One of our staff members recently received a wonderful letter from a pharmacist in Pennsylvania who had completed APhA’s Pharmacy-Based Immunization Delivery certificate training program in Scranton. Nelson Kardos, PhD, PharmD, is an APhA member. I’ll let his kind message speak for itself.
It is important for all pharmacists to actively support APhA, and to promote increased membership activity among their colleagues. The future careers of all pharmacists in all specialties in the United States depend on having a strong and independent advocate. APhA is the only credible candidate for this role. The present economic and regulatory climate is raining hard on pharmacists today, and APhA represents a strong umbrella to cover the profession.
I have heard complaints from both older and younger pharmacists that APhA membership is an unnecessary expense. This view could not be more incorrect. Membership in APhA is a professional insurance just as important to the pharmacist as having liability insurance. Today’s pharmacist is more vulnerable than before. The past era of a pharmacist shortage is over. As many independent pharmacies close and hospitals merge, the marketplace is putting great pressure on all pharmacists through both employment opportunities and professional compensation.
In addition, the pharmacy profession is somewhat fractured into a variety of specialties—community pharmacists, hospital pharmacists, long-term care pharmacists, compounding pharmacists, etc. Each group has its own advocacy organization, limiting the ability of pharmacists to move efficiently between specialties. Also, each state has its own pharmacy board and set of regulations.
These groups—public, private, and professional—offer smaller umbrellas with limited coverage, and leave many pharmacists out in the rain. The American pharmacist needs a neutral advocate that speaks for and protects the entire pharmacy profession. APhA provides a larger umbrella that covers all pharmacist groups and specialties throughout the country.
The individual is impotent to be his own advocate against both regulatory authorities and employers in the private and public sectors. Some pharmacists may complain about the cost and effort to achieve and renew professional certifications. It is these same “irksome” measures, however, that protect the pharmacist’s professionalism and also his well-paying job and career mobility. Without the protection of a strong professional advocate, many employers would be tempted to transfer some functions of the pharmacist to pharmacy technicians—to the detriment of the pharmacist. The advocacy of APhA is a strong protective voice for the entire pharmacy profession in America.
The cost of APhA membership is modest compared with the benefits conferred. And if the dollar offsets are measured, membership is cost neutral. These dollar offsets include the following: certain continuing pharmacy education courses through APhA at no cost; price reductions in pharmacy reference books and software purchased through APhA; and free access to a wide scope of professional references through APhA.
The value of the benefits of APhA membership exceeds the membership costs. Without the protection of a strong professional advocacy group, the pharmacist is far more vulnerable to the fashion of regulatory bodies and to the pressure of the marketplace. A pharmacist who is not an APhA member is taking a significant professional risk—not unlike the risk of driving a car without insurance.