The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) believes that all pharmacists have a professional obligation to serve as leaders in the safe and effective use of medications and encourages pharmacy practitioners, administrators, faculty members, preceptors, and students to advance patient care and strengthen the pharmacy profession by embracing the responsibility to exert leadership in their practices. ASHP urges all pharmacists to accept this responsibility, actively seek the development of leadership skills, and exercise leadership when working with others, including pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, pharmacy students and residents, administrators, other health care professionals, and patients.
ASHP encourages colleges of pharmacy to go beyond management coursework and integrate education on leadership as a practice philosophy throughout the pharmacy curriculum. All pharmacists share the responsibility to mentor pharmacy students, pharmacy residents, other pharmacists, and pharmacy technicians. Pharmacists in formal leadership roles have a specific responsibility to foster the development of leadership skills in pharmacists, facilitate the development of practice models that provide regular opportunities to exercise leadership, and encourage pharmacists to exercise leadership in practice. ASHP also encourages hospital and health-system executives to support the development of leadership skills of all health care professionals.
Leadership in Practice
The ASHP Statement on Professionalism includes leadership as 1 of 10 characteristics of a professional,1 and the ASHP Statement on the Roles and Responsibilities of the Pharmacy Executive explains the formal leadership roles of the pharmacy executive.2 Neither of these documents, however, describes the professional obligation every pharmacist has to serve as a leader in the safe and effective use of medications.
Definitions of leadership commonly focus on working toward goals and exerting influence.3 For example, Nahata4 stated that leadership “is about a vision, direction, strategies, motivating, and inspiring.” The focus on goals and influence guides understanding of the inherent requirement for leadership in pharmacy. The success of current pharmacy practice models and the successful implementation of future models rest on the ability of members of the profession to influence others. In the complex and evolving health care environment, leadership from pharmacists is required to promote and advance the profession and our care for patients. Thus, leadership is not an option—it is a professional obligation.
The ASHP Research and Education Foundation convened a Student and New Practitioner Leadership Task Force that generated a report titled Leadership as a Professional Obligation.5 This 2009 report addressed several issues regarding the current perceptions of leadership in the pharmacy profession, methods for training pharmacy leaders, and the challenges presented by the leadership gap defined by White.6