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APhA CEO Blog

A note to Allison: Great work on health care reform!

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February 12, 2010

(The below e-mail message was sent to Allison Wiley, one of our dedicated Government Affairs staffers, by Julie Stading of Creighton University. Following that is a message I sent to Dr. Stading after Kristina Lunner, our VP of Government Affairs, told me about this great feedback.)

Allison,

I wanted to send a personal e-mail to encourage you to continue with your efforts. It was not until this current situation with health care reform that I realized that APhA is really the main pharmacy organization that is taking consistent action to push for pharmacy as a part of the health care reform. The other organizations that I belong to talk about it, but APhA is taking action... regularly. Again, thank you for all your efforts... it is noticed!

Julie

My response:

Hi Julie,

Thanks for your kind note to Allison Wiley regarding APhA's advocacy. If you'll indulge me, I'd like to share a story.

I first became involved with APhA as a student, although in those early, formative days of Student APhA, I really didn't make the connection between our school's chapter and anything "big picture." After I graduated, like many of my peers I got immersed in life, building a family, and launching a practice. I wasn't really involved in any organizations, until Frank McClendon invited me to a local association meeting and Harvey Barton, another Huntington, WV, pharmacist, started talking with us about our myriad opportunities. The three of us are still friends and business partners in a home infusion and specialty practice we own in Huntington. From the local association, I got involved in the state association, and in 1984, my first interface with APhA "national," I was invited to make presentations on home infusion practice. In 1986, I was offered a job at APhA, which I accepted. Joe McGlothlin joined me as a partner in my Medicine Shoppe, and I moved my family to Washington for my first first day on the job with APhA 23 years ago on February 2, 1987.

What struck me about APhA back then was that they (now "we") were for things, rather than against things. I first saw the organization through the eyes of Steve Crawford, a West Virginian, former APhA President, and practice innovator, and Tim Covington, a West Virginia University faculty member at the time and an innovator in community pharmacy residencies. From my vantage point, they and APhA in general always seemed to be looking forward, reaching for something better, working hard to learn from their leaders, and sharing those learnings with their members. As a young staffer back then, my initial impressions were validated, first by Jack Schlegel, the APhA CEO who hired me, and then during the ensuing 20 Gans years. I've been privileged to learn from these two, as well as from hundreds of others whom I've met over the years who share our passion for innovation and lifelong learning.

My tenure as exec is dedicated to making a difference and providing opportunities for pharmacists to contribute to excellent patient care by practicing as they've been trained. We do that, because that's what we hear from our members that they want. We continue to be for things, whether in our work on Capitol Hill to advance our agenda, or with CMS or managed care, where we're trying to maintain the MTM momentum.

In just 4 weeks, when 7,000 folks convene in Washington for our Annual Meeting, I'll spend 18 hours each day talking with really energized and positive practitioners and students who are excited about our profession. That exercise should be exhausting, yet I'm always pumped and filled with new ideas at meetings' end. I just wish more pharmacists took advantage of the opportunity.

I doubt you realize how important your encouragement is to staffers who work on pharmacy's behalf. Thanks again for taking the time to do so.

Best regards,

Tom