Grace Baek (far right) and the rest of your 2018–19 APhA–ASP National Executive Committee want you to raise your voice!
By Grace Baek
Welcome to the most wonderful time of the year! In addition to the plethora of holidays, the APhA–ASP policy development process is under way. If you are as excited as I am to maintain the momentum after the APhA–ASP Midyear Regional Meetings (MRM), rest assured that there are plenty of opportunities to continue raising your voice.
Engage with your patients
Take a look at your calendar. Over the next few days, you may have penciled in a health fair, a shift at a community pharmacy, or volunteering at a clinic. Through these and many other venues, there are opportunities to maximize your interactions with patients. In discussing chronic disease management with a patient, you may recall a proposed resolution at MRM regarding accessibility of medications and testing supplies. Analyzing a complex patient case with preceptors may spark a debate with colleagues about how to optimize transitions of care and pain management. Some of the most effective statements on record from student pharmacists in support or opposition of resolutions at MRM, the APhA Annual Meeting & Exposition, and Legislative visits have been indelibly linked to patient stories.
Now, take a few minutes to engage your patients: you may change someone’s perspective on pharmacy-led initiatives including medication take-back, antibiotic stewardship, and medication therapy management. At the very least, you will have made a positive impact on how your patients view and experience delivery of health care.
Opportunities for conversation
In the past few years, PBMs and their role in the pharmacy space have become a hot topic of discussion for student pharmacists across the country. Recent legislation in California, Ohio, and Connecticut have reinforced a high level of interest among practitioners and the public as well. Thus, it makes sense that practitioners at institutional and community-based practices, professors, pharmacy managers, pharmacists in managed care and industry, and student pharmacists are all willing to volunteer a take on the issue.
These multi-faceted conversations are often difficult to fully capture in a single written article or lecture. As a result, initiating these face-to-face dialogues to better comprehend the sheer plurality of perspectives is critical to developing your own nuanced
understanding of complex issues.
Phone a friend
One key benefit of participating in APhA meetings is building relationships with student pharmacists from across the country. Even after the meetings have concluded, maintaining these connections is invaluable. Within your chapter or region, lean in to your personal networks to avoid becoming lost in your pharmacy “bubble.”
As you know, pharmacy practice varies from state to state. For instance, student pharmacists in California receive immunization delivery training in their first year, but pharmacy interns in New Hampshire, New York, and New Jersey cannot administer vaccinations. Setting up a phone call or group text thread among fellow students can establish a deeper conversation about policies between meetings and enrich your personalized pharmacy network.
My challenge to you
Perhaps you want to dig deeper into specific issues. Speaking from personal experience, publishing the “Resource Discourse” series discussing pharmacy policy updates on Facebook has stimulated many conversations. More than ever, I can attest that our community of student pharmacists truly care and have actionable, informed ideas to influence health care.
Consider delving into the APhA–ASP Policy and Advocacy site for resources like the Capsule, Legislative Day planning timeline, Off Script podcast series, and recordings of the annual APhA–ASP Webinar Series.
I now challenge you to actively pursue opportunities, Embrace Your Calling, and rise to the pledge you took when reciting the Oath of a Pharmacist: to “apply knowledge, experience, and skills to the best of my ability to assure optimal outcomes for my patients,” “to improve my professional knowledge and competency,” and “to prepare the next generation of pharmacists.”