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Transforming an Inaugural Address into a Podcast Series


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In this first episode of Truth in Transformation, recorded on May 20th, host Paul Abramowitz, ASHP CEO, talks with ASHP President Tom Johnson about the challenges of writing his inaugural address during rapidly changing times. The ASHP leaders also speak to listeners about how themes from Tom’s inaugural address will be explored during a series of upcoming podcasts.


Tom JohnsonThomas J. Johnson is Assistant Vice President of Hospital Pharmacy at Avera Health, in Sioux Falls, S.D. He has consistently championed advancing optimal patient outcomes through the progressive use of pharmacy staff within healthcare teams.

Tom earned his Pharm.D. from North Dakota State University (NDSU) and completed an ASHP-accredited residency at St. Alexius Medical Center/NDSU in Bismarck, N.D. He has served in multiple roles over his professional career including clinical practice, academia, research, and leadership.

Tom has served ASHP in multiple roles including Treasurer (2016–2019); Board of Directors (2011–2014); Council on Education and Workforce Development; Council on Therapeutics; Committee on Nominations; Task Force on Organizational Structure; Practitioner Recognition Committee; and as a state delegate for many years. Tom is a Past President of the South Dakota Society of Health-System Pharmacists (SDSHP) and 2005 SDSHP Pharmacist of the Year. Currently Tom serves as ASHP President.

ASHP CEO Paul W. AbramowitzPaul W. Abramowitz is the Chief Executive Officer of the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP).

Prior to joining ASHP in September 2011, Dr. Abramowitz worked in hospitals and health-systems for 34 years. He served as Associate Hospital Director for Professional Services and Chief Pharmacy Officer at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, and Professor at the University of Iowa College of Pharmacy. He also held prior positions as Director of Pharmacy and Associate Professor at the Medical College of Virginia and the University of Minnesota.

Abramowitz received a Bachelors Degree in Chemistry and Biology from Indiana University, a Bachelors Degree in Pharmacy from the University of Toledo, a Pharm.D. from the University of Michigan, and completed his residency at the University of Michigan Medical Center

In addition to serving as Treasurer of ASHP from 2007-10 and as ASHP President in 1993-94, he chaired the Boards of: the ASHP Research and Education Foundation, the Iowa Board of Pharmacy, and the Iowa Statewide Poison Control Center.

Dr. Abramowitz has actively combined practice, teaching, and research throughout his career. He has lectured and published extensively focusing on: the effect that pharmacists have on improving outcomes of care and reducing costs; developing new care models; reducing adverse drug events; and expanding comprehensive medication management to the ambulatory setting.

He was a recipient of the John W. Webb Lecture Award in 2000 and the Harvey A.K. Whitney Lecture Award in 2009, health-system pharmacy’s highest honor. In 1990, he received the Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Toledo College of Pharmacy, in 2010, the Alumni Distinguished Lifetime Achievement Award from the University of Michigan College of Pharmacy, and in 2013 the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Science from the University of Toledo. In 2015, he was recognized as one of Washington’s Trending Association Leaders by Bisnow.

Currently, Dr. Abramowitz serves on the Boards of the American Nurses Foundation, the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board and the GTMRx Institute. He also is a member of the National Steering Committee for Patient Safety of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement and a Professor-Emeritus at the University of Iowa.

The information presented during the podcast reflects solely the opinions of the presenter. The information and materials are not, and are not intended as, a comprehensive source of drug information on this topic. The contents of the podcast have not been reviewed by ASHP, and should neither be interpreted as the official policies of ASHP, nor an endorsement of any product(s), nor should they be considered as a substitute for the professional judgment of the pharmacist or physician.

Paul: Thank you for joining us for the first episode of Truth in Transformation.

My name is Paul Abramowitz, the CEO of ASHP, and I will be your host.

With me today is incoming ASHP President Tom Johnson.

So Tom, I know today was the day you were scheduled to deliver your inaugural address at the ASHP Summer Meetings.

