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SCCM Pod-472 Career Crossroads: Taking the LEAD in a New Direction

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Confident, well-rounded leaders can increase the efficiency of their critical care unit, improve the performance of their teams, and ultimately achieve better patient outcomes. Marilyn Bulloch, PharmD, BCPS, FCCM, was joined by Judith Jacobi, PharmD, BCCCP, MCCM, during SCCM’s 2023 Critical Care Congress to discuss how the new Leadership, Empowerment, and Development (LEAD) Committee will engage participants in a variety of didactic and small-group sessions to facilitate their progress as mentors, managers, leaders of trainees, coworkers, critical care teams, volunteers, and future leaders within SCCM.

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Marilyn Bulloch: Hello and welcome to the 2023 Critical Care Congress edition of the Society of Critical Care Medicine Podcast. I’m your host, Marilyn Bulloch. Today, I am pleased to be joined by Judith Jacobi, PharmD, BCCCP, MCCM, to discuss the mission of the SCCM LEAD Program. LEAD stands for Leadership, Empowerment, and Development. Many of you may know Dr. Jacobi. She is an experienced board-certified critical care pharmacist. She’s also the past president of SCCM and is currently the senior consultant for Visante. Many of you may also know Dr. Jacobi was the past president of the American College of Clinical Pharmacists and spent over 40 years at IU Health at the bedside as an ICU pharmacist in a wide variety of different critical care settings. Welcome, Dr. Jacobi. Before we start, do you have any disclosures? 

Judith Jacobi: Obviously I am a consultant with Visante and get paid for work on the pharmacy practice model. Otherwise, I am part of an advisory board for the Pfizer Hospital Products Division, but none of that has any impact on my work on the new LEAD Committee. 

Marilyn Bulloch: As you mentioned before, LEAD is brand-new for SCCM. What’s the reason that SCCM is creating this new product line? 

Judith Jacobi: SCCM has been an absolute leader in clinical training, research training, and a variety of other educational initiatives, but we’ve recognized for many, many years that we have many potential leaders for the organization but, more importantly, potential leaders in their own home setting who need additional support and opportunity to hone some of those skills. This was started actually as a task force in 2019 to begin to set some of the parameters and background for how we could build a knowledge line for SCCM in nonclinical areas. We were pleased to become an official committee starting in 2022, and that’s given us the opportunity to use our multidisciplinary leaders from every group that we have to help develop this new programming line. 

Marilyn Bulloch: When we talk about leadership, and you have probably heard this a million times in your career, everybody, especially the people who are just getting started in their career, one of the first things they want to know is, How’d you get involved? Where did this come from?

Judith Jacobi: Lots of practice along the way. When I joined SCCM, there were just a handful of us and we had the opportunity to serve on many different committees and task forces within SCCM and learn the model, emulate incredible leaders that came before us and obviously contribute to lots of growth and development of critical care pharmacists, but also the role of critical care pharmacist within the organization. In my case, a lot of practice and many, many opportunities that I was privileged to take and continue that growth. I did obviously have other local mentors that I considered to be incredible leaders and learned as much as I could really at every phase of my career. 

Marilyn Bulloch: You really are somebody that we all look up to. With LEAD specifically though, what led to your involvement with that program and task force?

Judith Jacobi: The task force was started with Fred Ognibene, who had been at the NIH and as a past president, and myself and really because of our past leadership experience as well as organizational experience and ability to get things done. He and I helped build the concept along with a small task force of other prior leaders within the organization. Because there is so much need for people to learn the basics from everything that they need to perhaps run a meeting when they’ve not done that before, to being on a much bigger stage of perhaps a department leadership, that there were just a lot of ways we could help fill in those blanks along the way.

Marilyn Bulloch: You talked about that just a little bit, but maybe let’s discuss who you envisioned your audience is for this program. 

Judith Jacobi: We felt that, with SCCM and some of the other professional organizations, there was more attention to the development of fellows and early trainees, but that people who were out in perhaps their first job might need support in ways that they hadn’t been prepared in their training program. So when we started, we thought, Well, we’ll have this early career group and then we’ll focus on the mid-career group who perhaps are considering changes in what they do or how they do it. Then we ought to address the late career group, who might be thinking, Well, what kind of legacy am I going to leave, or am I going to be ready to retire when I want to retire?

