It's been just over six years since I worked in a hospital, and nine since working in a hospital pharmacy department. There are some things that I'm happy to be rid of (office politics, anyone?) but there are a few things that I really miss about that hospital work environment.
- Being part of a multidisciplinary team. One where there is an understanding of each others role in the team, their value and contribution. One where you treat each other as colleagues, regardless of your professional background.
- The ability to ask "what do you think about this..." to any number of readily available colleagues who you trust will provide some sound intellectual input. Not only can this validate your thoughts/give you confidence, but it also illuminates your blindspots. Both are good. Both make you a better professional.
- Learning from observing other people's practice. Other pharmacists, doctors, nurses, allied health. You have so much opportunity within the hospital environment to understand other peoples roles and how they approach clinical decision making and patient care. Observe and appreciate differences. It provides such a deep learning experience if you're open to it.
- Ease of communication. It's pretty easy to get in touch with the people you want to talk with in a hospital. You can often even talk with them face to face. There's a shared clinical record, network drives, staff directory, pagers...so many functional communication channels to take for granted.
- Professional development opportunities. I can't say that I highly valued the concept of line management and annual reviews when I was working within the hospital system, but now that I'm out of it my opinion has changed. Having some guide rails and accountability can provide you with a lot of opportunity for growth and ultimately enable you to produce better work if you're open to it, especially early on in your career.
Now I'm not saying that these things are entirely absent in community-based care settings, but they're a lot harder to come by. Sure, we each have colleagues we can get in touch with to run stuff by, but it requires more effort and your network of peer support is more limited. Professional development rests heavily on the self-direction of the individual. Again, this can be ok when things are going well and you're being challenged, but more difficult if you feel like you're in a rut, having difficulties in your personal life or you're simply not self-reflective. As for communication? Well, it's just bloody hard work. So inefficient. So much time wasted. I mean faxes...do I need to say anything more than that?
I think there's a pretty obvious opportunity to improve on where things are currently. And I don't think I'm being idealistic in saying so.