Advancing as One

When we each adopt the theme that we advance as one and feel empowered to make a difference, pharmacists will be able to take their rightful place on the health care team.

I enjoy attending pharmacy association meetings. The American Pharmacists Association (APhA) annual meeting has become my favorite because all components of pharmacy are involved. Discussion often includes broad perspectives on important issues because pharmacists from different practice settings are present. The student pharmacist presence, especially, adds energy, excitement, and focus.

I attended my first APhA meeting in Washington, DC, in 1960 when I was a junior in pharmacy school. (Yes, I graduated with a BS degree from a 4-year curriculum.) I have missed some annual meetings, but have probably attended 45 overall. In my early professional years, many other pharmacy organizations held their meetings concurrent with the APhA, so I went even when I was active in pharmacy education and during my hospital pharmacy practice. Now that those organizations hold separate annual meetings, attending the APhA meeting is a choice I make because I support its efforts to advance the profession.

I have been a delegate to the APhA House of Delegates for many years, too. Although trying to improve the wording of an action from the floor can become tedious, I enjoy participating in the policy-making process, from the Delegate Caucus to the Reference Committee hearings and the floor debate; some years, the debate topics seemed less important than other years. I have also learned that very few decisions, whether or not they were made at a House session, have any immediate impact on changing pharmacy practice. Therefore, I don’t get as worked up about getting an issue settled immediately as I once did.

I would like to highlight 2 issues from this year’s session. One issue that was defeated but then reintroduced on the floor, and passed, was a policy that supports pharmacist participation in furnishing medical marijuana and its various components when scientific data support legitimate medical use of the product and its delivery mechanisms. A delegate from the Association of Student Pharmacists (ASP) brought this issue to the floor—more evidence of the important role that student pharmacists and the ASP play in our profession.

The second issue is a new business item that was passed: “The APhA discourages pharmacist participation in executions on the basis that such actions are fundamentally contrary to the role of pharmacists as providers of health care.” This item received wide coverage in the consumer media: when I returned from the meeting in San Diego, several people mentioned to me that they had seen news about pharmacists taking this action. I had never before received such feedback related to an action taken at an APhA House of Delegates meeting.

Some other observations follow:

  • Nearly 6000 attended this meeting, making it one of the larger APhA meetings in recent years. The APhA must be doing something right!
  • This year’s theme was “Advancing as One,” and it was very evident throughout the meeting that the APhA is an inclusive organization, recognizing the contributions of others and communicating the idea that we must work together for pharmacy to advance. It is clear to me that the APhA and its leadership are communicating this message in both words and actions.
  • Matthew C. Osterhaus, APhA immediate past president, in his presidential address, talked about the numerous ways we are advancing as one through a unified profession, associations, the health care team, and the patient care process.
  • President L.B. Brown, in his president-elect message, called on pharmacists to tell one person each day for 5 days, “Pharmacists provide care… let me tell you about it”—a reminder to me that each of us can play a role in advancing pharmacy.

Not everyone can get away to attend pharmacy association meetings. I feel privileged to be in a position to still be able to participate, and I always leave feeling energized and believing that pharmacy has a bright future. When we each adopt the theme that we advance as one and feel empowered to make a difference, pharmacists will be able to take their rightful place on the health care team.