MPA | Pharmacy News

What's Your Purpose?

Posted on May 15, 2019 in: Member News

Katie Axford, Pharm.D., BCPS, associate professor of pharmacy practice, Ferris State University College of Pharmacy and Mercy Health Saint Mary's
The month of May represents an annual occasion for me to reflect on another academic cycle, the opportunities embraced and commitments made over the previous year. It is also the time when I intentionally strive to check (and reset, if necessary) my perspective on what is good and important in my life. For many of us, life is busy, and in that busyness, we risk losing sight of our purpose.
This Spring semester, I had the opportunity, alongside five of my dedicated colleagues, to teach a leadership and personal development elective for first- and second-year students at Ferris State University College of Pharmacy. We conducted the course in a "book club" format with students and faculty engaging in weekly conversations around topics like motivation, being present, leading change, culture, grit and vulnerability. Through these discussions, the concept of purpose appeared time and again as something that inspires, motivates and brings people together.
MSHP President John Clark has selected "Achieving Patient Care Outcomes" as the Society's theme for 2019. As I struggled to identify a topic for my article this month, I realized that Dr. Clark is really just calling us to come together and re-focus on what brought most of us here in the first place: the opportunity to improve the lives of our patients.
Daniel Pink describes three elements that govern intrinsic human motivation: autonomy, mastery and purpose. "Autonomy and mastery," he says, "are essential. But for proper balance we need a third leg - purpose, which provides a context for its two mates. Autonomous people working toward mastery perform at very high levels. But those who do so in the service of some greater objective can achieve even more. The most deeply motivated people - not to mention those who are most productive and satisfied - hitch their desires to a cause larger than themselves."1
Deeply motivated...productive...and satisfied? Sign me up!
Whether you are working to expand the services that pharmacists are able to provide, or to increase the quality of the work we have been doing for years, I hope your "why" is to achieve better outcomes for your patients. That common goal has the power to unite us as a pharmacy community. It also connects us to the rest of the healthcare team - the prescribers, nurses, therapists, social workers and others - who show up every day with the same purpose. Our patients deserve to be cared for by professionals who are motivated and inspired to do our best, not for the paycheck or the recognition, but because helping them achieve better outcomes gives our own work greater meaning.
  1. Pink DH. Drive: the surprising truth about what motivates us. First paperback edition. New York: Riverhead Books; 2011. 270 p. 

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