Reflection on OPA Student Legislation Night

The advocacy event that I chose to attend was the Ohio Pharmacists Association (OPA) Student Legislative Night on February 21st, 2018. This event was designed to give a brief presentation on some of the topics that will be addressed on Student Legislative Day. There were speakers at this event that told their stories of how they came to be in the positions that they are in today. They also shared their insight on where the field of pharmacy is headed in the future. This is a picture of a man consulting his pharmacist. The pharmacist is holding a pill bottle and looks like she is explaining something to the man

I chose to attend this event because I wanted to learn more about some of the topics that are going to be discussed on Student Legislative Day because I am unable to attend that event. I also wanted to gain some insight into new legislation that is being proposed and OPA’s opinion on this legislation. OPA plays a major role in advocating for pharmacists in Ohio. They work to protect pharmacists as well as to advance the field of pharmacy. Therefore, I knew that the legislation that OPA supported would greatly benefit pharmacists.

The first speaker at the event was Cathy Kuhn who is the president of OPA. She talked about her journey to becoming president of OPA. She said that in pharmacy school she was not very involved in legislation. However, after graduation she began to see the benefit of advocating for the field of pharmacy. Cathy taught me that all people can have an impact on legislation and on the field of pharmacy. She described how easy it is to become part of a committee and how to have your voice heard by legislatures. Since going to college, I have not done much advocating for the field of pharmacy. Cathy helped me to understand that that is okay and it is never too late to start advocating. This is a picture of the white house

The next speaker at the event was Megan Marchal who is on the Board of Pharmacy for the state of Ohio. In contrast to Cathy, Megan was very involved in advocacy in pharmacy school. She described to us how her passion for community pharmacy has led her to the position she is in today. She reinforced Cathy’s statement that it is very easy to get involved with committees and that your voice can have an impact on legislation.

The last speaker at the event was Antonio Ciaccia who is a lobbyist for OPA. Antonio said that as students and future pharmacists we are the ones that are going to be changing the field of pharmacy. He told stories about how the testimonies of pharmacists and pharmacy students are what have an impact on legislatures. This statement really had an impact on me because it showed me that my participation in advocacy could have a serious effect on pharmacy.

This event has changed my perspective on advocacy because it showed me that organizations like OPA need students like me to help push legislation through congress. I can have an impact on pharmacy even through simple actions like writing a letter to my legislation showing my support or opposition for a bill. In the future, I hope to become more involved in advocacy for the field of pharmacy so that I can start to see impactful changes on the profession.

This event helped me to gain a greater insight into some of the topics that will be discussed at Student Legislation Day. I also really enjoyed listening to the speakers and their stories on how they obtained the positions that they are in today. They offered good advice on how to become more involved in advocacy and where they believe the profession of pharmacy is heading.

Reflection on the Hot Topic Discussion

This is a picture of a doctor counseling a patient Often times it is very easy to blindly defend your own point of view without stopping to consider the other side of an argument. However, some situations force you to consider the other side of an argument which can expand your understanding of a topic and help you to grow. This is what happened to me during the hot topic discussion presented in class.

When I first entered this discussion I was in support of mandatory counseling. I had done some research on topic and most of the evidence I found supported mandatory counseling. I found it very easy to present evidence that supported my opinion of the topic. I believed that mandatory counseling would decrease medication errors and increase medication adherence. However, as the discussion continued my point of view started to change. I began to see that the issue was not just black and white and was instead very complicated.

Some people in the class brought up points and questions about factors that I had not thought of before. One question that was brought up was what areas of pharmacy would a mandatory counseling law affect? One person brought up how this law may not be plausible for hospital pharmacists because they would have to counsel a patient on every new medication that they are placed on during their stay at the hospital. Other students brought up how mandatory counseling decreases the professional autonomy of pharmacists because they now have to counsel all patients instead of judging which patients are fit for counseling. These were all issues that I had not considered before the discussion.

This is a picture of a woman consulting with a pharmacist. The pharmacist is holding a pill bottle and is talking to the woman. As the discussion continued it became easier for me to see how some people may not be in support of mandatory counseling. I, myself, even began to come up with arguments against my original opinion. I remembered an article that I had read that stated that many pharmacists consider counseling to be a low priority because there is a lack of financial gain. Also many of the pharmacists believed that patients would not be willing to pay for the counseling provided by pharmacists.

Although I became more clear of the other side of the argument, the opinions and thoughts of my peers also strengthened my original opinion of mandatory counseling. My peers pointed out that mandatory counseling could have far reaching affects such as building trust with patients and helping to prevent future opioid epidemics. By the end of the discussion I stood by my original opinion that mandatory counseling should be in effect in Ohio.

This discussion opened my eyes to both sides of the argument over mandatory counseling. I learned that the issue is very complex and if a law was to be passed in Ohio mandating that pharmacists perform counseling to patients, it would have to be very clear and have strict requirements. It was very interesting hearing my peers debate for both sides of the argument. I would recommend doing this activity in the future because it helps you learn how to consider both sides of a debate. The opinions of my peers helped me to better understand the topic of mandatory counseling. It also helped me to learn more about myself and my beliefs. I learned that I should always consider both sides of an argument before coming to a definite decision about which side I am on. 

Should Pharmacists Work in Schools?

