APhA Welcomes New President With a Focus on Providing Care to Communities

March 16, 2021

As a first-generation college graduate with a focus on providing care to underserved and low-income communities, new APhA President Sandra Leal said her main goal is to continue advocating for the pharmacy field.

Sandra Leal, PharmD, MPH, FAPhA, CDE, has been inducted as the new president of the American Pharmacists Association (APhA), officially taking the reigns as part of the 2021 APhA Annual Meeting and Exposition on March 15.1,2

Leal graduated from the University of Colorado (UC) Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences in 1999 and is executive vice president of Tabula Rasa Healthcare, based in Moorestown, NJ. According to UC, Leal is a first-generation college graduate and practices with a focus on providing care to underserved and low-income communities.1,2

Leal’s leadership term with APhA with be 3 years.1

“I’ve been a member for pretty much my entire career,” Leal said, in a prepared statement. “My goal is to continue to focus on the value of pharmacists. We really have a role that makes sure patients are having the best outcomes.”1

After she graduated from UC, Leal completed a pharmacy residency at the US Department of Veterans Affairs as well as a fellowship at the US Department of Health and Human Services. In 2001, she joined the El Rio Community Health Center in Tucson, Arizona. She soon became the pharmacy director and medical director of the center’s Broadway Clinic, where she helped patients manage chronic illnesses such as diabetes and high blood pressure.1,2

Leal also became the first clinical pharmacist in Arizona to earn limited prescribing rights under collaborative agreements to help patients with chronic illnesses.1

“My favorite type of work was when I could talk with people,” Leal said in the statement. “My experiences with patients made me proud of my career choice. Patients from my days at El Rio still call me to thank me.”1

According to UC, Leal was raised in Arizona, where her family relied on pharmacists across the border in Mexico for medical care. With this background in mind, she has devoted much of her career to helping low-income patients access pharmacists and health care.1

“My parents only spoke Spanish,” Leal said in the statement. “There was a language barrier in Arizona when accessing health care providers. The pharmacists in Mexico spoke Spanish and always knew what bug was going around. We would walk across the border to Mexico to talk with the pharmacists, and walk out with a treatment that we could understand and that was affordable.”1

Over her career, Leal said she has watched the pharmacy field evolve to include more overall care for patients and more involvement in their health concerns.1

“Being a pharmacist has evolved so much,” she said in the statement. “Pharmacists aren’t just dispensing medications. Pharmacists are one of the most trusted positions in medicine. People believe what we say, and they can come to us, talk with us, and get help.”1

According to APhA, Leal has published and presented her work in national and international publications as well as in venues abroad, including Peru, India, and Japan. Leal has been recognized as the Good Government Pharmacist of the Year by APhA for her advocacy work on pharmacist provider status, is a 2-time recipient of the Pinnacle Award from the APhA Foundation for her progressive practice innovations, and recipient of the ASHP Best Practice Award for her leading practice in diabetes management.2

REFERENCES

  1. Graduate Takes the Reigns of National Organization [news release]. University of Colorado Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences; March 15, 2021. Accessed March 16, 2021. https://news.cuanschutz.edu/pharmacy/graduate-takes-the-reigns-of-national-organization
  2. APhA 2021 Annual Meeting and Exposition. APhA. March 15, 2021. https://apha2021.pharmacist.com/