Until we meet again

This is my final blog as CEO of APhA. My successor, Dr. Scott Knoer, will be officially sworn in on June 1, and my last day is May 31.

I “graduate” as APhA’s CEO in an unprecedented time of upheaval and uncertainty in the world. If you’ve read my blogs and editorials of the past, you know how often we speak of disruption leading to important innovations IF we fearlessly embrace change and use it to our advantage.

Usually these comments refer to advancements in treating chronic disease, evolving technology, and increasing team-based care and interprofessional collaboration. However, today, we must all pursue the innovation that can occur when we pharmacists unite to address this global health crisis together!

While this type of disruption is not exactly what we pictured, it could be the precursor to permanent disruption on a massive scale. We have the attention of the regulators and legislators, and the lives of literally every person on Earth have been profoundly disrupted by this pandemic.

This country needs us today more than ever to open the gates for broad COVID-19 screening, assessing, testing, support for development of treatment protocols, treatment, referral, follow-up, and acute frontline care of actively ill patients. And this country needs to provide coverage for all who need our care in the process!

You should feel good about how united pharmacy organizations are today. We’ve been on weekly video calls to stay aligned in our advocacy for change. Together we’ve pursued answers and solutions with FDA, CMS, HHS, Congress, and the administration. “Pharmacists” have been the subject of more regulatory guidances in the last few weeks than in our entire history!

That’s no accident. We can be grateful for the collective leadership and cohesiveness of a dozen pharmacy organizations working together, and you can add another 51 NASPA members on top of that. I extend a THANK YOU to my colleague CEOs, staff, and elected leaders for your willingness to collaborate these many years. We’re all better for it.

Can we stay united? Can we step up with innovative solutions that meet the public’s needs? We may be looking in the face of pharmacy’s ripest opportunity to demonstrate our value, perhaps of all time.

Yes, the professional issues that constrain our ability to operate at our best remain. Challenges to well-being and risk of burnout have increased. In the face of dwindling reimbursement, there are concerns that some pharmacy staff’s physical and mental needs may need more support.

Yet now is the best time in our history for disruptive innovation. Our possibilities are exciting, but we cannot take advantage of them if we don’t stick together and take care of each other.

Together, we’re making significant progress! To my colleague leaders, please continue to work together! To the pharmacists of America, of course you should support your national professional society, yet we must also support local, state, and national practice-specific organizations. All have a role to play! Keep showing up, keep saying yes, and be fearless about rejection!

C’mon man! We can do this.

Before I wrap up, I also want to share my pride in the amazing APhA senior staff, who have been tireless and amazingly innovative as our organization has successfully pivoted to all things virtual. And a high five to all staff for your resilience and tenacity in delivering value to our members. Finally, I thank all our elected and volunteer leaders for showing up and saying “yes” to service!