Editor's Note: Are You Empowered or Entitled?

Author: Fred M. Eckel, RPh, MS

Mr. Eckel is a professor and director of the Office of Practice Development and Education at the School of Pharmacy, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; he is also Pharmacy Times Editor-in-Chief.

I recently attended a conference for presidents-elect and executive directors of state pharmacy associations, conducted by the National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations—a great networking opportunity for those who will be leading these associations in your state in 2010.

Every state is facing similar challenges, including growing membership. In many state pharmacy associations, membership represents about 45% of income; if more pharmacists were members, more services could be provided. What a shame that in only a very few state pharmacy associations, member- ship represents more than 50% of the state pharmacists. Yet, their efforts benefit all licensed pharmacists. As more pharmacists become employees who think that their employer is watching out for their welfare, have they decided not to be a member of their state association? Perhaps employers did look out for both the employees’ and the profession’s interests when finances were strong. Today, however, practices to attract business seem to be the order of the day. Free antibiotics, $4 generics, or coupons to transfer prescriptions are examples. 

Many state associations have been around for more than 100 years. What do you think would be the state of pharmacy today if they had not existed? As we engage in health care reform, do you think we can accomplish more without strong pharmacy organizations?

Too many pharmacists feel that they are entitled to what they have rather than empowered to achieve what they desire. Rather than seeing state associations as a tool to become empowered through the information obtained and networking connections made, they see dues as an unnecessary expense. As the professional organizations try to (1) change the practice model, (2) create new revenue streams for cognitive services, or (3) prevent external forces from changing current practices, they need both creative ideas and financial resources. Are you a member of your state association, or are you one of the “entitled” pharmacists who are letting others advance and protect the profession for you?