That was our starting point, but it’s interesting because it’s really evolved. What we recognized is that people get called upon to do non-clinical/leadership activities really pretty much at any point in their career. So while there are a few things we’ve geared toward people at different points in their career, we realize that life is very fluid and you might need anything at any point. So we’ve really tried to establish our educational components, keeping in mind that sometimes people just need a bit of on-demand assistance.

Marilyn Bulloch: I want to really commend you for the mid-career and even the late career piece because I feel like sometimes those practitioners get left out, with so much focus on the new careers. And we exhaust a lot of our energy on them and they need it, but I think it’s great. What specific activities do you look for offering each one of these groups in the future?

Judith Jacobi: We’ve really tried to capitalize on a lot of different platforms and have had so far a number of volunteers from within the LEAD Committee, as well as from other people we’ve tapped to do microlearning recordings that people can do in the comfort of their own home, targeting less than 15 minutes to hit one very focused topic perhaps in depth. So we’re capturing a growing stable of those topics. We’ve already had several webinars on leadership-focused topics, but really considering where we were in the COVID world, focusing on staff and team support and individual support, burnout type of topics, team support topics. We’re going to continue that focus but use the webinar platform for a variety of other topics. Then hopefully we’ll be rolling here soon as well with podcasts again, to find different ways that we can prepare content that people can use in the way they like to use content. We’re probably going to try and have maybe quarterly themes with a webinar anchoring and some of the other topics and media to enhance that.

Marilyn Bulloch: For anybody who’s listening to this podcast and thinks, Oh, I might like to go see that, you mentioned burnout. I know I was looking this afternoon and noticed one on mentoring. What specifically would you say might be the most interesting to someone who is at that point where they’ve just been given something and they’re just trying to survive at this point?

Judith Jacobi: Again, recognizing that people need a whole continuum of content, the microlearnings in particular, we have the opportunity to really focus on some more basic how-tos or here-are-the-high-point things you really need to consider before you endeavor to take this on. But again, with the webinars, that’s going to allow us to get into much greater depth on a given topic. Then, we have the privilege here at Congress of having a pre-Congress whole-day session that we divided up into team activity, team support, building team-focused areas. Then, we went into some of the nuts and bolts of unit finances, how to build quality improvement into your day-to-day work, how to rate a contract, and what sort of things you might need to think about, tools for individuals who at some point are going to be confronted by those types of activities to really enhance, obviously training for that leadership of others but also direction of yourself. 

Marilyn Bulloch: I was listening to you talk about the different areas that you covered in this pre-Congress session. And I’m like, we don’t learn any of that in school. Like you, I’ve also been involved with medical trainees and I know nurses probably don’t as well. So if you train these clinicians to do really good healthcare, but so many other aspects of their job, they’re almost just left to sink or swim. It sounds like that’s kind of where you’re going. You mentioned earlier that a lot of your content is microlearning, which, to be fair, that’s how people are learning these days, they have a spare 15 minutes. But one of the things I think we have learned, especially at this Congress, is people are so happy to be back together again and to see one another. Are there any plans for any other live get-togethers or live educational settings? 

Judith Jacobi: One of our big challenges and true of everyone who does adult education is, how can we make this more interactive? We’ve already started planning with the assumption that we’ll have a session of some sort next year in terms of how can we incorporate more of the interactive training, role playing, simulation, that type of thing. But honestly, one of the big platforms we used in the pre-Congress session this year was with the networking tables. Although we had envisioned that there would be opportunity for people to flow around from one topic leader to another, it became very self-directed and interactive, and people just addressed questions to their group that they all either needed some support on, affirmation on, querying, or mentors. What we’re really hoping to do is help establish some of that networking and mentorship opportunities by giving people a chance to meet others and meet our current leaders. 

Marilyn Bulloch: LEAD had an interesting webinar recently about the end of mentorship as we know it. I know we want to definitely attract our listeners to go view that webinar more in depth, but can you maybe just give us a little spoiler about what that was really focusing on?

