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Chaos or a symphony in the making?
Roger Selvage 213

Chaos or a symphony in the making?

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Association Perspective

Michael D. Hogue, PharmD, FAPhA, FNAP, FFIP, EVP and CEO of APhA

Dr. Michael Hogue, PharmD, FAPhA, FNAP, FFIP Executive vice president and CEO of APhA

Recently, I attended a performance of the musical Moulin Rouge at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC. As we got comfortable in our seats, the audience buzzing about the theater, I could hear the instrumentalists from the orchestra warming up their instruments.

The cacophony made absolutely no sense—there wasn’t a melody, they weren’t running scales together—just playing and making noise. And the crowd in the theatre was attempting to carry on hundreds of conversations over the tuning of the instruments. As the crowd built, so did the chaos of the noise. This went on for about 15 minutes or so before everything went silent, and then moments later the curtain was raised.

Those very same musicians who didn’t seem to be in unison were suddenly playing beautiful music together, which wouldn’t be denied its crescendo! It was a fantastic, relaxing evening.

For someone watching our profession from the sidelines, it might seem that there is nothing but chaos happening in pharmacy and health care. But I know what is happening. Pharmacy is warming its instruments, and even inventing new ones that haven’t been played before. External pressures and forces largely out of pharmacists’ control such as staffing models, payment systems, and laws and regulations are all in need of a serious tune up, and are growing louder in an attempt to drown out the voice of the pharmacist.

But pharmacists will not be denied—our calling is to care for patients across the entire health care system. We won’t stop practicing and tuning and adjusting to do our best by our patients—even if the forces and sounds around us are sometimes deafening.

At the annual meetings of the National Community Pharmacists Association and Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy, I’ve been inspired by the stories of pharmacists with incredible hope, and I’ve also heard of dramatic challenges that are threatening to destroy our profession.

Sometimes corporations make business decisions and engage in business practices that none of us like—and yet despite that, the pharmacist stays true to the patient. Pharmacists get up every day, no matter the practice setting, with the goal of helping patients get the best use of medicines. And this is fundamentally the sound of hope ringing out. Our patients deserve our focused attention no matter how loud the noise gets around us.

Am I concerned about the current practice environment and the negative forces facing our profession? Absolutely, and we’ll fight those forces every day. Why? Because I know that shortly silence will come, the curtain will rise, and the most beautiful symphony–that of pharmacists practicing at the top of their training with full scope, properly supported with well-trained staff, and compensated based upon the quality of care provided—is about to be heard.

Keep fighting. Keep the faith. We are right beside you. For every pharmacist. For all of pharmacy. ■



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