I was once an ASHP President myself, and I can tell you that giving the inaugural address is one of the things I most looked forward to in the lead up to taking on the office of ASHP President.

We at ASHP didn’t want this opportunity to pass us by, so today we’re kicking off a series of podcasts that will explore themes from your inaugural address.

Tom: First of all, thank you Paul, for working with me to do something different this year. From the start, I wanted to do something unique. But I really didn’t expect that we would end up here.

As we discussed options for how to deliver the inaugural address, I felt like asking people to watch a video of me reading my inaugural address wasn’t the right approach.

The ASHP Official Podcasts already have a great following and helps us reach a lot of members. I’m glad it worked for the two of us to meet up virtually and do this.

Paul: I greatly appreciate the chance to do this as well. It gives us a chance to discuss issues important to you, to me, and to the profession in a more informal environment.

Tom: I agree. For anyone that knows me well at all, they know I’m very informal, so breaking down my inaugural address into a series of podcasts just seemed natural.

Paul: Tell us about the topics from your inaugural that you’d like to discuss in this podcast series.

Tom: Transformation has been the theme of my inaugural all along, but I never guessed we—meaning you, me, pharmacists, and the profession — would be at this level of transformation.

During these podcasts, we’re going to look for the truth in transformation.

What does that mean? We’ll be talking about some of the key elements of transformation including servant leadership, self-reflection, different types of transformation, the concept of Transformational Presence, and how you and the staff of ASHP have been supporting and will continue to support members.

And I’d like to talk about some of the things I see as key to ensuring that pharmacy services can help lead the transformation we all need to achieve.

Paul: One of the first significant structural decisions related to COVID-19 that ASHP made was to move the Summer Meetings to a virtual format — including the House of Delegates, educational sessions, and networking events. What was your first thought when you realized that things were going to be a bit different this year?

Tom: I had a lot of initial thoughts and emotions really. I was disappointed we wouldn’t all be together to conduct the business of ASHP and see so many good friends from around the country. And I’ll admit I was personally disappointed that all of the events that occur along with becoming ASHP president were not going to happen. So for a while, I just simply quit working on any inaugural address. I really had no idea what I was going to say at that point—especially with the profession changing so fast in the face of COVID-19.

Paul: I think you weren’t alone in feeling uncertainty in what the future might look like—on a personal level or a professional level—in the early days of the pandemic. What was your inspiration for writing an inaugural with such timely and relevant messages for the pharmacy profession?

Tom: One of the things that I talk about in the inaugural is personal transformation, the idea that you have to stand in your truth. Well, nothing like a pandemic to push you to stand in your truth.

We’ll explore this bit more in a future podcast, but this concept of standing in your truth was key to my personal transformation—to working with, instead of against, barriers to achieve the outcomes we seek.

Once I came to that realization, I overcame my writer’s block, and the idea of looking for the truth in transformation on multiple levels — personally, professionally, and during a pandemic — took hold.

Paul: Well, if that’s any indication of what’s to come, it sounds like we’re going to have some very interesting conversations. Can you highlight a few more of the most impactful points in your inaugural?  

Tom: Sure. First, we’ll talk about servant leadership.  One of the things I have told students and residents for years is that our success as pharmacists is tied to convincing other people to do things they may or may not want to do. I believe you need to approach that with a servant mentality. Then we’ll talk about self-reflection – how to “Stand in your truth” – and I’ll offer some insights into some of the truths I see in our profession. Then we’ll get into the different types of transformation and the concept of transformational presence. And finally we’ll talk about action steps we can all take to transform – how to “Act on your truth.”

Paul: I hope that as we talk through this together, we can help others find and act on the truth in their transformation as well. I encourage everyone to read Tom’s inaugural address, which is published online at

That’s all we have time for today. Thanks Tom for sharing your thoughts and insights about transformation. Join us next time when Tom explores the topic of servant leadership.