Chapter 4: Speeding into fall
The following is the fourth edition of APhA President Brad Tice's monthly guest blog. July and August can seem like slow months for getting work done, and that was my perception when I first took over as APhA President. I thought I would have a bit of down time, but of course, this was not the case, and I’m actually glad. My 12-month term is flying by! I am so thankful for the opportunity to represent pharmacists and the profession during this eventful time.
At the end of July, we held the stakeholder conference on pharmacist well-being. It was a great moment in our profession, as practicing pharmacists led the discussions and shared their experiences. When I started my year as president last March, I asked pharmacists to tell their stories of their impact on patients’ lives and the value they bring to the health care system.
At this conference, we heard stories of pharmacists literally diving through drive-through windows to administer naloxone to someone overdosing on narcotics. This occurred twice within the 2 weeks before the conference. APhA staff have worked feverishly to quickly turn out the report. You can read it here, including the 50 recommendations developed from the conference. We are working now to act on these recommendations.
While pharmacists are making an awesome impact, we see more reports of decreased hours and wages for pharmacists, closed pharmacies, and layoffs. What is really hitting home with me is the lack of recognition for pharmacists’ value. APhA, and every pharmacist, must do more to get this recognition. We must double-down on the stories and communicate the value we provide, and not be shy in sharing them. We all must engage in advocating for ourselves and our profession.
My time engaging on social media also kept me busy responding to about 30 questions from Pharmacist Anonymous and The Cynical Pharmacist. I am hopeful that this dialogue will answer questions and dispel the cynical view that our organization isn’t working for a brighter future for pharmacists. APhA is the association for all pharmacists. APhA represents every pharmacist across the entire country in every practice setting. While we each have our own perspective, we are all better off when working together.
As I said in my opening remarks, every pharmacist, when choosing to enter the profession, is a character in the ever-developing story of the profession. APhA has taken action to make membership and connection accessible by creating a new membership model. If you want to connect with peers to share experiences, we have the channels and have made becoming an “informed member” an easy decision with aggressive pricing. We are trying to provide solutions to the concerns we hear about practice isolation.
I am also grateful and proud that APhA stepped up last month, through the leadership of Tom Menighan, and offered free memberships to pharmacists who have been laid off or had their hours reduced. The offer provides them with continued access to information, networking, and resources during this transition time. If you are one of those pharmacists and have not previously seen or acted on this offer, reach out to the membership department at Infocenter@aphanet.org or 800-237-APhA (2742) x2.
August was a month of mixed emotions. On the one hand, it was a difficult month. Pharmacy lost a true leader when Chris Decker, the CEO and executive director of the Pharmacy Society of Wisconsin, lost his battle with cancer. Chris was a truly unique and positive leader for the profession. His legacy will not be lost. I was so glad to be able to attend the services to honor him. It was such a tribute to him and the pharmacy family.
At the same time, it was a special month personally, as my daughter entered pharmacy school. She is attending Lipscomb University in Nashville, where we live, and I am so proud of her for choosing pharmacy. It was a special moment for us when my wife Angela, who is also a pharmacist, and I got to “coat” her as part of the White Coat Ceremony. Thank you, Lipscomb University College of Pharmacy, for affording us this opportunity. I believe in the future of this profession, and I am excited for the opportunities that lay ahead for her.
These opportunities won’t just magically appear. We have much work to be done. Yet I can see many bright spots, always highlighted in Pharmacy Today, where pharmacists are delivering care and being recognized for their value.
One development in the profession that I am particularly excited about is the work of the Community Pharmacy Foundation and its “Flip the Pharmacy” grants. These grants, awarded across 27 states, will focus on implementing pharmacy models that more fully engage and recognize the value of pharmacists’ services and work by increasing staffing of pharmacists. For pharmacists experiencing fewer hours or layoffs, this is a great place to look.
The fall is gearing up. With Congress back in session, we are continuing our work to address DIR fees. Our September APhA Board meeting always includes a joint meeting with state pharmacy associations, where we discuss various policy issues and activities to collectively help pharmacists at the state level. Following that meeting, our APhA Foundation hosts the Pinnacle Awards to recognize individuals and groups that contribute to quality care delivery and demonstrate the impact pharmacists can have. Shortly thereafter, we travel to the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) in Abu Dhabi Annual Congress. Health care issues, including those affecting pharmacy, are not restricted to our borders.
Thank you for the opportunity to represent the profession. More to come in Chapter 5!