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2015 Siegel Clinical Acheivement Award Acceptance Remarks


50th Midyear Clinical Meeting
American Society of Health-System Pharmacists
New Orleans, LA

December 7, 2015

Erik Abel, PharmD, BCPS
Care Transformation & Operations Improvement
The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center
Specialty Practice Pharmacist
Cardiothoracic Surgery and Mechanical Circulatory Support
Department of Pharmacy
The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center

Class of 2007

Erik Abel
Erik Abel, PharmD, BCPS

Good evening. Let me first say thank you all for joining us for this event. I feel deeply honored to have even been considered for this award. As I consider that past awardees, I feel blessed not only know many of the them personally, but also to have benefited from their mentoring myself. Their aspirations and leadership have served as a foundation for so many - not only pharmacy colleagues, students and residents at OSU, but across the disciplines and across the world.

Having not given such a speech before, I spent extra time researching the makings of accepting such an award. Bob (Weber) kindly gave me some direction. Among many inspiring authors I follow, some of you may know Jon Gordon and Kevin Kruse, I also came across a few other key items for consideration. In one of Jon Gordon's readings he cited, "A state of gratitude, according to research by the Institute of HeartMath, also improves the heart's rhythmic functioning, which helps us to reduce stress, think more clearly under pressure and heal physically. It's actually physiologically impossible to be stressed and thankful at the same time." I could probably argue against that right now. Furthermore it states ,"When you are grateful, you flood your body and brain with emotions and endorphins that uplift and energize you rather than the stress hormones that drain you". So with that considered, I must say that I am even more greatly humbled, gracious and appreciative to be joining you for this occasion.

Jerry asked me to tell you my story ... quite the slippery slope when you tell that to an already verbose West Virginian who talks somewhat slow. However, I promise to keep it short and sweet so that everyone can continue enjoying their time in New Orleans and perhaps a few hurricanes.

In a recent email I saw that the OSU Department of Surgery had adopted and finally defined what "THE" stood for when delivered before The Ohio State University - it stands for Tradition, Honor, and Excellence. I pondered on this in my preparations and it took me back to residency graduation and the story of Calixto Garcia's fortitude, initiative, and altruism to accept the mission and deliver the message. When looking at the residency program and its legacy I would have to say that Tradition, Honor and Excellence certainly exemplify the graduates of this program. However when considering the past awardees and graduates of this great program, I would argue that tradition is something that was revered, but as tour guide here in New Orleans reminded me that "tradition" often comes with a reluctance to change. When I look at the history behind this program, I see so many people that have been the leaders of change, making huge impacts and influence in the care we provide largely fueled by their passion. What stood out as the difference truly was and is their passion - passion for advancement of care, passion for advancement of the profession, and passion for advancement of multidisciplinary collaboration.

While I have not had the luxury to work directly with Judi Jacobi, Jack Brown, Milap Nahata, Brian Potoski and Don Brophy - their work and leadership have set an example and likely influenced us all at least indirectly. However, my intersections with the OSU's impact began at WVU even before my residency training. At WVU, Mary Stamatakis not only led the nephrology portion of our curriculum, but also began her leadership ascent as an assistant dean tackling the curricular reform for our future practitioners.

Then came the interviews with Jerry, where the questions could come from any angle - quite intimidating as many of you have experienced. Jay Mirtallo, then ushered in my resident orientation with a comprehensive and lengthy lecture on electrolytes and TPN. As I settled into Columbus, I came across a book published by Baxter that may well have been the TPN bible - written by Jay Mirtallo. I was amazed at how he had seemingly permeated all things nutrition well beyond the walls of Ohio State. Crystal Tubbs helped guide me along the growing pains of understanding what it was to be a practicing pharmacist during my PGY-1 year and all of the hurdles that come with prioritization, time management and so much more. At that same time I had the fortune (she may say her misfortune) of trying to learn/absorb as much ID as possible from my very dear friend, Karri Bauer, each day. Karri even let me tag along to some ID CE events - one stands out where Debbie Goff inquired about my exotic accent that sounded of a place recently visited in Eastern Europe. . . I don't think she felt the same when I told her it certainly was from a place east of Columbus - known as West Virginia. I continue to admire Karri's determination and effectiveness to lead the undying battle in microbial warfare within the healthcare.

I also had the luxury of learning from Tony, who aside from his photographic memory, impressed upon me how far our role as clinical teachers truly can go - you could often hear it from the other end of the SICU. But truly what Tony brought was the classroom to the bedside to advance evidence-based practice ..with the twist of practicality. Since then I myself have aimed strive implement such effective clinical teaching in the ways that that Tony employed. However, I am truly indebted to Joe Dasta, who many of us refer to as the Godfather because of his role in development of Critical Care Pharmacy. A fellow West Virginian, Joe has had several direct and indirect impacts on my own career. Some of this impact was the hard skills - the clinical knowledge, but so much more so in the soft skills - life skills, networking, how to approach things, and how to develop oneself. Some of these lessons have progressed through his former fellows that serve as my mentors even still today, namely Bob Weber and, my work mom, Sandy Kane-Gill.

Just shy of eight years ago when I was pondering my next career steps, I was sitting across from Sandy when she delivered one of the greatest and lasting bits of feedback that I have received. She told me "Erik...one of your biggest strengths is your passion for what you do, but Erik, the thing that could get you in the most trouble in your career is your passion for what you do!" She stressed the need to find balance in my delivery and my approach.

As many of you do, I lean on my parents and brothers for guidance - blood runs thicker than water, and this is not unique to Appalachia. However, beyond the teachings and direction of our parents, grandparents, sisters and brothers, each of us here today have can likely identify some of the influencers in our lives that have served as beacons guiding our paths to where we have arrived today. Sometimes, we have to fortune to pick our beacons, whereas other times, those beacons find us. I have had the good fortune to have had both in my life and I would like to recognize some of them tonight Sandy Kane-Gill, Bob Weber, Danielle Blais, Amy Seybert, Trisha Jordan, Ravi Tripathi, and more recently Susan Moffatt-Bruce - thank you! However, aside from seeing these influential people as your beacons, you have to also be willing to listen to the said and unsaid. In recent changes in my professional career I have done lots of soul-searching...lots of soul-searching...beacon seeking, phone calls to Sandy and discussion with my family. With this I began to hear Sandy's message again, but in a slightly different way - it said "seek balance, but feed your passion."

Tonight, I would like to thank Amgen and the selection committee for supporting Jerry's passion tonight, one of which has been continuing the OSU legacy in Pharmacy Practice. My friends and colleagues - your collaboration and drive are what have made this program what it is today and will be in the future. I would also like to thank my nominee, Eric Wenzler, a friend and one of my former learners, whose own passion and sometimes obstinence reminded me of my own earlier years. Knowing my own path and that someone had fostered me along, I knew how important it is to give back and guide his own passions and determination, which are undeniably going to lead him to great things.

In closing, I will leave you with one final remark. Mark Twain said, "The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why." While I am still seeking the "why", I believe for me it lies between my passion to create positive change and finding a true balance. Tonight I challenge you all to truly find your passion and what it is you need to feed it; find your beacons ...and listen - closely. I have most certainly found the strongest beacon in my life - I married her. She's patient; she keeps me grounded; she tells me all the things I want to hear, and all of those that I should hear. Furthermore, about my passion to create positive change - it could be no better fueled than what she has given me in my 3 year old son and our second due in June. Regarding that gratitude piece I mentioned in the beginning...Lauren, there are no words that can explain the depth of my gratitude.

Thank you all!

Erik Abel