During the APhA–ASP Summer Leadership Institute in July, we took advantage of the opportunity to promote the profession and seek support for the Pharmacy and Medically Underserved Areas Enhancement Act (H.R. 592/S. 314) on Capitol Hill. Below is a recap of our visits and how we live our “why” through advocacy.
Because Sen. Benjamin Cardin (D–MD) had recently signed onto S. 314, my fellow students and I wanted to personally stop by and thank his staff for their support. We also wanted to converse with them generally about pharmacy to build a relationship. We talked to his staff about the various roles pharmacists have in health care and how S. 314 will impact and improve health care. We answered questions and told our own personal stories about how expanding pharmacists’ roles can save health care costs and help the health care system be more efficient.
After every legislative event, I always feel re-invigorated and excited that I decided to enter the profession. I see so many possibilities to make a difference and I hope to continue being involved in grassroots lobbying. In time, I am sure our efforts will be fruitful and make a difference in improving health care.
I was absolutely thrilled to take part in the Capitol Hill visits. The morning started off with a rush and I was still trying to stay calm because I was definitely nervous to speak on such an important matter for the profession.
I love that student pharmacists educated members of Congress about the importance of recognizing pharmacists as providers. If we do not educate the staff and members of Congress, they will not know the importance of legislation that will affect their own constituents. The one thing that stood out from my time on Capitol Hill is that the staffers want to be educated on what we do as a profession, but may not have the sources to learn that information. During these visits, we are the resource and we are a vital part to advocating for the profession.
The last thing that I took from my visits was the unity of APhA–ASP. I did not do these visits alone, but with my fellow student pharmacists. Thank you to the APhA staff, national executive team, and my colleagues for an amazing experience on Capitol Hill.
When presenting to members of the North Carolina delegation, it became evident that none realized the extent of student pharmacists’ education. Intrigued by our explanation of the training we now receive, the services we can provide, and the role pharmacists have outside of dispensing medications, congressional members wanted to learn more about the profession.
We explained our role in an interdisciplinary team and the value pharmacists bring to patient care, shared stories illustrating our ability to provide quality care to patients, and emphasized the role pharmacists have outside of dispensing medications. Once the light bulb went on for them, legislators and staff members further inquired about our goals and the impact the passage of the bills would have on them.
We found that by engaging legislators, we can change the current perception of our limitations and illustrate that pharmacists should be recognized as providers, and practice pharmacy to its full potential. It requires stepping out of our comfort zones and advocating on behalf of patients and the future of quality health care.