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FarmaKology-Honoring Women Leadership in Pharmacy
According to the 2019 National Pharmacists Workforce Study by American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy, women make up over 65% of the actively practicing pharmacists in the United States. Yet, less than 25% will advance into senior leadership roles. Female practitioners face disparity and challenges. Women pharmacists should lift each other up, advocate their own voices and build alliances.
Female Leadership In Pharmacy: An Interview With Elizabeth Rebo, Executive Director Of Pharmacy Quality And Medication Safety at Kaiser Permanente
Honoring International Women’s Month in March, I have conducted an interview with Elizabeth Rebo, Executive Director of Pharmacy Quality And Medication Safety At Kaiser Permanente Downey.
Elizabeth graduated in 2000 from Clemson University with a Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences. She then attended the University of South Carolina and received her Doctor of Pharmacy in 2004. Upon graduation, Elizabeth worked as a critical care pharmacist at Wake Forest University Baptist Health. In 2006, Elizabeth moved to Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center and served as the investigational drug studies/medication safety clinical pharmacist, until 2009, at which time she became the medication safety coordinator for the Novant Health Winston Salem market. In 2010 Elizabeth moved into a system role as the medication safety manager, with responsibilities over 13 acute care facilities. In 2013 Elizabeth moved to Atlanta, GA and worked until 2019 at WellStar Health System, last serving as the executive director of medication safety. In December 2019 Elizabeth moved to Downey, CA and is currently serving as the executive director of pharmacy quality and medication safety for Kaiser Permanente’s national pharmacy services.
Elizabeth has been actively involved in the ASHP Medication Safety Section Advisory Group, serving as chair in 2016-2017. She’s also served as a Board Member at Large from 2014-2016 with the Atlanta Academy of Institutional Pharmacy.
Gigi: What does "Female Leadership In Pharmacy" mean to you and why is it important.
Elizabeth: I believe female leadership is important in general. Generally speaking, pharmacy as a profession has more women than men, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into leadership positions. I’ve been in a leadership position over 10 years, and until I came to Kaiser Permanente, the top pharmacy leader of the organization (VP, CPO, etc) was male. At Kaiser Permanente, 5 of our 8 regional pharmacy executives are male and on the functional leader side, 4 of the 7 executives are male; we’re pretty evenly split. I personally have not felt that I have been hindered in my growth or opportunities for being female, but I know many women have felt that way, including in pharmacy. I believe it’s important as female leaders for us to support and elevate each other. Working in leadership can be stressful, and we need to support our peers. At my previous organization we had a group just for female leaders (Women in Leadership). The goal was to create an environment to allow for female leader mentoring (more seasoned leaders were mentors), create a safe environment to discuss leadership fundamentals and any identified concerns, and to provide an opportunity to network and build trusting relationships with other females in the organization. I think it would be great to create something similar here in the Kaiser Permanente pharmacy department.
Gigi: How do you define growth.
Elizabeth: In the professional sense, I define growth as gaining work experience and new skills that will allow you to achieve whatever goals you have for yourself. I also view growth as being able to take setbacks and turn them into positives. I saw a quote once that resonates with me: “how you climb up the mountain is just as important as how you get down the mountain. And so it is with life, which for many of us becomes one big gigantic test followed by one big gigantic lesson”. I view growth as how you manage the tests and subsequently translate them into lessons.
Gigi: What is the single most important event or decision in your pharmacist life that leads you to your current position.
Elizabeth: Deciding to take a leap of faith and take the investigational drug studies pharmacist position at Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center. This is where I was exposed to medication safety, and where I found my niche in pharmacy.
Gigi: What message do you have for the young women entering in this profession now.
Elizabeth: There are so many different avenues in pharmacy – I would encourage those entering the profession to seek out what excites you, and figure out what gives you a passion for your work. I personally didn’t have that until I found medication safety. Doing work that you have a passion for not only makes the day more enjoyable, but allows you to give 100%, even in the face of adversity. I would also encourage new pharmacists to find ways to get involved and engaged. There are many ways that you can take on a leadership role without an official title.
Gigi: Thank you very much for sharing with us your experience, Elizabeth. I hope this conversation will shine a light on female practitioners and inspire them to take up leadership roles in pharmacy.