Celebrating 50 Years of ASHP Midyear

The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists has just finished celebrating 50 years of its Midyear Clinical Meeting.

The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) has just finished celebrating 50 years of its Midyear Clinical Meeting.

Not only was it special for me to hear from a few people who attended the very first ASHP Midyear, but it also allowed me to reflect on what this meeting has become.

For instance:

  • It is the largest gathering of pharmacists in the world.
  • It is focused on advancing clinical pharmacy.
  • There are numerous vendors and companies who are demonstrating products and services that can be used to advance your practice.
  • The residency showcase allows students to learn about the next step in their career development.

After attending various educational sessions and networking with many colleagues, I left the 2015 ASHP Midyear meeting with the following observations:

1. It is difficult to be a pharmacy director.

There are tremendous pressures facing these individuals, which include decreasing margins on inpatient admissions, shrinking drug product reimbursement, various proposed regulations that require significant attention to detail in order to maintain compliance with them, meeting institutional quality initiatives, identifying capital to cover sterile product area remodels or new technology purchases, and finding new revenue in the ambulatory setting.

All of these things have to be done while maintaining an engaged pharmacy workforce. Not many people are equipped to be successful at balancing all of these competing pressures.

2. There is tremendous optimism for the profession.

Even though it is difficult to manage all of the various activities, I remain optimistic for the profession of pharmacy. If we are able to exert strong leadership during this season of change and capitalize on the opportunities, pharmacy departments can emerge stronger than they currently are.

I believe this will result in better patient care than what we are currently offering. There will be a focus on improving the use of medications while ensuring that our limited resources are used wisely.

3. The potential of technology is amazing.

From listening to continuing education sessions that talked about future possibilities to evaluating technologies that were recently developed by different exhibitors, new innovations are all around us.

Many of these devices were not even contemplated a few years ago. For example, at the “Spotlight in Science” presentation, researchers described how they are creating a Pharmacy on Demand. This device, which can fit on a tabletop, will be able to create both small molecules and biological products.

While further testing and development has to occur, the data presented were compelling and opened up possibilities on what this could mean for drug manufacturing and the pharmacy profession in the future.

4. Attendees have to be organized to take full advantage of this meeting.

Because of the breadth of activities that occur at this meeting, an attendee cannot attempt to do everything. Before arriving, you have to identify 2 to 3 priorities of the meeting and then schedule these into your daily activities.

If you are like me, then many things attract your attention. Without a strategic schedule developed in advance, you could walk away with learning many things, but not accomplishing your primary objectives.

Even though the ASHP Midyear has reached its 50-year milestone, it is by no means the end of its relevance. I hope to be able to attend the 75th meeting.

In thinking about this one, I cannot fathom what health-system pharmacy practice will be like, how the meeting will be organized to prepare individuals for practice, and where it will be held 25 years from now.

I would appreciate any insights and experiences you might have on this perspective. You can let me know what you think by e-mail at seckel@unc.edu or Twitter @stepheneckel.

Stephen F. Eckel, PharmD, MHA, BCPS, FNAP, FCCP, FASHP, FAPhA, is the Pharmacy Times Health-System Edition Editor. He is the associate director of pharmacy at the University of North Carolina (UNC) Medical Center and a clinical associate professor at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy.