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Editor's Note

Tribute to a Patient Care Pioneer

Fred M. Eckel, RPh, MS; Pharmacy Times Editor-in-Chief
Published Online: Monday, June 15, 2009   [ Request Print ]

After 20 years of leadership under John Gans, the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) has selected a new chief executive officer-designate to replace him in July. What an exciting time to be the new APhA leader, in large measure because of the strong foundation that John Gans created over his 2 decades of service. 

Recognizing all his contributions would take more space than this column allows, but at the heart of his contribution is how he helped to reposition pharmacy from a profession that makes medicine to one that makes medicine work. Under John's leadership, his goal to make pharmacists patient care providers though not completely realized has a strong foundation to achieve further progress. 

We might not all agree on which one of John's contributions is most significant to advance this outcomes-focused role, but let me share my 3. He led the implementation of a new mission statement for APhA, perhaps best reflected in the name change from the American Pharmaceutical Association to the American Pharmacists Association. Behind this mission and name change is the effort to push the profession from a product focus to a patient focus. Creating the opportunity for a pharmacist to administer immunizations in almost every state helped transform the image of the community pharmacy from a place to buy drugs to a place to receive patient care.   

John's effort to make medication therapy management (MTM) the primary responsibility of the pharmacist further reinforces the pharmacist's direct patient care role. What made this MTM effort so effective was his willingness to collaborate with many other organizations. Pharmacy's success, both politically as well as professionally, can only be achieved as we learn to cooperate both across our profession as well as with other professions.   

Churchill, after a major battle during World War II, reflecting on the win said, "This is not the end, nor is it the beginning, but maybe it is the end of the beginning." As American pharmacy looks back on John Gans' many contributions, many will see his 20 years as the end of the beginning of pharmacy's transformation.  

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