‘The Grassroots Pharmacist’: A prescription for impact
Michael Murphy (left) and Nimit Jindal.
Founded in 2020, “The Grassroots Pharmacist” is a blog focused on educating readers how health policy impacts the practice of pharmacy and how pharmacists and student pharmacists can make positive impacts through grassroots advocacy. We want to inspire action among our readers to transform health policy and ensure patient access to quality, affordable health care. Although this is a new adventure for us, we hope that through sharing how we created this blog, we can empower you to be the solution to any problem you find.
Lightning strikes with an idea
During the fall and winter of 2019, the two of us found ourselves on the phone weekly to talk about the presidential primary debates. Our calls often ended up focusing on politics and how frustrated we were that more pharmacists weren’t actively engaged in the political process and the broader health policy discussion. While we both had been engaged in various leadership capacities, it wasn’t until we graduated that we noticed this lack of engagement from pharmacists at large. Outside of a handful of issues directly related to pharmacy, pharmacists were not engaged in the overall policy process.
After discussing this gap, we realized that this was an area where we could make a significant impact. We both are passionate about health policy and the way that it affects the profession of pharmacy. We saw there were some pharmacists who were interested in grassroots advocacy efforts but didn’t know how to get involved. Based on our experience, we knew we could fill in this gap. Recognizing we both had a busy spring, we made plans to further evaluate this in the summer and see if it made sense to start a blog focused on this topic.
Opportunity lies in every crisis
“The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” Both of us were all set to launch the blog this summer. Then, the coronavirus hit, and the world was upended. Overnight, businesses closed, employees across the country were laid off, and the public was questioning the stability of our health care infrastructure. Our politicians started reacting. Huge legislative packages were being passed. Rules were changing almost as quickly as they were being published. Then misinformation started spreading on social media: confusion about these rule changes and how they applied to pharmacy; questions arising about why the pharmacist was not being included in legislative changes.
Although we had planned to pursue our blog in the summer or fall, we realized that in the spring we had to take action. In the midst of all of this chaos, now was our moment to build the foundation of the blog, and to make the case for pharmacist engagement in the overall policy process.
We quickly organized ourselves and reflected on what we hoped to accomplish. We detailed our plans and discussed with mentors. We spent long hours on the phone planning and trying to understand how we could make this work on such an abbreviated timeline. And, in 3 short weeks, we were ready to launch. We developed our first post on legislative action regarding COVID–19 testing in May and argued that while including pharmacists in administering COVID–19 tests is important, policymakers must include a framework for reimbursement as well. Otherwise, well-intentioned policy can have a completely different outcome than expected.
Although we are still in the early days of launching our blog, we are encouraged to see people across the country engaging in the content we are sharing and recognizing the power of their voice. That’s our goal: to help get members of the profession of pharmacy engaged politically and know that they can help to create small moments of positive change. We don’t know if that success will continue, but we are going to keep trying. We can both hear a voice inside ourselves that this could be important and beneficial to pharmacists, students, and patients. We will continue to follow that voice and strive to be the difference we hope to see in the world.
So, whenever you hear that voice, follow it. Because when it is your time to shape the future, you’d better be ready. Take a look at the world around you. In the midst of the chaos and uncertainty are countless opportunities waiting to be seized. This is your moment. Check us out at https://grassrootsrph.com and let us know what you think.
E. Michael Murphy, PharmD, is the Pharmacy Advancement Fellow at The Ohio State University College of Pharmacy, and Nimit Jindal, PharmD, is the ACCP–ASHP–VCU Congressional Healthcare Policy Fellow in Washington, DC. They are the founders of “The Grassroots Pharmacist” blog and served as the 2017–18 and 2018–19 APhA–ASP National Presidents, respectively.