Take a Moment to Reflect On How Far the Industry Has Come During American Pharmacists Month

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Margaret Ryman, BS, PharmD, BCPS, vice president of Health Systems at McKesson, discussed how she has seen the pharmacy field change and how she is celebrating this American Pharmacists Month.

In an interview with Pharmacy Times, Margaret Ryman, BS, PharmD, BCPS, vice president of Health Systems at McKesson, discussed how she has seen the pharmacy field change and how she is celebrating this American Pharmacists Month.

Q: Can you introduce yourself?

A: Yes, thank you so much for having me today. I am Margaret Ryman, vice president of Health Systems at McKesson, and I'm a pharmacist. My team and I work with our McKesson health systems customers. People always ask us what we do, and simply put, we take care of our customers so they can take care of our patients. I have more than 22 years’ experience as a pharmacist, including a broad range of practice settings, with a majority of my experience working with health systems all across the nation.

Q: How have you seen the role of the pharmacist change and evolve throughout your career?

A: Yeah, the first word that comes to my mind is there's been tremendous, tremendous change. When I graduated from pharmacy school, I really thought the only 2 options were to be either a hospital pharmacist or a retail pharmacist. And my last 3 jobs were literally not even on my radar screen; I'm still finding out about opportunities that pharmacists can do that I could not have imagined 20-plus years ago. I think more broadly, consumers really rely on pharmacists now more than ever. As a result of the pandemic, the pharmacist role in health care has been more broadly recognized. We've elevated the role that we play in people's lives. The scope of practice has expanded so much because of the unique expertise and the skills that pharmacists bring to the table. Across the whole continuum of care, pharmacists today play a role in bridging health care gaps between patients and other providers.

Q: How are you celebrating this American Pharmacists Month?

A: Yes, I'll let you know kind of organizationally what we're doing and then my personal plans to celebrate. So, at McKesson, we recognize the many crucial contributions pharmacists make to the profession, and not only to the profession but the health care system as a whole, from educating patients on their available therapeutic options, to helping them break through medication access barriers, and also working along with other clinicians at the patient's bedside to identify the most effective course of care possible. The business and the practice of pharmacy is very personal. In honor of American Pharmacists month, we'll share stories on Prescribed Perspectives, which is our publication, from our own pharmacists on what drives them in their quest to help health systems and the patients they care for. So, for example, on October 12, for Woman Pharmacists Day, one of my colleagues will do a video interview describing her own experiences. And we'll also have features on Pharmacy Technician Day on October 17, and Pharmacy Buyers Day on October 28. We'll share these posts on social media to help bring awareness to American Pharmacists Month as well, so we invite you to follow along with us and join us in celebrating all pharmacists for the difference that they continue to make in advancing the profession of pharmacy and driving positive outcomes.

As far as my own personal plan, instead of looking at all the work ahead of us, because there's still a lot to do, I'm going to take a pause—which I don't do often enough—and really reflect and celebrate how far we've come.

Q: What does the value of the pharmacist mean to you?

A: The value of a pharmacist is their unique expertise and differentiated value that they bring to health care, interacting with patients and other providers and many other things to really lead to better health care outcomes. Pharmacists really bridge the gap of diagnosis to treatment from a safety, efficacy, and then a cost perspective, and this ultimately helps improve patient outcomes and adherence. One of the most accessible care providers is the pharmacist, so they also help advance health equity.

Q: How do you see the future of pharmacy evolving?

A: Well, I think it's really exciting. I look forward to the future. Pharmacists have earned even a greater public recognition since the start of the pandemic and I just continue to see pharmacists embracing the expanded role, creating opportunities to evolve and being key players at the decision table. Increasingly, one trend that I'm seeing is that we're seeing pharmacists take top leadership roles, not just in the pharmacy, but for the entire health system. And, just personally, as a member of the Critical Care Task Force, which we created the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, it's really highlighted the importance of having the pharmacist as part of a multidisciplinary team to leverage our unique expertise, collaborate across disciplines, and across our company for positive health care outcomes for patients.

Q: Is there anything you’d like to add?

A: I think just in summary, the role that pharmacists play in our health, our communities, and our lives has never been more crucial, more heroic, or more appreciated. This American Pharmacists Month, McKesson thanks pharmacists for all their effort and dedication. We truly respect and admire what pharmacists do to help advance health outcomes for all. And in closing, I just want to really thank you for having me on today.

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