Community Pharmacy: Center of Immunization Services - Episode 3

Advocating For the Advancement of Pharmacy Practice

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Jennifer Adams, PharmD, EdD, share thoughts on why right now is the perfect opportunity to advocate for expansion of privileges to advance pharmacy practice.

Ed Cohen, PharmD, FAPhA: Jen, you and I have had many conversations on this topic, pharmacists’ privilege. I’m going to turn to you and have you share some thoughts as well.

Jennifer Adams, PharmD, EdD: Liz, thank you for your comments. I think, as a profession right now, we have a huge opportunity. In those states where things aren’t sticking as much as we want them to, this is our opportunity to advocate. We’ve demonstrated, over the course of the last year, what we’re capable of as a profession across the United States. I think it’s time we begin to advocate across all the states and be progressive like we are here in Idaho. I served on the AACP [American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy] strategic engagement committee over the course of the last year. One of our tasks was specific to this topic. How do we capitalize on these opportunities? What can we do to further advocate for the profession? One of the things that came out of a lot of those conversations with the committee that stuck with me was the best way to be prepared for an emergency, such as a pandemic. The best way to prepare is to practice that way all the time, so the opportunity for potential errors, or for mistakes when you’re implementing something new, or when you’re completely changing your workflow, or when you’re adding new responsibilities for members of the team who haven’t had those responsibilities in the past, all introduce opportunity for error.

What does pandemic-ready practice look like? It’s advanced practice. It’s the type of practice we have here in Idaho that allows folks to be able to use their skills all the time. We’re more prepared to be able to help in a pandemic or another type of an emergency. I think we have a great opportunity. I would encourage, if you’re in one of those states and you want start to advocating, and you aren’t sure where to start, reach out to those of us who have been advocating and pushing for these things to move forward because we’re always happy to help. I’ve worked with quite a few different states around the country in some of their efforts to advance their pharmacy practice laws. My caveat is that we have to continue to advocate. I know it’s like, “OK, 1 more thing on the list of things we have to do.” To be able to provide the services we know our patients need in our communities—such as this type of advanced immunization service—in a way that works with the workflow, and using our support staff to their highest expertise, is what we’ve got to be able to do. We can all get there together. Idaho has been a little more advanced, but we can help other states get there as well.

John Beckner, RPh: Ed, if I could interject a couple of things, please. First and foremost, I want to go practice in Idaho. There are so many good things going on in Idaho that I think we all need to work to make sure there are states similar to Idaho out there. I agree with the previous comment that there isn’t a better time to advocate on behalf of the profession. So many good things have happened during the pandemic that are relative to pharmacy. That’s certainly been one of the silver linings, in terms of pharmacy showcasing what we can do. The argument I’ve heard often about continuing the authority that was given to pharmacists during the pandemic is that if you can do it during the pandemic, you’d be hard-pressed to make an argument that you can’t do it afterward. Certainly, this is going to be state-specific. I think some states are going to continue with that authority. Some states are going to go back to the old way. Hopefully, no states are going to become more restrictive than they were before the pandemic. I wanted to mention that NCPA [National Community Pharmacists Association], my organization, is very focused on activity within states, relative to scope of practice and the authorizations that were granted during the pandemic. So, there is lots of work to do moving forward, but I think folks are optimistic that we’re going to eventually get to where Idaho is.

Ed Cohen, PharmD, FAPhA: I’ve never seen such a broad collaboration. Not only government groups, but all of the organizations that represent pharmacy have gotten together to lobby as a single voice for permanent change for the profession.

Transcript edited for clarity.