The future of pharmacy: APhA is at the table

Promoting the pharmacy profession is one of the cornerstones of APhA. We have put a lot of energy and time into the provider status initiative over the last 4 years, and our efforts are showing significant signs of progress! But I wanted to share with you some of the other ways APhA supports and advances the role of the pharmacist. Here are a few examples.

APhA, along with many of the other major national pharmacist associations and pharmacy trade associations, joined an Affordable Care Act (ACA) Roundtable with Obama administration and CMS officials. This year’s roundtable discussion centered on improving access to, and uptake of, preventive health services by insured individuals and targeting outreach to populations/regions with high uninsured rates. This is an area pharmacists can have an impact. APhA will continue its efforts to influence the decision process and will provide members with updates on the Obama administration’s ACA efforts as open enrollment begins in the fall.

Pharmacists have important roles to play in emergency and disaster response in coordination with community efforts. APhA participated in the U.S. Department of Defense’s U.S. North Command’s Pandemic Influenza and Infectious Disease Response Tabletop Exercise in Colorado Springs. APhA and FedEx were the only civilian organizations included in the exercise. The exercise included three scenarios: two aerosolized anthrax attacks in Miami and Baltimore, and pneumonic plaque of unknown origin occurring within days of each other. The goals of the exercise were to synchronize plans, processes, and procedures with biological response plans, and to validate and refine medication countermeasure distribution roles and responsibilities during large-scale biological situations in our country.

APhA continues to advocate for pharmacists’ ability to make professional judgment decisions while recognizing the importance of professional responsibility. In May, the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals ruled that people with drug addictions can sue pharmacists, physicians, and other dispensers and prescribers of pain medications for contributing to their addiction and criminal activity. The idea that pharmacists could be legally accountable for enabling drug abusers is both a red flag and an opportunity for pharmacists. The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy convened the Controlled Substances Stakeholders in Chicago. Comprising pharmacy and medical associations/organizations, wholesalers, and pharmaceutical companies, this stakeholder group is focused on finding mechanisms for better coordination and collaboration among pharmacists and physicians to combat prescription drug abuse. A significant portion of the meeting was spent discussing tools and resources that could help physicians and pharmacists to address potential abuse problems. Collaboration among health care providers and regulators is crucial as we strive to serve patients with legitimate needs and address a societal crisis.

It is no secret that I am passionate about education and the issues that face the next generation of pharmacists. Recently, I took part in Sigma Chi Foundation’s Distinguished Visitors program, which is conducted at the fraternity’s Balfour Leadership Training Workshop. The weekend was instructive for me, and introduced me to some new leadership training ideas. I also participated in a strategic planning exercise for the McWhorter School of Pharmacy at Samford University in Alabama. These exercises allowed me to evaluate other planning processes and to think about what our schools of pharmacy are facing, and how to address the needs of young practitioners.

I also had the privilege of participating in five commencements and served as the keynote speaker at several White Coat Ceremonies at colleges of pharmacy across the country. These are opportunities for me to listen and to be sure new and emerging pharmacists know we’re there for them throughout their careers, as they move from student to new practitioners and seasoned veterans.

APhA continues to be actively involved in events, meetings, and initiatives that are shaping the future of pharmacy. Help us help you take advantage of new opportunities by sharing your perspectives.  To learn more about what we’ve been up to and to provide your perspective, visit