Fitness excellence sets pharmacy apart
The 42nd Medical Group’s pharmacy flight begins a pushup session on Maxwell Air Force Base, Nov. 6. Currently, 90 percent of the Airmen have a score of ‘excellent’ on their standing physical training assessment, and 30 percent of those have a perfect score of ‘100.’ (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Natasha Stannard)
by Airman 1st Class William J. Blankenship
42nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs
11/21/2013 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. - -- On the hour, every hour, the 42nd Medical Group's pharmacy flight gathers in a back room and starts counting, not prescription refills, but repetitions of pushups, sit-ups or pull-ups.
While maintaining the busiest pharmacy in Alabama, the pharmacy cannot afford to not have the energy to support the mission. Filling more than 1,500 prescriptions daily, the staff of Airmen and civilians operate the second busiest pharmacy within Air Education and Training Command, according to pharmacy leadership.
"We are extremely busy, and sometimes it is difficult to get to unit physical training sessions while maintaining the mission here," said Capt. Ryan Shaver, officer in charge of the pharmacy. "We started doing the various exercises to break up the day and take our eyes off of the meds for just a minute. We can't get everybody to exercise every time, because the pharmacy needs to run. If someone misses one hour, we try and make sure that they are covered for the next hour."
The former University of North Carolina track and cross-country runner said that their leadership believes in a culture of working hard together and working toward a goal. They set goal numbers for the various exercises and celebrate the increased accomplishments of the group.
Currently, 90 percent of the Airmen have a score of 'excellent' on their standing physical training assessment, and 30 percent of those have a perfect score of '100.' Shaver expects several others to achieve a perfect score on their next assessment.
"Our fitness levels directly impact our communication and positive work environment," said Maj. Thuy Vo, pharmacy flight commander. "If we all have the same mindset about working out, the 'team' mindset becomes evident, and that team mentality allows us to work more cohesively while in the pharmacy."
Exceptional standards are not limited only to fitness levels. During the medical group's recent inspection, the pharmacy was instrumental in the group receiving a rating of excellent, with the pharmacy earning a perfect score with no findings.
"Before the inspectors got here, we did what we always do to get in the right state of mind -doing pushups," said Vo. "When you exercise, your stress levels go down, you are more creative and your energy levels increase."
"We stress the whole Airman aspect, combining strong mind and strong body," said Shaver. "Fitness levels can affect a career, that's the bottom line."
Shaver, who routinely wins the 42nd Air Base Wing's monthly 5K race, never leaves a wingman behind, pacing his fellow unit members on their annual PT test.
"Captain Shaver pushed me to get the results I needed not only during my test, but daily with PT and working together as one," said Senior Airman Ryan Griffith, pharmacy technician. "I got a 100 on my PT test, and that is a direct reflection of our group working together to accomplish all goals both at PT and in the pharmacy."
Working together is a theme that runs throughout the pharmacy. Whether serving patients by filling their prescriptions or gathering in a back room for a few minutes of exercise, pharmacy leadership stresses teamwork.
"Being fit to fight is not just about you personally," said Master Sgt. Tammy Robinson, pharmacy flight chief. "It is just as important that everyone in the unit is strong as a whole. A fist is stronger than one finger, every time."