I was driving home from my interview at Northwestern listening to the radio when the announcer reported that Elvis Presley was dead. I really liked the Memphis, 12 bar blues, million dollar quartet, Sun Records Elvis. But in 1977 the Las Vegas Elvis was definitely not my taste in music. Besides I was still a big fan of the Beatles and the Stones. I was trying to figure out if I should accept a pharmacist position or not if Karen Nordstrom the soon to be the Associate Director of Pharmacy decided to offer a job. Neal Grosshans my classmate at UIC helped me to get an interview. He obviously paved the way as my interviews with Bob Skrocki, Don McDonald, and Gary Hubler were friendly, and brief. Or maybe they knew what was coming? Karen was the type of person who made up her own mind about people. She is one of the best interviewers I have ever met. Of course I didn’t know this at the time and was not really expecting to be put through a most rigorous interview. But right off the bat I liked that about her and decided that I too would make up my own mind about people, and if I had the opportunity I would always conduct a thorough interview.
It was hard to decide, I had a new baby at home, an interesting and clinically oriented job, and Northwestern was really just starting to move in this direction. But all of the pharmacists were knowledgeable and smart, and there was a group that was a lot of fun. Pharmacy leadership seemed to want to push the envelope for pharmacy practice, this was very unusual for the time. All of the technicians were also smart and professional, and I could sense they were really a lot of fun to work with so I decided I would take a chance and accept an offer.
Like right now it was really hard in 1977 to find a hospital job. But ironically Don McDonald and NMH were restructuring pharmacy leadership and this new structure created the pharmacist opening that I was applying for. Pretty soon the tables were turned and it was almost impossible to find a pharmacist!! We wanted to change the way pharmacy was practiced in hospitals. What an exciting time to start your career. Given the shortage of pharmacists, and the intensity of the pharmacy workload the only way we could reach this goal was to have the best pharmacists and technicians working in our department. This was not just a platitude but reality and we worked hard to recruit these people, and many of you reading this are either working here right now, or have worked here in the past. Thirty years later ASHP decided it was time for pharmacy to change its practice model, and called what we have been doing at Northwestern the PPMI.
I was hoping to keep at this for a couple of more years, and there are quite a few things I really want to accomplish before I am finished. Of course I also never expected I would become an assistant director and later a manager, or that time would go by so quickly, that I would be a grandparent at such a young age or that I would be diagnosed with NHL. There are lots of surprises in life! I am so fortunate to be here, to have worked at Northwestern for so many years, and to have worked with such a talented and dedicated group of pharmacists,technicians, physicians and nurses. It has been a privilege for me to work with all of you. I probably hired many of you, and had a say in hiring most of you. You know I never hired anyone who I did not like.
If you have a minute please stop down in the LC this afternoon and join me for cake and goodies. I would hate to eat all of that cake myself. But there are times in healthcare when you gotta do whatever is necessary to get the job done!