois Research and Education Hospital (now University of Illinois Medical Center at Chicago) and to also be the Department Head of the newly formed Department of Pharmacy Practice within the University Of Illinois College Of Pharmacy on the Medical Center Campus (now UIC). Hutch previously was the Director of Pharmacy at a teaching Hospital in Buffalo, New York and before that Director at Sinai Hospital in Detroit. When Hutch became the Director of Pharmacy at Illinois, the pharmacy department was an interesting operation. Pharmacists filled orders for large amounts of materials management type products and floor stock medications from an old storeroom in the basement. Pharmacists in the fifth floor pharmacy, which was a non-patient care area, filled patient specific drug orders with three-day supplies and prepared some IVs. In addition, pharmacists on the tenth and eleventh medical floors were working on establishing a decentralized unit dose system at a time when most medications were not commercially available in unit dose packaging. There were no other PharmDs or pharmacy technicians employed by the hospital pharmacy service.

When Hutch assumed command, he was driven to change the culture of pharmacy in the hospital, in the college of pharmacy, and around the country. His philosophy of practice and his plan for change in the hospital and college can be traced back to a 1968 presentation he delivered to the Michigan Council of Hospital Pharmacists Annual Seminar, which was later published in Michigan Pharmacist in December 1968. The title of the presentation was “Let Us be Important”. In this article he challenged pharmacists and pharmacist educators to step up and fulfill their role of being part of the medical team and take care of patients. He was advocating that “We must prepare a pharmacist practitioner who gives true service to society. One who is not afraid of being important - one who takes on patient care responsibility”.

To accomplish this mission, he had a plan that included recruiting residency trained PharmDs from leading programs and have them work in the University Hospital and teach in the college. In addition, the new PharmD hires would train and mentor the staff pharmacists to take on clinical functions to increase the critical mass of practitioners needed. The hospital pharmacy services would become decentralized with satellite pharmacies built in the various clinical areas. Pharmacy services would implement modern unit dose drug delivery systems for all areas of the hospital, upgrade the drug information services, have pharmacists take control of the drug use process, start a clinical residency program, and encourage pharmacists to be important members of the health care team.

The transformation of the hospital pharmacy services and the Department of Pharmacy Practice did not happen over night, and it took a lot of work and effort by many people from both the college and the hospital to make the pharmacy enterprise one of the best in the country. Hutch’s drive and ambition for the profession was infectious and was passed on to many of his students, residents and faculty he recruited. Many individuals took the challenge and were not afraid of becoming important. The number of individuals passing through the university pharmacy experience and having an impact on Illinois pharmacy and the profession of pharmacy is so large that space does not allow acknowledgment of everyone who has emerged from this program as a leader in pharmacy.

However, a few individuals must be mentioned as they are examples of how the vision for pharmacy has been passed. One of these individuals was a very bright student from Decatur, Illinois who completed his Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy and residency at Illinois only to be motivated by Hutch and others to go on to obtain his PharmD degree. Upon completing his additional education and training, he returned to the University of Illinois as a young Assistant Professor. He rose to Hutch’s challenge to “Be Important”. He rose through the academic ranks to full professor. He showed leadership and mentoring skills as Assistant Head of Pharmacy Practice and replaced Hutch as Department Head of Pharmacy Practice on Hutch’s retirement. Dr. Jerry Bauman now is the Dean of UIC College of Pharmacy, and he continues the lineage of excellence in mentoring and promoting the practice of pharmacy to future generations.

Another product of the Illinois residency program was a woman out of New Jersey who was mentored by Hutch. Dr. Jan Engle’s accomplishments include being an excellent clinician, former IPhA president, former APhA president, current chair of Pharmacy Practice and Executive Associate Dean at UIC. Dr. Engle is another Hutch devotee who carries on the tradition of leadership and has inspired many by keeping up the lineage and tradition of excellence.

Another faculty member that came up the ranks and was mentored with Dr. Bauman was Dr. Mary Lee, a bright very hard working individual, recruited to the Illinois program out of the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy to develop drug information services at the hospital and College. Like Dr. Bauman, she progressed in academic rank and was a great teacher and mentor. In addition to her drug information practice, she went on to develop an expertise in Men’s Health. She was recruited away from Illinois to become Associate Dean at Midwestern University Chicago College of Pharmacy and eventually went on to become Dean of that program. Today she is the Vice President of Academic Affairs for Midwestern University and oversees two Colleges of Pharmacy and two Colleges of Health Sciences. Like Dr. Hutchinson, she continues to inspire and motivate current and future pharmacists.

The lineage from Hutch is not just at UIC and Midwestern. You can see his influence amongst the faculty and administration at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and Chicago State University and at scores of other colleges of pharmacy around the country. Many former students and residents trained and inspired by Hutch are Deans, Chairs, and prominent faculty. You also see pharmacists that Hutch has influenced in pharmacy association leadership in ICHP, ASHP, AACP, and NABP. You also see his former students and residents as leaders in industry, community, and retail pharmacy. All of them have answered the call to “Be Important”.

To the current students and new practitioners in Illinois, are you ready to “Be Important”?

News » Pharmacy Education News »