Judith Jacobi: We’ve recognized that mentors can occur really in many different ways. You might need a mentor for one particular aspect of your career, so it can be a relatively short-term relationship. I think traditionally we think of a mentor as somebody we’re going to have lifelong and carry with us into the future just to help us map our whole career. That’s still, I think, valid. But again, as people have more immediate needs and changing focus, just being willing to look for somebody who can guide them perhaps in a more specific area rather than their lifelong career and, importantly, that it can be someone from a different background. I value the nursing mentors that I had throughout my career tremendously. But  just that people are willing to not make any assumptions about who’s the ideal mentor or what kind of person they need to be their mentor, just help people think out of the box a little. 

Marilyn Bulloch: That’s great. I know that’s something that we’ve heard a lot about, different mentor models moving on. If any of you haven’t had a chance to go view that webinar, I highly encourage you to do so. Looking back, you’ve had an esteemed career, and I think we would be wrong for not saying that. As you look back on everything that you’ve done, you’ve been president of two national organizations, you’ve helped one of the forefronts for pharmacy post-grad training, you’ve just done so much. But looking back now, if you could think back to Judy when she first started, right out of pharmacy school, everything, had a program like this existed, what do you wish someone would’ve told you and that you could have gotten out of this, knowing everything you know now?

Judith Jacobi: I think it’s interesting because I think leaders can always be trained. In my case, the leadership training started at a very young age, honestly, in Girl Scouts and other high school-related clubs and activities that it’s just kind of nice to learn incrementally along the way. You make mistakes running a meeting badly and hopefully learn from it for the next time. But gosh, it wasn’t until I got into the organizational formal leadership that I got some of the formal training. Here’s how you really should organize an agenda and allocate individual amounts of time and get people prepared to discuss the topics you want them to prepare. So some of that structure I think would’ve come in very handy as I was given the opportunity to do more and more activities like run meetings. Very often that came with peer groups. I have a project in the hospital and I’m pulling in either some of my colleagues or a multiprofessional group and now we’re going to set a plan to do something. People take that for granted because it happens so often. But the more prepared you feel going in to how to do that effectively and make use of everyone’s time, probably the better.

Marilyn Bulloch: You’ve had a lot of experience starting things from the ground up, so I’m not surprised that you’re at the forefront of leading this. It’s still in its infancy, but, before we know it, 10 years will have passed by. What’s your vision, your goal for this program? Where do you want to see it in 10 years? 

Judith Jacobi: I think probably the biggest opportunity is for SCCM, with its multiprofessional model, to give people an opportunity to really learn from the best, practice in a safe space, especially for something that then maybe you have to take home and do for real, and that people don’t consider it as something different from their day-to-day role, that people just have more opportunities to recognize that in many ways we’re leaders every day just with the interactions we have with our teams and families and that there’s always a better way to do things. I am hoping that it becomes as big a learning platform as many of our other practice- and research-related areas. Here at this 2023 Congress, there have been actually many other topics that are in this leadership realm that the LEAD Committee had nothing to do with, but I think we’re really happy that all the participants are getting some exposure to that focus as well.

Marilyn Bulloch: Some of those topics have absolutely been outstanding. If any of you are out there listening and you have a chance to listen to these sessions from the Critical Care Congress, I certainly encourage you to do so. Just a few more questions. One is that you start to think sometimes things change dramatically over the years and sometimes they don’t. What do you think are the challenges that are out there today for the young clinician getting started? How do they differ from maybe when you were getting started versus how are they pretty much the same? 

Judith Jacobi: I think probably the biggest difference is that we have a whole generation of clinicians who were raised that patient care is a team sport, and that wasn’t necessarily the case when I was coming up. I think the advantage is that the team members are hopefully going to seek out that level of work as a group and seek out and have, in some cases, greater respect for the role of their teammates. But I also think, with all due respect to the fact that SCCM focuses on an intensivist-led model, that in our day-to-day, it doesn’t have to be the physician that is leading a group of ducklings. Nurses can lead rounds. Honestly, pharmacists can lead rounds. Any one of our members of the team can. By being able to elevate individuals should do what they do best in any particular setting, I think is only going to enhance the strength of the whole team.

