Local Pharmacy Association Successes and Challenges

In its short tenure as an active local, the GCPA has seen its share of successful and not-so-successful events.

In 2010, the Genesee County Pharmacists Association (GCPA) hasn’t been active for nearly 2 decades.

Work to rebuild it started that September. A website was created, organizational documents were drafted, and membership meetings were successfully attended. In May 2011, the Michigan Pharmacists Association (MPA) granted the GCPA active status again, and it became official in June 2011.

​​The GCPA was originally founded as the Flint Druggist Association in 1928. It changed its name to Genesee County Pharmaceutical Association in 1961. In reactivating, its current name was selected to fit the naming standards of other local associations.

Over the years, pharmacy practice has changed significantly. However, one thing remains the same: the efforts of local pharmacy associations are still one of the key ways advancements in the profession take place.

In its short tenure as an active local, the GCPA has seen its share of successful and not-so-successful events. Some of the unsuccessful events included a day-long Saturday continuing education (CE) program and a Halloween party.

The CE program had a fee associated with it, as the association was trying to cover its costs and potentially raise some dollars for future activities. Between the fee and consuming an entire weekend day, we could count the registrants on one hand and had to cancel the program. In the case of the Halloween party, there were too few registrants to justify the cost of food and entertainment.

From these unsuccessful events, we learned our members didn’t want to commit an entire day to CE, and asking for money at every event to cover our costs or to raise funds got old fast. We noticed it always helped to have more than one activity (eg, business meeting, CE) at an event to draw more attendees.

So, we tried out evening CE dinner programs. The CE and food were free, and the programs were only about an hour long. We saw 15 to 20 attendees, on average, which largely outnumbered that Saturday program. We tried to offset the costs with “booth sponsors” outside the program, but if we didn’t find one, the show went on.

Realizing we needed funds, but not wanting to ask members to pay to attend each of our programs, we established the GCPA golf scramble as our primary means of supporting operations throughout the year. We wanted to keep pricing reasonable, give a lot for a little, and keep our risk low. We depended a lot on sponsors, donors, and volunteers. One of our members was also a member of a local golf club, so we were able to use the facilities at no charge.

We played on a Saturday in early September, so we didn’t compete with summer vacations and the club’s avid golfers. This meant we were limited in the number of golfers, but that was ok because it made it easier to fill up. For $100, players got lunch, dinner, 18 holes with a cart, driving range use before tee time, raffle tickets, a goodie bag, and a great time. We gained more sponsors each year and correspondingly raised more funds. Volunteers staffed the holes, delivered food, assembled the goodie bags, and took photos. The event now called the Spud Software Scramble for GCPA will be in its fifth year on September 10, 2016.

This is just a snippet of the GCPA in recent years. There are a lot of murmurs about other local associations being formed or reactivating. Your state pharmacy association is a great resource for helping to get a local going. Although it may take some time upfront, getting to work with local leaders (like those of the GCPA) can make it a rewarding experience.