This is a picture of a classroom. There is a green chalk board in the picture and desks

When I was in middle school and high school, students had to turn in all of their medications to the school nurse at the beginning of the year. Any time they needed to take their medication they had to go to the nurse’s office to take it. However, as times are changing medications are advancing and school nurses may not have all the training necessary to know how certain medications work and how to dispense them to children. With these factors in mind, an article in Pharmacy Times raises the question if pharmacists should work within schools in order to improve medication dispensing and education for students. 

Students spend a tremendous amount of time in school during the year. The article points out that this time could be used as an educational opportunity for pharmacists. If pharmacists worked in schools they could educate students on the medications that they are taking so that they know how to take the medications properly. They could also teach the students about what their medication is for and what it is doing so that the students understand why it is important to take the medications they are prescribed.

If pharmacists worked in schools they could teach students about drug abuse and other drug related problems such as the opioid epidemic. This crucial education could help prevent students from using illegal drugs and from misusing prescription or over the counter drugs in the future. By incorporating programs such as Generation Rx, which is a medication safety information program, in schools, pharmacists could provide students with the information they need to use medications safely.

The article also points out that pharmacists could educate parents as well as students. Often times parents pick up their child’s medication from the drug store without asking the pharmacist any questions about the prescription. However, having a pharmacist accessible in their child’s school may encourage parents to engage in conversation about their child’s medication. The pharmacist could inform the parent about the medication. Since children spend a majority of their time in school, the pharmacist may notice that a particular medication isn’t working for a child. The pharmacist could make recommendations to the parent about a different course of action of treatment.

This is a picture of an orange pill bottle and white pills are spilling out of it

Pharmacists could also educate fellow staff members, such as teachers, about medication practices and what to do in emergencies, like if a student has allergic reaction. This information could save a students life during an emergency or if there is no access to a nurse or pharmacist. The article also states that “90% of nurses indicated interest in partnering with a pharmacist.” This shows that there is a need for pharmacists in school because nurses may not feel knowledgeable about certain medications. Nurses have recognized that there is a need for a pharmacists in schools to assist them in dispensing medications.

The role of a pharmacist is ever expanding. Pharmacists should be working in schools because many opportunities would be opened up for better and safer medication dispensing. Pharmacists could also provide life saving education to students, staff, and parents. By allowing pharmacists and school nurses to work together schools would become safer and better equipped to deal with medical emergencies.

I chose to read this article because it shows that there is a growing need for pharmacists in all areas of the community. Pharmacists are not limited to counting and dispensing pills in a pharmacy. They can collaborate with other medical professionals and even school teachers in order to improve the lives of all people. I thought this article was very appreciative of the field of pharmacy and showed that pharmacists can work in areas where most people would think pharmacists would have no impact.

What is Pharmacy?

This is a picture of a pills. The pills are a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes This is a picture of a man consulting his pharmacist. The pharmacist is holding a pill bottle and looks like she is explaining something to the man

“Why would you want to count pills all day for the rest of your life?”    

This is something that I hear quite frequently when I tell people that I am going to school to become a pharmacist. People tend to misinterpret the role of pharmacist, and believe that their role is simply to provide patients with their medications. However, the role of a pharmacist is so much more than counting and dispensing pills. Pharmacists play a vital role within the healthcare system.

Pharmacists go to school for 6-8 years in order to gain valuable information about medications, medication interactions, and so much more. This makes pharmacists experts in this topic, therefore, they can assist doctors and other healthcare providers with medication related decisions. Pharmacists work as a team with doctors, nurses, and other health professionals in order to provide the best care possible for patients. I have witnessed this type of interaction in my own personal life when I interned at a hospital a few summers ago. The doctors made countless phone calls to the pharmacists asking them for their advice on which medications to prescribe, what dose to prescribe, and if certain medications will interaction. Through their work pharmacists can make life-saving interventions and prevent many medication errors.

Pharmacists not only play a vital role in assisting doctors, they also interact with patients. Pharmacists are the people that explain to patients what a certain medication does and why they are taking it. Often times, patients are on many medications and they may not know or remember what each medication is for. Pharmacists are there to explain this to patients so that they can take their medications correctly and be aware of what they are for. Pharmacists also educate patients about the importance of taking their medications so that their illnesses do not progress or come back. They teach patients that even if you feel better you shouldn’t stop taking your medication because this could result in negative consequences.

Pharmacists are present in many different kinds of settings. Pharmacists can work in hospitals, in drug stores, in the army, in drug research, in the government, and so many other places. Pharmacists have a great impact on our communities and even on our country. Pharmacists provide many different services and programs that teach people about medication safety or even about how to care for a specific illness. Pharmacists also play a vital role in the discovery of new medications that can be used to cure various diseases. Pharmacists participate in government by taking an active stand on important health issues and assisting policy makers with drug related topics.

The role and importance of a pharmacist is very far-reaching. I am sure that almost every person has interacted with a pharmacist at at least some point in their life. Pharmacists have impacted our world in many ways: from the development of the medications that we take, to the dispensing of our medications, and even in the policies that govern drugs. Their impact is seen in many aspects of health care.

Pharmacists do so much more than count pills. Even if their work is not always directly seen, they are making a huge impact on health care and their interventions have bettered the lives of so many people. Pharmacists are medication experts, helpers, teachers, leaders, and professionals.