Making excellence a habit
Carsten Holtorf is a third-year PharmD candidate and Emily Stohs is a final-year PharmD candidate at the University of Kansas School of Pharmacy. The authors would like to acknowledge Bradley J. Newell, PharmD, BCACP, BCGP, and Jessica M. Bates, PharmD, BCPS, for their assistance with the article.
Earlier this year, the University of Kansas (KU) School of Pharmacy received the APhA–ASP Chapter Policy and Legislative Award at the APhA Annual Meeting & Exposition. It was an honor to receive this award, and we are excited to share the opportunities we created that led to this recognition.
Pizza with a side of policy
Every year, we make it a priority to involve as many student pharmacists as possible in the APhA–ASP policy development process. To increase engagement, we hosted a Pizza and Policy event in which previous resolutions were discussed and ideas for new resolutions were debated. We had approximately 50 attendees for this event in 2019.
The experience sparked interest in a student ad hoc committee to develop more ideas for resolutions and further involve students in the legislative process. Our committee members generated resolution proposals that were then voted upon by our student membership, which also allowed more non-committee members the opportunity to provide insight and feedback prior to final submission.
Insight into advocacy
The school of pharmacy also hosts an annual advocacy event called Campus Convention, a day-long event where students and pharmacists discuss career paths, as well as advocacy and policy. In spring 2020, KU alumni and current Kansas Insurance Commissioner Vicki Schmidt, BSPharm, served as our policy and advocacy speaker.
A Kansas Pharmacists Association (KPhA) session provided students the opportunity to learn more about advocacy at the state level and ask questions related to current bills in the legislature. Our chapter members received valuable insight about the legislative process and how to advocate for the profession in state government.
Our school is also actively involved in Legislative Day each year. Prior to the event in 2020, our student pharmacists met with a representative from KPhA and learned about 2 bills being presented at the statehouse that would impact pharmacists and pharmacy practice.
Student pharmacists and pharmacists from around the state traveled to Topeka and spent the day meeting legislators, sitting in on House and Senate sessions, and advocating for the profession.
KU student pharmacists had the additional opportunity to debate the proposed bills with legislators. When last held in February 2020, more than 80 student pharmacists attended and participated in these activities.
Policy and health are intertwined
We recommend reaching out to your state’s Board of Pharmacy or pharmacy association to learn ways to be involved. We also encourage reaching out to state legislators directly, whether by scheduling meetings with local politicians or sending letters to state or national representatives about relevant bills impacting pharmacy.
To quote Kansas native Jim Ryun, the first high school athlete to ever break the 4-minute mile, “Motivation is what gets you started, and habit is what keeps you going.” At KU, our student pharmacists are motivated to advocate for patients and our profession, and we know that excellence is a habit. Policy and health care are inextricably intertwined. We stand steadfast in our pursuit for a better tomorrow.