How Pharmacists Can Participate in Local Pharmacy Associations

In addition to national and state pharmacy associations, many pharmacists have a local pharmacy association they can join.

In addition to national and state pharmacy associations, many pharmacists have a local pharmacy association they can join.

Local associations are like mini-state chapters. They generally have a governing board, organize programs for members, and seek to advance pharmacy.

Sometimes, membership in a local is included as part of state membership dues. One key difference for locals, however, is all local activities take place in your backyard, so you don’t have to travel far to take advantage of some of the benefits that state or national associations offer.

Involvement in the community is one of the ways locals advance the profession and give members a meaningful way to engage. Some examples of community engagement may be closer to pharmacy practice than others.

Many locals routinely staff volunteer members at free medical clinics. Providing medication experts at brown-bag programs and drug take-back events are also common among locals.

However, community engagement doesn’t have to involve medications. Participating in fundraisers for local charities, sponsoring educational videos, staffing a pharmacy table at a career fair, or doing some manual labor like construction, cleaning, or painting are all ways locals are helping their communities.

If you haven’t had a chance to get involved in your local, reach out to a few members of its board. Your state association may be able to give you the contact information of locals near your home or work.

Is your local not active enough? Perhaps it needs your help. Locals commonly have more than 100 members, and if more members take on just one small task, it’s bound to be more effective for its membership and community.

If you don’t have a local in your area, it’s not unheard of for members in non-local areas to reactivate a dormant local, start a new one, or work with an existing local to become part of its footprint through annexation. In any case, the result is newly-active local territories.

However, there are some differences for each process. Some suggested steps are described below. Whatever the scenario, remember that you don’t have to do it alone, as you can lean on your state pharmacy association and colleagues to get started.

Annexation

1. Reach out to an active local to determine whether there’s interest in annexing a nearby inactive territory. If there’s no interest or it’s deemed impractical, consider starting a new local.

2. If there’s interest, contact your state association to obtain contact information for members in the inactive territory, or work with your colleagues to create a contact list.

3. Survey those contacts to determine their interest in becoming members of the existing local. If they’re interested, work with your state association and/or the active local on next steps. If there isn’t interest, consider starting a new local.

Starting a New Local or Reactivating a Dormant One

1. Check with your state association to see if there’s a protocol for starting a new local or reactivating a dormant one. If so, be sure to follow it. Your state association can be a great resource for starting or reactivating a local, but it has state and federal practices it needs you to follow.

2. Contact your state association or work with your colleagues to create a contact list for prospective members in the inactive territory.

3. Survey those prospects to determine their interest in joining a new local. In this survey period, it’s especially important to determine whether potential members are willing to serve on the governing board, which may consist of just a president, secretary, and treasurer, or be much larger than that. Don’t feel that the inaugural governing board needs to be large; the association’s bylaws can always be amended to increase the number of board members in the future.

4. Convene a meeting of interested individuals to obtain commitment to the new local’s success, including participation in local activities and on the board. Also, agree to a set of bylaws and determine where funding will come from to support the local’s launch. Sometimes, funding is available through grants from the state association or a related nonprofit foundation.

In the coming weeks, this article series will focus on starting a local, grassroots advocacy from a local, effective practices and tools for a local, and some successes and challenges of a local 5 years after its establishment. Keep an eye out for the next article in the series!