One United Voice

Fred M. Eckel, RPh, MS, Pharmacy Times Editor-in-Chief
Published Online: Friday, February 14, 2014
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Our editor-in-chief examines how state-level pharmacy issues and trends can go beyond state borders.

I have always said that pharmacy is local—and so it is with great interest that I took a closer look at what was happening in state pharmacy associations. Here’s what I found people were saying in the states as we strive to give pharmacy 1 united voice on a national level. Are you involved?

1. “Our profession is being redefined in many ways, and our emphasis and role in the health care delivery system as pharmacists and pharmacy technicians is evolving rapidly. This fact alone presents us with tremendous challenges...”

Change is certainly the name of the game, no matter where you practice. Groups need to focus on not just getting us through the change, but trying to advance our role as it occurs. This state association is focused on helping its members prepare for change. Are you part of an organization that is doing that for you?

2. “Successfully advancing our profession through the legislative process requires access to and the ability to influence key legislators and decision makers with monetary campaign contributions. In politics, money talks…”

Making change happen in desirable ways often requires getting involved in politics. You can do that alone, but when you do it with professional colleagues you often have more clout. Are you part of a group that is politically involved on your behalf? Are you contributing time and financial resources, too?

3. “Membership is the lifeblood of any association…and our group is already working hard to identify ways to convince more…pharmacists that they should become members of their state professional association.”

All issues in pharmacy are local, even if they have national implications. The body that focuses attention at the state level is your state pharmacy association. Are you supporting your state pharmacy organization with your membership?

4. “Our state is not alone in advancing provider status for pharmacists. Many states are tackling that same issue, as are our national pharmacy organizations. Leaders in pharmacy are collaborating on developing standards for our profession so that we can speak with 1 united voice aimed at achieving provider status. We need standards that we all can agree on in order to develop an approach for advocacy and our legislative efforts.”

Most pharmacists recognize that obtaining provider status is critical to the advancement of pharmacy. Although this is a professional concern, it will only happen through the political process. Have you focused your political involvement on those activities most critical to achieving our desired future? Our political success as a profession depends on our individual political actions.

5. “The Disease State Management/MTM Task Force is nearing its 10th Anniversary of advocating for the advancement of pharmacist-led patient care services…”

Our profession moves forward when we share our insights and experiences with others to develop new programs. Are you volunteering on committees to help advance your profession? Pharmacy needs to gather its members’ wisdom and insight.

6. “Every organization should have a ‘stop doing’ list. What will be on our list? This is the purpose of our annual planning session. Admittedly, it is easier to start new programs with promise than it is to put a stop to marginally effective ones.”

This insight was part of a state association president’s message as he shared the organization’s commitment to strategic planning. Are you engaged in a strategic planning process for your own practice—or even your own life? As we take on more things, we have to be willing to let go of old, less successful activities. As your professional activities change, what have you stopped doing? As these quotes from 6 different state pharmacy associations reveal, much is happening in pharmacy at the state level. As I’ve attended meetings of the National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations, I’ve learned that association executives are dedicated leaders trying to help their state pharmacists not only survive but thrive. Often they do that without even having the majority of the pharmacists in their state as members.

If that applies to you, consider becoming a member. Some say, “I just don’t have time, so, therefore, I will not join.” My response is that our membership contributes funds to help sustain the organization’s program. So, until you have the time, at least contribute your finances.

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