"Don't walk away from reform!"

Those words, spoken by President Barack Obama during his State of the Union address on January 27, were intended to spur Congress to continue its deliberations until health care reform is achieved. How Congress will respond will be the topic of speculation, conjecture, and debate for weeks. I have concerns about how we'll pay for reform, but even more serious concerns about what will happen if we don't.

My personal views on the "whether or not" are unimportant. What is important to you as a pharmacist in America is that we are working for you to ensure you have the opportunity to practice what you've been trained to do and to provide the services you've asked us to promote for you.

APhA will continue to pursue with Congress, CMS, AHRQ, FDA, and managed care organizations the principles we've so often articulated: consumer access to quality pharmacist-provided medication therapy management (MTM) services. We will continue that fight because it is the mission we set about achieving 20 years ago and the mission that the Joint Commission of Pharmacy Practitioners (made up of all pharmacist-member national associations) articulated for 2015.

I'm willing to accept criticism that APhA is too focused on this mission! And believe me we do receive criticism. We get it from folks who feel stuck in jobs that don't allow them lunch breaks, let alone the time to conduct MTM. And we get it from pharmacists who don't think immunization is the purview of pharmacists. We sometimes hear that our pursuits aren't realistic to young practitioners who enter a practice that isn't yet progressive enough to allow them to practice as they were trained. The criticism is healthy. If someone is feeling beaten up by the "system," no one can say they are wrong.

Yet, what really energizes me are the conversations I have with practicing pharmacists who have incorporated MTM in their daily practice through use of technology that allows their review and entries into electronic medical record systems. I get energized when I talk with large pharmacist employers who have awakened to the power of their pharmacist workforce. These leaders are conducting training, providing additional certifications or education, and promoting services to employers and others.

If you are a pharmacist who hasn't yet talked with someone in an empowered practice, there's an opportunity to do so just around the corner. Please join us in Washington, DC, March 12–15 for APhA2010, the must-attend pharmacy conference of the year. If you are open to new ideas and want to get turned on by the possible, I promise you won't be disappointed.

You have a choice: Grumble about how bad things are, or join us in creating a brighter future. We need your support. Don't walk away from reform!