Editor's Note: Inspiring ASHP Meeting Affirms Pharmacists' Service Role

James C. McAllister III, MS, FASHP
Published Online: Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Mr. McAllister is a health-systems consultant based in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.


More than 6000 pharmacists had the experience of a lifetime at the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists? midyear clinical meeting in Las Vegas. The opening general session that signaled the start of the meeting was the best I have ever attended. The theme adopted for the meeting, ?Ain?t no stopping us now,? was full of hope, optimism, enthusiasm, and joy.

2007 has been an excellent year for our profession with numerous accomplishments, a new level of cooperation and collegiality within the profession, and, most importantly, great promise for the positive evolution of the practice of pharmacy in 2008 and beyond. As I enjoyed the program, it struck me that I was part of a celebration, caught up in the enthusiasm by a sense of collective accomplishment that was quite satisfying and encouraging.

The highlight of the session was a presentation by one of the most remarkable speakers I have ever heard, Dr. Maya Angelou. Her selection as the keynote speaker was a brilliant choice and perfectly aligned with the theme of the meeting and hopefully with a renewed mindset for all pharmacists which will serve us well?a positive, optimistic attitude about serving others. I felt as though I was in my living room with my grandmother?at ease, smiling and laughing, learning from her experience and wisdom, and uplifted by her love of life and caring for others.

Dr. Angelou began her remarks by praising what we do for others and encouraging us to take a little time to take care of ourselves and enjoy the moment. Her speech was sprinkled with advice, encouragement, and short stories full of meaning and valuable insight. The focus of her remarks was based on the book of Genesis and the creation of rainbows for rainy days. Dr. Angelou referred to a 19th-century African-American lyricist who suggested that God put rainbows in the clouds themselves so that there was light even on the darkest of days. She continued by pointing out that all of us were beneficiaries of others, including our parents, our teachers, our predecessors, and friends, who were rainbows for us. She encouraged us to become rainbows for others?the patients we serve, our families, our communities, and each other?as a means to pay forward for those who preceded us. She characterized this task as an onerous but honorable responsibility. I was mesmerized by her message and committed myself to try to be a rainbow ambassador.

I have been so fortunate to have many rainbows from family, friends, and colleagues throughout my life and especially this year. My commentaries often suggest there is more that we should do, and I suppose I am doing it again this month. I want to thank all of you for what you do for each other and those we serve. I can?t possibly convey Dr. Angelou?s message with the same verve, but I would encourage you to revisit her work and consider becoming a rainbow ambassador. Will you?



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