Community Pharmacy: Center of Immunization Services - Episode 12

Pharmacy’s Role in Public Health Initiatives

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Panelists share final thoughts and advice regarding the critical role pharmacy has played and continues to play in public health initiatives.

Ed Cohen, PharmD, FAPhA: Before we conclude today’s discussion, I’d like to ask each of you for a final thought or some key advice you’d like to share with our audience. Jen, would you like to go first?

Jennifer Adams, PharmD, EdD: There are so many things I want to say. How do I condense it down into 1 final thought? I think, as pharmacists, we’ve known for a long time what role we play in our communities. We’ve known how we help keep our communities healthy, and we’ve known how we help keep our patients safe. Nearly every pharmacist I know cares so much about their patients and their communities, and this is another way we’re able to support the health of our communities. We should try to capitalize on this opportunity for more pharmacy advocacy, so that more pharmacists, across more states, can provide these types of services and get paid for them—that’s another conversation for another day. But it’s so important that the visibility we’ve achieved as a profession over the course of the last year, that we continue to capitalize on that opportunity. Hopefully, the pharmacists out there working on the front lines every day can feel that as well and have that same kind of hope, looking at this as an opportunity rather than a burden.

Ed Cohen, PharmD, FAPhA: Thank you, Jen. John?

John Beckner, RPh: Jen was too articulate, it’s tough to follow her. One of the things that comes to mind is that I’m incredibly proud of the way pharmacy, and pharmacists, have stepped up during an unprecedented health care crisis, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. There are so many examples of pharmacists going the extra mile, pharmacists and pharmacy staff; I don’t want to leave out technicians because they’ve played a critical role. In terms of showing others, whether they’re in health care or outside of our profession, I think we’ve been able to showcase our value, and there have been lots of lessons learned. One of the things I mentioned earlier is pharmacy having a big role in public health, whether it’s a pandemic, a natural disaster, or whatever situation, pharmacists play a critical role in public health. We need to continue to work with our colleagues in the public health sector to collaborate.

Ed Cohen, PharmD, FAPhA: Thank you, John. Liz?

Liz Oler, PharmD: First, I want to thank every pharmacist and every pharmacy technician out there who has been working so hard to protect our communities, and so tirelessly giving so much of themselves for the greater good. You guys have truly changed our world and our communities, so thank you for that and for all of your hard work there. The second thing I’d like to say is to continue to nurture the relationships that have been built. We’ve built relationships with physicians, health departments, and in a lot of different ways that we didn’t previously have. So continue to nurture those relationships because those are the ways we will continue to grow, to learn, and to be included and considered in different initiatives. Remember and nurture those relationships moving forward.

Ed Cohen, PharmD, FAPhA: Thank you, Liz. Susie?

Suzanne Soliman, PharmD, BCMAS: I think everything’s been stated already, but I want to echo what everyone else has said about pharmacists stepping up. We are recognized now by all of our patients. I think maybe in the 1990s or in the early 2000s, it was more questionable, “Where are we going to get our vaccines and where are we not?” Coming out of this pandemic, pharmacists are now recognized as the major provider for vaccinations. I’m going to echo in thanking everyone for everything they’ve done this year. We also have to work with our boards of health, I think it’s imperative for pharmacy to get more involved with our local boards of health. I think it’s critical to take this to the next level, and to help with pharmacy. I agree about the reimbursement, and I think that should be another topic because pharmacists want to get paid for what they’re doing, and rightly so, they deserve to be paid. I think we need to talk about that and continue that discussion as well.

Ed Cohen, PharmD, FAPhA: Thank you, Suzanne. Thank you all for your final thoughts, comments, and for the last hour of great conversation. To our viewing audience, we hope that you found this Pharmacy Times® webcast to be rich and informative. Thank you.

Transcript edited for clarity.