Advancing The Profession of Pharmacy

Divide and Conquer: Dispensing vs. Consulting

by | Sep 20, 2015 | Big Picture Ideas, Industry Tips

How do you get really, really good at your job?

You do it over and over and over and you get the picture.  As you repeat a task, you will find that you become more confident in your ability to complete that task.  You become more efficient, you find better ways to do it.  When you are used to filling 150 scripts per pharmacist and suddenly your numbers jump to 250 scripts per day, you figure out a way to make it work.

Adding clinical services to your pharmacy is sort of like that.  But what if you are just not interested in delivering clinical services of any kind?  You find a person who is stronger in that area and you allow them to take the reigns while you focus on growing your own strengths.

It is my job to identify and help correct workflow issues in the pharmacies that I work with.  I help spot “bottle-necked” areas in the workflow and come up with efficient ways to overcome these barriers.  It is challenging at times.

One idea that may help alleviate workflow issues is to have a dispensing “productivity specialist” pharmacist to use their strengths to fill orders quickly and efficiently.  Then to have another clinical “quality specialist” pharmacist to make sure the patients are equipped with the knowledge they need to use their medications safely and effectively.

The dispensing pharmacist and the clinical pharmacist: Divide and Conquer?

Clinical pharmacy can be tedious as well.  You will find that you get asked many of the same questions and most of those questions involve cheaper copays!  As you go through more and more comprehensive medication reviews (CMRs) you become proficient at communicating succinctly and impact-fully.

Can a dispensing pharmacist stop and give a flu shot or complete a comprehensive medication review MTM and keep workflow running smoothly at the same time?  No, but we are asking it of them.

Should the consulting pharmacist be asked to pause a CMR consultation in order to contact a provider over a dosing error on a waiting prescription order, manage an inventory issue or troubleshoot an insurance claim?  No, but we are asking it of them.

It makes more sense to have separate job duties for two totally different job descriptions.

How does this apply to MTM and independent pharmacy consulting?

Think of your dispensing pharmacist as your “productivity specialist” and your consultant pharmacist as your “quality specialist”.  Some personalities work better when kept constantly busy, they thrive on excitement,  and can easily perform many tasks at once.  People with these personalities make for great managers and are amazingly productive with very little resources.

For a consultant pharmacist, more suitable personality traits may be great communication skills, being relatable, handling difficult or angry patients and performing a complex single task for long periods of time.  For a dispensing pharmacist, they may prefer to take on a leadership role and keep workflow running smoothly to prevent problems before they occur.

This is not to say that one specialty of pharmacy is better than another, just that it is ok to identify more with one side or the other.  Some pharmacists hate doing MTM and counselling, but for some people it is their passion.

So why not allow pharmacists to “choose sides”?  Why are we expected to “do it all”?

Because we always have.  It is time for a grassroots movement in pharmacy, and it can only be accomplished by pharmacists.  We have to take a stand for our profession.  We have to advocate for ourselves, protect our profession and guide it in the direction that we feel is best for the advancement of pharmacy.

If we don’t stand up for ourselves, then who will?

If you are interested in starting your own pharmacy consulting services please contact me for a free 30 minute coaching consultation call and join our NEWSLETTER for all of our updated blog posts and news about upcoming courses.

About the Author

Blair Thielemier, PharmD, is a business development consultant specializing in pharmacist-led billing models. She has set the industry standard for virtual pharmacy conferences with the Elevate Pharmacy Virtual Summit in 2017. She has consulted with national pharmacy organizations, drug wholesalers, point of sale companies, and Fortune 5 health insurers. She has books and online courses available for individuals looking to leverage their pharmacy knowledge into monetized clinical programs at She speaks internationally about trends in leveraging pharmacists to improve value-based care.


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