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Learning Objectives

After completing this chapter, the reader will be able to

  • State reasons for pharmacist involvement in health system policy development.

  • Describe the health system policy development process.

  • List health system policies that require pharmacy involvement.

  • Identify key features of projects.

  • Determine strategies for effective project design and implementation.

  • Define project management.

  • Describe the principles of project management that are applicable to health system projects involving pharmacy.

  • List skills needed to successfully manage a project.

Key Concepts

  1. Use a standardized and systematic approach to develop pharmacy department and health system policies.

  2. Recognize and use resources including, but not limited to, tertiary resources, primary literature, and colleagues with expertise in the area available to develop the content of policies.

  3. Contact other institutions and make inquiries as to their policies. If a health system is a member of a group purchasing organization (e.g., Novation®), they may have access to policies and procedures that other member organizations have created.

  4. A clear and complete description of a project is necessary prior to initiation of a project.

  5. Successful projects are those in which all members of the team actively participate.

  6. Project management is a discipline or science that is goal oriented, organized, detailed, and has built-in accountability. These characteristics make it an ideal process for use in directing health system projects.


Pharmacists in health systems are often asked to develop policies that not only apply to the pharmacy department, but pertain to other parts of the health system or even the system in its entirety. Given the breadth of knowledge pharmacists possess regarding medication use, they are poised to contribute to development of policies affecting each aspect of the medication use cycle (e.g., prescribing, preparation, administration). They are also asked to participate or lead teams that are tasked with a variety of projects, such as creating a process to meet a new regulatory requirement or implementing new technology (e.g., smart pumps). These tasks are unfamiliar to many pharmacists, especially those without postgraduate residency training or exposure to management or leadership curriculum in pharmacy school. The literature available to help the pharmacist is not plentiful and is often directed toward nursing, information technology, or health information management. Much of what the pharmacist is exposed to in these areas is on the job training often by individuals who may or may not have received appropriate training themselves. The information presented here is derived from the literature and other available resources, and is designed to assist the pharmacist with policy development and projects.

Policy Development

Often pharmacists are charged with projects that result in the creation of a policy. Development and creation of policy and procedure documents for health systems require some training. Most pharmacists are not specifically trained to develop and write policies. However, there are opportunities for ...

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