At a virtual TEDx event in December, several speakers celebrated the roles pharmacists have played during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic and the importance of the profession in public health.

Speaker Scott Knoer, MS, PharmD, FASHP, CEO of the American Pharmacists Association, said that he sees greatness in the pharmacy field when pharmacists face difficult challenges and plan how to move forward. Knoer said the biggest issue he sees in pharmacy today is payment reform, which he added is inextricably linked to insufficient staffing models and metric requirements that are nearly impossible to meet.

“As a profession, we were asleep at the wheel when the [pharmacy benefit managers] crushed community pharmacy, and now we’re under the gun,” Knoer said.

In response to these challenges, he said clinical services should be built into payment models and the entire pharmacy field should evolve rather than depending on an altruistic business model. He concluded that leaders in the pharmacy field have a great opportunity to use their voices to influence government officials and legislators, lobbying on behalf of pharmacists and demonstrating the value they have provided throughout the pandemic.

Laura Cranston, BS Pharm, outgoing executive director of Pharmacy Quality Alliance, said she has been inspired by the resilience of pharmacists during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This year we continue to have testing of our resilience, testing of our ability to be flexible with our families in this crazy hybrid learning situation so many of us find ourselves in, and we’re testing our ability to drive science and innovation at speeds the likes of which we have never seen before,” Cranston said.

Cranston said it will not be a vaccine that ends the COVID-19 pandemic, but it will be the researchers, health professionals, and front line workers who developed and distribute those vaccines. She concluded that that although pharmacists have continued to show determination throughout the past year, they will have to continue working on their resilience, balancing work and home life, taking care of themselves, and continuing to show up for their patients.

Finally, Pharmacist Moms founder Suzanne Soliman, PharmD, BCMAS, said one of the largest obstacles pharmacists face is a lack of public knowledge about their role in public health. She advocated for using social media to demonstrate the value of pharmacists, especially throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I think that social media can actually help us to expand our role to let people know what pharmacists are doing, who is checking their medications they are in a hospital, what is happening behind the scenes,” Soliman said.

She concluded that advocating for the profession is more essential than ever and encouraged pharmacists to think outside the box in their communities.

“I encourage everyone to ask, you know, what can I do? What can you do for your profession?” Soliman said. “What can you do, whether it’s writing an article in your local paper about what a pharmacist did or, you know, talking about what we can do as pharmacists.”

REFERENCE
Rx & TEDx Tribute Video: Care, Compassion, and Connection. Provided by Pharmacist Moms; accessed January 5, 2020.