Today I had the exciting opportunity to participate in the Ohio Pharmacists Association’s Student Legislative Day. It was truly a meaningful experience for me, especially after spending several weeks this semester learning about the legislative process and the importance of advocacy in my pharmacy career. I was excited to see what we had learned about in the classroom being practiced by so many other bright and passionate pharmacy students – it was an infectious atmosphere! We spent the morning learning about the legislative process and current pharmacy issues. Then we had the opportunity to sit down with our legislators and talk about what we as students love most – pharmacy! I was in a large group of fellow students, which was a huge comfort for me as someone who is introverted and still felt lost in the maze that is the world of the Statehouse. We met with the legislative aides of Representative Kristin Boggs and Senator Charleta B. Tavares, and it was so encouraging to see their genuine interest in our profession and their willingness to hear our perspective on current pharmacy issues. I also really appreciated hearing from my peers on how these current pieces of legislation would directly help them to serve their patients better if they are passed. It helped me to better understand how important advocacy is for really advancing our profession forward and, most importantly, allowing us to better serve our patients now and in the future. After today, I am very excited to continue to find ways to stay involved in advocacy during my future career as a pharmacist – especially now that the process has been demystified!
In my Pharmacy Advocacy class last Wednesday, we discussed a very hot topic in pharmacy – medical marijuana and what role Ohio pharmacists should play in the development and possible implementation of legislation around this issue. The discussion activity was lively and interesting, and it helped me to better explain my own opinions around this issue and the reasons for or against pharmacy’s role in its future. This activity also gave me an appreciation for the value of listening to the viewpoints of my peers and mentors when trying to develop my own personal position on any issue, not just medical marijuana. By listening to the insights of those around me, I was challenged to think about the issue from many different angles. This helped me to deepen my own understanding of the issue and gave me a greater sense of the complexities that surround the development of legislation.
In my past experiences of hot topic discussions, people usually align with one side of an issue and then never really budge from that point of view – no matter how weak or strong their opponents’ arguments. While this method of “discussion” can help you to make your opinion on an issue more public, it also weakens your ability to effectively defend your viewpoint in the face of controversy. However, the ability to engage with, and understand, multiple viewpoints surrounding an issue better equips you to face challenges in the future. Looking at an issue from every side can help you to see the strengths and limitations of your argument ahead of time, giving you the opportunity to respond to the weaknesses of your argument more thoughtfully and effectively. This type of open-forum group discussion also helps to power the conversation forward by raising new concerns or thoughts that the group can then address together, perhaps reaching a better resolution more quickly.
I really enjoyed this activity because I got to hear from so many different people on what originally seemed like a fairly straight-forward issue. I feel much better equipped to engage in discussion of this topic in the future, and I truly feel that I have a deeper understanding for the issue overall. I would definitely recommend this activity for students in future years.
In the pharmacy profession, one of the challenges of advocacy is finally putting our hard-won initiatives into practice in an efficient and safe manner. This can be concerning to many pharmacists because they must consider how their action, or inaction, will effect both the healthcare system and their patients’ lives. In the article “Open Letter to Employers of Pharmacists: Listen to Their Concerns,” Ernest Boyd addresses the positive and negative impacts recent legislative changes have had on Ohio’s pharmacists, while also emphasizing the importance of continuing to advocate for our profession on the home front – our work places.
In this article, Ernest Boyd appeals specifically to pharmacist employers. He explains that the current overwhelming concern of most pharmacists is not the actual implementation of new patient services such as MTMs, CMRs, and immunizations, but finding time to add these activities into their current workflow with their limited number of resources. He also highlights the prevailing concern of many pharmacists that their employer’s increasing expectations of meeting specific number goals are interfering with their ability to provide good and safe patient care. As he states, we are a profession “that wants to serve while still maintaining the profitability of our businesses.” I agree that pharmacists can and should be able to offer these exciting new clinical services to patients alongside their traditional dispensing activities. The answer to overcoming these challenges, he explains, is efficient and meaningful dialogue between employers and employees. It is only by working together that we will be able to continue advancing both the pharmacy profession and patient care.
When you think of “pharmacy” – what images come to mind? Most people think of drugs of course, but they also imagine corner-store drug marts with long drive-thru lines and pharmacists rapidly counting pills behind a high counter. Ten or twenty years ago, that would have been a fairly accurate picture of the profession of pharmacy – simply the study of drugs and how to make sure medications get to where they need to go. Today, however, the profession of pharmacy is so much more. Pharmacists have the opportunity to directly impact patient care, answer drug information questions, and ensure that medication therapies are working optimally for individual patients. It is a diverse healthcare field that offers each new pharmacist a means of creating their own pharmacy-related, patient-driven career path. Pharmacy offers me the opportunity to serve individual people every single day and to continually strive to help every person in their own efforts to improve their health and overall quality of life. Pharmacists are still dispensing medications, but they are also reconciling medication regimens, administering vaccinations, and working with other healthcare professionals to make informed decisions about the prescribing of medications to patients. Pharmacy is an exciting field in healthcare, and I am so happy to be a part of it as it continues to grow and expand.
Welcome to my blog about pharmacy advocacy!