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Advocacy Events

I attended NCPA Advocacy Night to prepare for Legislative Day. This event was an exciting evening with great speakers! We were joined by Megan Marchal and Max Peoples, who spoke to us about how they first got involved in advocacy and advice they had for us as students. One of my favorite things about these types of events is that everyone got involved in advocacy for a different reason, and everyone participates in a different way, but in the end we all want the same thing – to see pharmacists allowed to provide better care for patients at the top of their license!

To follow up that great event I attended student legislative day at the Ohio Statehouse. Along with many other student pharmacists from across the state we discussed pharmacy legislation and met with legislators. Every year this is one of my favorite events, and is always inspiring to see so many people that care about our profession and our patients.

After participating in advocacy events I know I am drinking the pharmacy kool-aid, and I hope everyone else is too! Because now we have lots of work to do to push our profession forward and show people that #PharmacistsProvideCare

Hot Topic Debate

This past week during our session we spent some time discussing the new hot topic in pharmacy… Medical Marijuana. After research on previous attempted legislation, current legislation both in our state and others, as well as the science (or at least the little science we have) behind it’s use we discussed the pros and cons to today’s Medical Marijuana debate. Unlike many pieces of pharmacy legislation, the Medical Marijuana issue has gone main stream which completely changes our approach and perception to this issue. In any discussion it is important to understand both sides, especially one as heated and debate like as this has become in our modern society. By taking a step back and really looking at everything there is on the table we got a good look at the actual issue.

In any issue where you have a preconceived notion of you opinion on an issue and can be difficult to try to “take the other side” but not only is that helpful in understanding all of the information presented, it also helps you to strengthen your ideals and opinion. This activity allowed us to not only analyze information on an issue, but also to have professional conversations regarding a topic that people have differing opinions on. I think the “open forum” format of this activity allowed a more thorough discussion of information versus a traditional style debate where people are forced into one side or the other.

Overall this was not only a good activity from the standpoint of helping us to grow in comfort with advocacy efforts, but also to grow as professionals that can communicate on difficult issues even if you disagree.

Safe Drug Disposal – Advocacy in Journals

In the Sept. 2015 issue of Ohio Pharmacist they explored the topic of advocating and educating patients on proper drug disposal in the article “Talk with Your Patients about Drug Disposal”. As pharmacists we are the often referred to as the final line of defense in the medication supply chain. Especially in community pharmacy, we are the last one to talk to a patient before they go home with their medication whether it be Hydrochlorothiazide or Hydrocodone. In this article Steven Schierholt points out some unsettling statistics such as over 9,000 Ohioans have lost their lives since 2002 due to prescription drug abuse and misuse. And most of the medication being misused, abused, and sold is taken from friends and family members’ medicine cabinets. This is a serious public health epidemic that is taking lives of members in our communities all over our state, and the country.

Thanks to advocacy efforts and legislation such as HB 4 we are now able to get lifesaving naloxone to those in need. According to The Ohio Department of Health, The Governor’s Cabinet Opiate Action Team has started many statewide initiatives to help combat the opiate epidemic including an annual investment of $500,000 for naloxone.

Thanks to more conscientious prescribing and increased enrollment in PDMP programs (OARRS), The Ohio Department of Health reports that from 2013 to 2014 the number of opiate prescriptions decreased by more than 40 million doses. This article discusses the importance of safe medication disposal, and how to inform your patients. With resources such as DEA Take-Back Day and Rx Drug Dropbox we are able to provide our patients with accessible and easy medication disposal options. The issue of safe medication use and disposal is imperative to our patients and our community, and it is thanks to advocacy efforts from pharmacists that we have made strides in saving lives in the opioid epidemic.

What is Pharmacy?

What is pharmacy? Well, according to our friends at Merriam-Webster it is:
“1.a store or part of a store in which drugs and medicines are prepared and sold
2.a place in a hospital where drugs and medicines are prepared and given out
3.the practice and profession of preparing drugs and medicines”

Why is it that the profession of pharmacy, which we as pharmacists and student pharmacists hold near and dear to our hearts, is the third listed definition when it comes to the word “pharmacy”. What would the actual standing location of a store front pharmacy be without a pharmacist? And this got my thinking. The profession of pharmacy used to by defined by the dispensing role a pharmacist played, which was so closely tied to the physical location of the pharmacy. But now in our ever changing healthcare system, what do we tie our profession to? Do we link our profession to the storefronts that dispense medications to patients in the community? Or to warehouses that robotically fill medications and mail them to patients’ homes? Or to unit-dose dispensing machines on the floors of hospitals all over the country? Or… do we take a step back from the actual product that has defined our profession for so long. Do we take a step back and allow the knowledge of these medications and how it affects patients’ clinical outcomes to define our profession? The profession of pharmacy has fought for recognition of the education we receive and the value we have on the healthcare team. We have worked hard to be recognized by the other members of the healthcare team, by our patients, and by the general public as health care providers.

So again I ask, what is pharmacy? Pharmacy is one of the most accessible health care professions. Pharmacy is one of the most trusted health care professions. Pharmacy is a profession of medication experts, a profession working to decrease health care cost, a profession promoting improved patient outcomes, and a profession of health care providers.