Pharmacy Schools Advocate for Pharmacist Provider Status

February 26, 2015
Meghan Ross, Associate Editor

Five pharmacy schools received kudos from the CEO of the American Pharmacists Association for earning the highest rates of participation in the Pharmacists Provide Care Campaign.

Five pharmacy schools received kudos from the CEO of the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) for earning the highest rates of participation in the Pharmacists Provide Care Campaign, which advocates for pharmacist provider status.

In his February 2015 campaign update, APhA CEO Tom Menighan saluted Samford University, University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES), Wilkes University, Presbyterian College, and the University of Puerto Rico. Each school had participation from more than 20% of student pharmacists on campus, according to Menighan.

“The Pharmacists Provide Care campaign is grateful for the tremendous support from student pharmacists,” he said. “You are the future of the profession and the people who will be most affected by the passage of provider status legislation.”

Menighan praised the pharmacy students’ outreach efforts and their congressional visits, which helped encourage members of Congress to become co-sponsors of federal provider status legislation.

Jessica Carver, president of the APhA Academy of Student Pharmacists (APhA-ASP) chapter at Samford University’s McWhorter School of Pharmacy, told Pharmacy Times in an exclusive interview that there were a number of reasons why the chapter decided to be active with advocacy.

She cited a fact from the Pharmacists Provide Care website, which stated that 57 of 67 counties in Alabama are medically underserved and do not have access to pharmacist-provided services, such as chronic disease management, drug therapy management, and preventative screenings. Samford is also located in 1 of 3 states that does not have a collaborative practice agreement, which allows pharmacists to provide expanded services.

One of the activities in which Samford pharmacy students were involved was an annual letter-writing campaign in the fall. Students sent electronic letters to lawmakers and asked them to support legislation for pharmacy.

“This year, the big push was for Congress to amend the Social Security Act to enable Medicare beneficiaries to access pharmacist-provided services under Part B,” Carver told Pharmacy Times.

More than 100 students signed up as supporters of the Pharmacists Provide Care Campaign online and wrote letters.

Another activity in which Samford’s APhA-ASP chapter has been involved was passing out buttons for students and pharmacists to put on their white coats that said “Not 1 of 3,” referring to the collaborative practice agreement figures.

More than 40 students also made pies and auctioned them off to raise money for APhA’s Political Action Committee (PAC) fund. Carver noted that Samford’s chapter was in the top 5 schools nationally for top donors to the PAC fund in the last 2 years.

Lastly, Samford’s APhA-ASP chapter has been participating in a policy postcard challenge. This effort entails providing patients with a postcard on which they can write about their experience with a pharmacist after health screenings and counseling. The postcard is then mailed to their state senators and representatives.

“This initiative aims to merge patient care and grass roots advocacy,” Carver told Pharmacy Times.

Meanwhile, at UMES, APhA-ASP chapter adviser William Harbester, PharmD, highlighted 3 students’ efforts.

Dr. Harbester praised chapter president Salematou Traore, policy vice president Bart Anderson, and president-elect Shannon Riggins for their efforts to lead the campaign at UMES. The students initiated a Pharmacists Provide Care Campaign sign-up drive, which led to about 40% of the pharmacy students on campus to register on the website, Dr. Harbester told Pharmacy Times.

UMES’s APhA-ASP chapter also set up booths at health fairs to encourage sign-ups from other students and patients served at the fairs.

Like Samford’s chapter, UMES has been involved in the postcard challenge to remind legislators about the importance of pharmacists. Dr. Harbester also noted that his students just recently participated in Maryland Legislative Day, which revolved around discussions of provider status with state legislators.