Focusing on Quality over Quantity

As you get further into your career, you may feel more and more affected by perfectionism and outside pressures. One of the biggest traps that we can get caught in is the constant struggle between quantity and quality.

If you’ve found yourself completely focused on quantity, don’t feel bad. It’s no one’s fault, yet we all have to deal with this problem. Hospitals and pharmacies are pushing pharmacists to work faster, fill more prescriptions, and take on more responsibilities than ever. We’re being pushed to meet quotas or stay late to get things done.

With all that pressure, it’s no wonder that we get into a mindset that only considers how much we can get done rather than how well it could be done.

In this blog, we’re going to get right into it and talk about how you can truly focus on quality to take your practice to the next level

Differentiating between perfectionism from professionalism

Creating a healthy boundary between perfectionism and professionalism is key here. There is a certain element of perfectionism in our profession. It is part of how we portray ourselves and our brand. And, honestly, we have to be perfect when we are dispensing prescriptions! 

Even the way we portray ourselves as far as hygiene and personal style is catered to represent the quality and excellence that we want to show. To act professionally in business or your work setting is to carry yourself in a way where you are above-board and strive to achieve the best outcome for your patients.

And that all sounds great – but it can get you dangerously close to perfectionism.

With how much work is out there, it is not sustainable to stay late every day just to have a clear desk. That is perfectionism. Professionalism, in that circumstance, would be to work effectively on as much as you can and work with your team to find a way to improve conditions – all within regular hours.

When you start to mix professionalism with perfectionism, you start to lose. You start losing your free time, your social life, your passion in your career, and much more. So, make sure you are conducting yourself professionally, but that you are not holding yourself to a standard of sheer perfection when it comes to your workload. 

Raising the quality of healthcare at a high-level

No one can argue that quality is not important, especially in the health care industry – we are moving towards value-based care. This means that we don’t want to run every single lab test, but only the ones that are RIGHT for the scenario and patient. The hard part is knowing what to focus our efforts on and which efforts will make a bigger impact on quality. 

Start thinking about the differences between the things that are usually done and the things that should be getting done. 

Quality in healthcare really means providing the care the patient needs when the patient needs it – in an affordable, safe, and effective way. Quality healthcare is also engaging the patient to take ownership of preventative care and in the treatment of their diseases. 

But how can we apply these principles to our day to day? How can we raise our standards of quality without getting bogged down in perfectionism?

In our relationships and encounters with patients, focus on being present instead of thinking about the gazillion things you have to do. 

Pharmacists, take a few extra moments to review your patient’s history to see if their medications are matching up to their needs. You could also check for generic or coupons that could make treatment more affordable for the patient. 

For doctors who are seeing a patient in clinic: try to take the time to have a good conversation. This will help you really get to the root of the problem instead of rushing to see a lot of patients in a day. Not only that, but you’ll also be able to raise the quality of healthcare overall.

Professionally, we need to start focusing on building relationships within our multidisciplinary team by openly discussing ways that we can improve. If you notice that everyone is bogged down and working extra hours, call a meeting about it and come armed with a few possible solutions. If you feel like patients are uncomfortable discussing their medications because the space isn’t private enough, discuss potentially creating a new space for them.

In our personal lives, we need to give ourselves more time to decompress and do the things we love without the pressure of work looming over our heads. Even if you’re not into fitness, find something that gets your body moving! Enjoy a good mix of healthy and fun foods. Spend time with your family and try new activities together. The more we raise the standard of quality for our personal lives, the better we’ll be able to help our patients when we do go back to work.

How students can raise their standards of quality

If you’re a student, your career is entirely focused on building your education. You need to help patients in their greatest time of need so that they can stay healthy. So, every chapter and project that you need to work on should be done with excellence. 

Raise your standards of quality and make sure you have more than enough time and energy to get your work done! It's much better to have quality, focused studying instead of some haphazard marathon session. Plan for it ahead of time so you can succeed.

Raising the bar for pharmacists

In pharmacy, the quality of our work is often measured by how safe and effectively we can get medication to a patient. For many of us, being timely is the biggest takeaway from this goal.

However, make sure you are raising the standard of your practice by taking your time. In the end, it’s better to be right than to rush through things and potentially cause a patient distress.

To get started on raising the bar for your career, make sure you are giving yourself enough time to think about potential medication reactions, double check the number of pills you are dispensing, and consider any other important details thoroughly. This will ensure that you are checking off the ‘quality’ box in addition to getting it done.

Together, we can make our profession grow to even greater levels of success. To make sure we get there, try making small changes that shift the focus from quantity to quality. 

What will you be doing to raise your standards at work and at home?

Joanna Simmon