ASHP Midyear: Why It's Worthwhile for Pharmacists
The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists Midyear Clinical Meeting is still billed as a "can't miss" event.
The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) Midyear Clinical Meeting is the largest gathering of pharmacists worldwide. Not only are their numerous educational sessions to attend, but there are also opportunities to learn about new drugs and technology through the exhibits, as well as plenty of chances to network with colleagues.
In speaking with many pharmacy administrators, I have learned it is getting more and more difficult for hospitals to financially support members of their department to attend the ASHP Midyear. In addition, I have heard from clinical pharmacists that there are better, more focused meetings in their field. After considering all of this, it made me wonder whether the ASHP Midyear will continue to maintain its importance as a “can’t miss” event.
Here are some of the reasons why it might not:
- Reduced travel budgets: Almost all hospitals have significantly cut their travel budgets, so their ability to send many staff members and pay for all of their expenses is severely limited. This is happening as meeting registrations and hotel rates soar. If pharmacists have to pay out of their own pockets to attend the ASHP Midyear, will they continue to come?
- Proliferation of continuing education (CE): Given all of the opportunities and avenues to complete CE these days, one does not need to attend the ASHP Midyear solely for obtaining enough hours for re-licensure.
- Constrained job market: With fewer new positions being created and less job movement, there is no pressing need to recruit through the Personal Placement Service. Even if an institution has a new vacant position, the willingness and ability to wait until August for a new resident to fill it is not ideal, and with experienced individuals available, recruiting at the ASHP Midyear might not be helpful.
Despite these issues, the ASHP Midyear continues to break attendance records, everyone talks about it, and it is still labeled as a “can’t miss” event. Here are a few reasons why:
- Networking opportunities — Every hospital pharmacy department is under pressure to reduce drug expenses, find new revenue opportunities, assist with reducing readmissions, meet hospital clinical and quality goals, and maintain an engaged pharmacy department. Many leaders might deem this impossible, and in an isolated situation, it might be. However, when a critical mass gathers to discuss how they approached a problem and people start brainstorming together, solutions emerge. Not only can pharmacy leaders determine best practices to meet organizational goals, but they can also get encouraged by speaking with peers in similar situations. At the ASHP Midyear, they have people to reach out to when they need answers and hold them accountable to delivering on their goals.
- Additional pharmacy groups — Because the ASHP Midyear gathers so many individuals in one place, other affiliations hold their annual meeting in conjunction with the event. You can attend these in addition to the main event, if you arrive a few days early. These are great for networking and learning from peers who share your interests, and they reduce your total time away from work and travel costs if you had to attend a separate event.
- Exhibit area — The ASHP Midyear highlights new technologies and drugs, with company representatives available to answer your specific questions. While your hospital might not currently be in the market for any new technologies, you can still learn about their features and benefits. By being able to view them all at the same time, comparisons can be made to determine the best technology to select, minimizing the overall evaluation period and avoiding a less-than-optimal purchase when the opportunity arises.
Even if a pharmacist has to pay out of pocket to attend the ASHP Midyear, I believe the extra expense is worth it. Factoring in the amount of money that a pharmacist makes and the valuable amount of knowledge, networking, and opportunities that are available, the expense and time away from work can be easily justified. However, strategically plan your time before arriving at the meeting, or the benefits of attending could be missed.
I will be at the meeting attempting to take advantage of all that it has to offer. I know my schedule will start early in the morning and end late in the evening. Stop by and introduce yourself to me, as I would love to meet you.
I would appreciate any insights you might have on this perspective. You can let me know what you think via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.