By Joseph L. Fink III, BSPharm, JD, DSc (Hon), FAPhA
It was different times for pharmacists and pharmacy in the 1960s; the name of the medication rarely appeared on the prescription container label unless specifically requested by the prescriber, and pharmacists were not to discuss therapy with patients, deflecting all such questions back to the physician. Patient-centered thinking was just beginning to be adopted by the profession and incorporated into the education and training of pharmacists. It was not until later that the profession embraced, thru adoption of the Code of Ethics for Pharmacists, a statement that the goal of the profession was to assist patients with getting the best outcomes from their therapy.
Also during this era, the role and potential contributions of student pharmacists to APhA and the profession was gaining momentum.
The key players
As noted by Dennis Worthen in his March/April 2003 JAPhA “Heroes of Pharmacy” installment, Dean Linwood F. Tice launched the entire student-focused initiative during his numerous leadership roles with APhA.
Dr. William S. Apple had come to the role of Secretary/Executive Director of APhA during the late 1950s. Worthen’s May/June 2009 “Heroes” column detailed that Apple had been a pharmacy administration faculty member at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, where he had dealt extensively with students. How could he anticipate and therefore channel that student energy?
The final key player in the shift, or transition, was Ronald L. Williams from Ohio, who joined the APhA staff in 1968. He was a constant source of support and inspiration for the 30 years he served on the staff at APhA.
APhA had had a Student Section since the 1950s. But during the late 1960s, the goal became recasting the student subdivision of APhA to be parallel in importance and impact as much as possible to the Academy of Pharmacy Practice and Academy of Pharmaceutical Research. Evidence of progress toward that goal became evident when the drug product selection position was being debated on the floor of the APhA House of Delegates. Students played a very vocal role in effecting that policy change.
Like any successful undertaking, it was a team effort. Officers who led the 1969 shift in the students’ organizational structure within APhA were: Joe Fink, President, Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science; Gary Lawless, President-elect, Drake University; Richard Herrington, Vice President, University of Colorado; Linda LaFontaine, Secretary, Auburn University; and Leonard Edloe, Delegate to the APhA House of Delegates, Howard University.
This student leadership group, along with the overwhelming majority of representatives of APhA Student Chapters around the country, were elated with this development. Having equal standing with the other APhA Academies sent an important message to students all over that they were being groomed to lead the profession into the future. Leaders of other subdivisions of the Association welcomed the students as equal partners, for the benefit of all.
In the interest of full and accurate disclosure, for the vast majority of my term, I was the last Chairman of the Student Section of APhA. It was only toward the end at the 1969 Annual Meeting that the Student Section morphed into the Student American Pharmaceutical Association, which I served as the first President. Later, the subdivision became the APhA Academy of Student Pharmacists.
Positive outcomes of all stripes
Today, there is great importance assigned to gauging results or outcomes. It can be emphasized that the student division of APhA, whatever it has been called at the time, has fostered development of a steady stream of outstanding leaders and visionaries over the years, feeding into local, state, and national leadership roles in professional organizations as well as a wide variety of community service groups.
There is one additional, very positive outcome of this 1969 meeting that has persisted over all these years. If someone were to ask me what was the most outstanding highlight of the 1969 meeting in Montreal, I would have to say it was meeting a beautiful, delightful, engaging, and very bright student pharmacist from The Ohio State University who was willing to change her surname from Malaney to Fink. Due to that very positive development, to this day, I heartily encourage student pharmacists to attend meetings of professional organizations and pay attention to those around them in the sessions.