Stars, stripes, and pharmacy: Joint Federal Pharmacy Seminar 2015

This year, I had the privilege and honor to rub elbows with my federal pharmacy colleagues at the Joint Federal Pharmacy Seminar (JFPS) 2015. This is the largest annual event for the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and Public Health Service (USPHS) pharmacy communities.

APhA, working with federal pharmacy leadership, coordinated the seminar’s education and meeting activities.

We had a great turnout this year. Several hundred federal pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, and exhibitors attended the event.

I had the honor of attending the Signature event, with the theme of “Collaborating for a Brighter Future.” Held on a cold evening at a hotel near the Potomac River, I met and talked with JFPS attendees, including future leaders who are working and resolving the challenges in federal pharmacy.

The Federal Chiefs from the Defense Health Agency, Army, Navy, Air Force, VA, USPHS, and Coast Guard provided a much-anticipated presentation about progress, vision, challenges, and opportunities in their respective areas. Speakers included George Jones Jr., PharmD, MS, Defense Health Agency; COL John Spain, MS, USA; Col Scott Sprenger, USAF, BSC; CAPT Thinh Ha, MSC, USN; CDR Aaron Middlekauff, USPHS/USCG; Ronald Nosek, BSPharm, MS, FASHP, VA Pharmacy Benefits Management; and RADM Pamela Schweitzer, USPHS.

The speakers made numerous nods to collaborative efforts with APhA. RADM Schweitzer highlighted the importance of teamwork among federal pharmacists and APhA to advance the pharmacy profession. She talked about pharmacist collaboration efforts in areas such as limited drug distribution/specialty pharmacies, immunizations, and the provider status initiative.

Jones, from the Defense Health Agency, noted that the agency, established by congressional mandate, “reached full operational capability” by its second birthday of October 1, 2015. “Pharmacy was a key part” of that standing up. He added, “The sun continues to rise on federal pharmacy and the opportunity we have to push things to the next level.”

All of us in health care are public health leaders, and federal pharmacy serves as a model for strengthening the health care system infrastructure. RADM Scott Giberson, BSPharm, PhC, NCPS-PP, MPH, from the USPHS, picked up on the theme of leadership during his keynote presentation at the Opening General Session. He told attendees that pharmacists are leaders given the traits needed for their profession. “You communicate well. You’re diplomats. You lead people with collaboration,” he said.

Speaking on behalf of the APhA Board of Trustees and staff, APhA Immediate Past President Matt Osterhaus, BSPharm, FASCP, FAPhA, spoke “as a pharmacist and as an American.” Pharmacists need to be on the team, he said. “Momentum is shifting in our direction.”

Visit to read more about JFPS 2015.