Marilyn Bulloch: That’s such a good point. Yeah, I think my personal view is that critical care medicine and maybe geriatrics, which are not always mutually exclusive from one another, probably handle interprofessional work among the best in medicine. I don’t know, you might disagree with that view, but that’s kind of how it looks to me. 

Judith Jacobi: I consider SCCM one of the leaders going back. Here we’ve celebrated our 50th anniversary recently. You look at the founding documents and that was the structure that they established. So, I think anything we can do to enhance that sense of teamness and support of teams and support of individuals on the teams will help. You mentioned that LEAD is in its infancy. Honestly, I don’t know that there’s been a true big-splash official start, although they hinted at it in the opening session. 

But we’ve been waiting until we have a big library of content. It is going to be a separate program. I don’t know entirely how the economic structure is going to work as yet. Certainly for the pre-Congress session, we recorded that information, but it will be only available, at least initially, to the people who were at the pre-Congress session. Just being part of Congress On Demand, you can’t get that content seamlessly. But we really are continuing to build content. But in the area, for example, of microlearning, we know that there are super-talented people throughout SCCM, especially when it comes to multimedia. So if somebody has an idea for a topic that they would like to record as a volunteer and donate to the library of topics, we would absolutely adore that. Certainly, people can contact me. We want to just open the tent to anybody who wants to participate and help you help your colleagues and help us at the same time. 

Marilyn Bulloch: You answered my next question. When you talk about leaders, they want to be part of it. They want to, not necessarily have a seat at the table, but they want to serve. You talked about, if someone has an idea, they can email you, and I certainly encourage any of the listeners who are there who want to do that. It would be an amazing opportunity. What are other ways volunteers can lend their expertise to this initiative, especially if they’re not a speaker but they want to do something else? 

Judith Jacobi: We already have a pretty big committee and every year, there are committee sign-up opportunities. To get on an SCCM committee, you have to be a little braggadocious, but tell us what you’ve done in an area or why it’s a passion for you when you do your committee sign-up. Just as evidence of the existing committee members and their passion about the topic, if we raise an idea, we’ll have four volunteers from just within our own committee. We recognize that there’s a lot of expertise and maybe even some specialty-specific areas. We have, as I said, a multiprofessional panel, but if there’s something that you and your colleagues feel like you really need and you’ve gone out and helped solve, that for people you work with, recognize that there’s a lot of other people who probably need it as well. Although we’re trying to be generic for the multiprofessional team, if there’s something a pharmacist specifically needs or some role that, really helps you deal with your trainees or residents or students, it’s probably going to apply to other people. That’s why we really want people to come forward and say, Hey, here’s what I need.

Marilyn Bulloch: This sounds like a great opportunity for so many of our members to get involved. We’re almost out of time here today, but before we go, I just want to give you an opportunity to say anything else about LEAD maybe that we didn’t get a chance to discuss today.

Judith Jacobi: I think probably the biggest thing is my kudos to the whole group that has been involved up to this point to help us get to this point. Jarone Lee will be taking over as the chair with Sergio Zanotti as his cochair, and I’ll be sticking with them. We really feel like this is going to be a really important year to help us cement our role as a resource for our membership. I just want to really give my thanks to all the work that they’ve done and our two staff partners, Ariel and Dawn, who have contributed much of their energy and time as well. 

Marilyn Bulloch: Thank you so much for being here. All of our listeners, thank you for listening. If any of you do want to get involved, whether you’re participating or just listening to the content, again, I highly encourage you to do so. This concludes another edition of the Society of Critical Care Medicine podcast. For the Society of Critical Care Medicine podcast, I’m Marilyn Bulloch. Thank you for listening. 

This podcast was recorded during the Society of Critical Care Medicine’s 2023 Critical Care Congress. Access essential education online through Congress Digital. More than 120 sessions are available on an easy-to-use platform. Continuing education credit is also available. Some SCCM members receive complimentary access to Congress Digital. To learn more, visit

Marilyn N. Bulloch, PharmD, BCPS, FCCM, is an associate clinical professor and director of strategic operations at Auburn University Harrison School of Pharmacy and an adjunct associate professor in the Department of Family, Internal and Rural Medicine at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA, and the University of Alabama Birmingham School of Medicine. 

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Knowledge Area: Professional Development and Education