STUDENT POLITICAL INVOLVEMENT DOES IMPACT PHARMACY

Pharmacy Careers, Volume 0, 0

StaffWriter, Pharmacy Times

The health care industry is constantlyevolving, and it continues tobe a political issue for the presidentialcandidates. In today?s health carelandscape, pharmacy students needto do more than just get their degree.Because pharmacists are on the frontlines in helping ensure patients?medicalneeds are met, students need toget involved with pharmacy associations?legislative arenas.

Pharmacy studentLogan Davis,who attendsSamford UniversityMcWhorterSchool of Pharmacyin Alabama, knowspolitical involvementis important,since he wants topractice in an independentpharmacy setting. ?Whilemany may say that independentpharmacy is becoming a thing of thepast, I know that an independentpharmacy can be extremely successfulif it is willing to change with theever-changing pharmacy marketplaceand the growing health careneeds of its patients.?

When he began pharmacy schoolin 2004, he became a member of theschool?s National Community PharmacistsAssociation (NCPA) chapter.His most recent position was vicepresident of legislative affairs. Loganalso is a member of the Academy ofStudent Pharmacists and the AlabamaPharmacy Association. ?Throughmy involvement in these organizations,I have come to realize howimportant it is for pharmacy studentsand pharmacists alike to becomefamiliar with the political process andbe current on political issues that areaffecting the profession.?

Logan believes that getting politicallyinvolved is beneficial for pharmacystudents, especially those wantingto own their own pharmacy.

?I feel that it is important for studentsto get politically involved becausewe have chosen this profession,and it just so happens that the professionof pharmacy is regulated by thegovernment. With the potential forthis regulation on the increase, withthe expansion of Medicare, now is thebest time to get involved and knowwhat is going on in our local, state,and federal governments as it pertainsto pharmacy. I also feel that theprofession offers so much to students,and we owe it to all who havecome before us and all who comeafter us to do all that we can to protectthe profession.?

He also feels that political involvementpresents networking opportunities.?The way I see it, I want toknow pharmacists who care aboutthe profession, and there is no betterway to get to know someone thanworking with them on a politicalissue that affects pharmacy. This isespecially true in independent pharmacy,as independent pharmacyowners usually feel the effects ofpharmacy legislation and regulationat a very personal level.?

University of Mississippi (UM)School of Pharmacy student BrookeEmmons knows it is crucial for pharmacystudents to take leadershiproles and become politically active.While Emmons has worked at MagnoliaRegional Health Center in thepharmacy department for almost 10years, she is using her last year ofschool to explore all the areas thathave interested her throughout herpharmacy experience to determinewhere she will have the biggestimpact.

Emmons is involved in numerouspharmacy organizations includingthe school?s American Society ofHealth-System Pharmacists (ASHP),where she is serving as president,NCPA chapter, and the AmericanPharmacists Association (APhA). Sherecalled her first trip to Washington,DC, during the NCPA LegislativeConference.

?It was amazing to watch the individualimpact that citizens can makeby educating our elected officials onissues that shape the world aroundus,? Emmons said. ?They were soapproachable and receptive to theneeds of pharmacists, and they werenot at all as intimidating as I hadimagined.?

She credits Mississippi Rep BobbyHowell, RPh, for his efforts in helpingcommunity pharmacy. Howell ownsthe only pharmacy in Kilmicheal,Miss.?He has been instrumental on the governmentside in expressing the currentdilemma of community pharmacywith regards to reimbursement issues.He has become a mentor for me inproviding insight into not only theins and outs of the political process,but also small townpharmacy.?

One of Emmons?biggest challengeswas when she servedin the newly createdcoordinator positionfor the StudentPolitical InformationNetwork withinthe school?s APhA chapter. ?Becauseit was so new, I had to becreative with getting the word outabout political issues?not just tostudents within the organization andin the student body, but to electedstate and national officials as well.?

She said she is committed to ?theprofession of pharmacy, and believe[s] in the power of leadership as afuture medication expert. Throughleadership roles in ASHP, APhA,NCPA, and UM School of PharmacyStudent Body Government, I havelearned there is no greater way to getthe ball rolling than to be in a positionto push it yourself.?

Both students agree that manychallenges are impacting the future ofpharmacy. Logan believes the commoditizationof prescription drugs isa concern. ?As drugs become more ofa commodity, the need for a pharmacistdecreases. Pharmacists need toprove their worth with currentopportunities such as MTM [medicationtherapy management] services.Many Medicare Part D plans coverthis service in some form orfashion, but I do not think that pharmacistsshould stop there.?

He continued, ?Pharmacists havethe ability to save corporations largeamounts of money by managing thetherapy of chronic diseases, such asdiabetes, as shown in the AshevilleProject and the Diabetes Ten CityChallenge, to name a few projects. Ina political environment where thecost of health care is a hot-buttonissue, pharmacists must be able toshow added value for their services.?

Emmons feels that lack of leadershipis a major issue. ?You cannotstand up and ask others to serve, ifyou are not willing to serve yourself.Because of this, I have been activelyinvolved as a member of all the studentorganizations in pharmacyschool to support my fellow colleagues?endeavors within their leadershipgrowth. I enthusiastically learnfrom their direction and mimic positiveaspects of it to apply to my ownleadership skills.?