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The In-Between Times: 2012 Weaver Medal of Honor Lecture

On April 25, 2012, Drake University College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences hosted the 14thannual Lawrence C. and Delores M. Weaver Medal of Honor Award Ceremony and Lecture. This year’s recipient was Thomas R. Temple, Executive Vice-President and CEO Emeritus of the Iowa Pharmacy Association. Temple’s lecture, entitled “1971-2011: The In-Between Times,” included memories of his pharmacy career, described defining moments and accomplishments of the profession, and identified leadership virtues necessary for pharmacists to reach their full potential in the new health care paradigm. 

Standing Between: The No-Longer & The Not-Yet

The past forty years in the pharmacy profession have been spent at a crossroads in which leaders and visionaries have strived to shape a future with a new purpose in society. This time spent in-between two eras has created an abundance of challenges, as leaders and professionals began to question their fundamental role in health care and the educational platform on which the next generation of pharmacists was being produced. It was not the best of times nor the worst of times, but, simply, the in-between times. The professional role of pharmacists was evolving from a primary focus on product distribution to one in which pharmacists were accepting larger responsibilities and accountability in medication therapy outcomes and overall patient care.

An appreciation of the history and contributions of past leaders is necessary for continued growth and development of a new pharmacy profession. The original pharmacy mission, “to prepare drug products that are safe, effective, palatable, and stable,” fulfilled the societal need of safe preparation and distribution of drug products. This mission, however, has expanded and evolved to meet the growing needs of health care.

Defining Moments: Shaping the Pharmacy Future

The product distribution era of the pharmacy profession consisted mainly of the fulfillment of one simple task: getting the right drug to the right patient in the right amount at the right time. Independent practice dominated the landscape and new innovations such as computerization were just beginning to emerge.

Leaders of the profession, including Dr. Larry Weaver, had the courage to question the current role of pharmacy in the health care system and challenge colleagues to imagine a new era with a new vision. The profession was becoming isolated, with pharmacists becoming too complacent and distanced from the patient population. These innovators saw a potential for service and a need for significant improvement in medication therapy management.

These challenges led pharmacy to the crossroads on which it stood for several years, as it struggled to adapt to the constantly changing environments and technologies. Incremental changes continued to occur due to the efforts of the visionaries who sought to build consensus on a new mission.

As clinical pharmacy began to rise in popularity, pharmacy leaders came forward with bold initiatives that began to shape the new role of pharmacy in the health care system, including pharmacy technician certification, education programs with a focus on patient counseling, and drug utilization review programs. Schools began to adopt the Doctor of Pharmacy program and strengthen their emphasis on patient interactions. Furthermore, the emergence of the pharmaceutical care movement facilitated the development of patient-centered practices around the country with the growth of residency programs, immunizations, and Medication Therapy Management services. This transition did not happen all at once, but rather because of several incremental steps and leadership initiatives tirelessly promoted by the leaders of the profession. These leaders constantly looked for new opportunities for change and created a momentum for future growth.

Future Directions: Need for Proactive Leadership

To reach this new era, continued efforts are needed to advance the profession in several areas, including addressing problems with quality of medication use, advocating for pharmacy’s relevance and value in health care, changing the current practice models, and developing new payment systems.

Success in shaping the future of the profession will be achieved with the development of six core leadership virtues that have fueled the advancements over the past several decades:

  • Global Perspective
  • Future Orientation
  • Deep Respect for Colleagues
  • Sense of Indebtedness to their Profession
  • Positive, Can-do Attitude
  • Spirit of Cooperation and Collaboration

The transition has not yet been completed, but we are on the doorstep of pharmacy’s golden era, in which professionals will be able to utilize their skills to the greatest degree.

Established due to a generous gift by Lawrence C. and Delores M. Weaver, the Weaver Medal of Honor is considered the highest honor awarded by the college. The late Dr. Weaver was a dedicated Drake alumnus who served as dean emeritus of the University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy and vice president for professional relations with the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association. Described as “man of outreach, engagement and civility, a gentle visionary and the leader to the future,” Weaver exemplified each of the necessary leadership virtues outlined in Temple’s lecture.

Recipients of the Weaver Medal of Honor are selected based on the fulfillment of one of the following criteria:

  1. The individual’s efforts have advanced the education, research or outreach mission of the college for the benefit of human health.
  2. The individual has made a substantial impact on the profession of pharmacy.
  3. The individual has provided to the college significant financial support that has funded strategic change and progress

Thomas R. Temple, the 2012 Weaver Medal of Honor Recipient, fulfills more than one of these criteria. Temple served as executive vice president and CEO of the Iowa Pharmacy Association from 1977 to 2012. His vision made IPA one of the most respected pharmacy associations in the nation and elevated Iowa’s reputation as a progressive pharmacy environment. Though not a Drake alumnus, Temple has served as a mentor for several Drake pharmacy students. His emphasis on collaboration enhanced pharmacy education at Drake and other institutions through the formation of the Iowa Center for Pharmaceutical Care and the Collaborative Education Institute.  He has also invested in the future of the pharmacy profession through the development of opportunities for young pharmacists and students, including the Student Pharmacy Leadership Conference and the Pharmacy Leadership Conference. Currently, Temple is president of Tom Temple Consulting, a private pharmacy and health care consulting business.