Pharmacists in Action, October 2014

What Pharmacists Are Doing Across the Country

American Pharmacists Month: It’s time to celebrate and advocate!

October is American Pharmacists Month, a time to celebrate our profession and the valuable contributions each of us makes to patient care and the health of our communities every day. The month-long celebration is also an opportunity to step up our advocacy.

Many of you are familiar with the American Pharmacists Month logo and slogan, “Know Your Pharmacist—Know Your Medicine.” This slogan is a great way to start a conversation highlighting the pharmacist’s value and role as the medication experts, along with the complexity of appropriate medication use.

For instance, we helped raise awareness when APhA, the House Community Pharmacy Caucus, the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, the National Community Pharmacists Association, and Walgreens hosted a health fair on Capitol Hill on September 17, just before American Pharmacists Month. Pharmacist volunteers at this event delivered multiple services to hundreds of Hill staffers and Members of Congress. Several pharmacies and schools of pharmacy in the Washington, DC, area provided invaluable time and support to showcase the services pharmacists are providing in their communities.

In your role as our profession’s advocates, October is the perfect time to raise awareness with patients, Members of Congress, and other decision makers about the value and importance of patient access to and coverage for the many patient care services you could provide if we were on the team. For more information on how to advocate for provider status, visit

We’ve made it easy for you to celebrate this special month. Share with others everything you do to ensure the safe and effective use of medications. Host an event or two. Visit APhA’s website for ideas on attracting media coverage, reaching out to your community, and using social media. Be sure to send any coverage, clips, or event photos from your celebrations to APhA at

Reach out to the local offices of your congressional representatives and invite them to your pharmacy or practice setting. If you are practicing on an interdisciplinary team, show it off! Election Day is coming up, and our politicians are often hungry for good publicity.

Finally, don’t forget that October 28 is National Pharmacy Technician Day. This day is dedicated to recognizing the invaluable contributions technicians make in all practice settings throughout the year.

From the Pharmacists Provide Care campaign to promoting team-based care, we have a lot to say. Let’s spread the news, beat the drums, and keep up the momentum! Show your pride in the profession. Your good work will benefit patients and ultimately, win the day on Capitol Hill!

Thomas E. Menighan, BSPharm, MBA, ScD (Hon), FAPhA, Executive VicePresident and CEO

Media vibe

During the month of August, APhA External Communications and Media Advisors responded to 15 media inquiries, including:

  • Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy study on how community pharmacist intervention can boost drug adherence and reduce health care costs
  • Nation’s Health: Rising role of pharmacists in public health
  • Drug Topics: APhA’s diabetes certificate training program; pharmacists and diabetes management
  • Wall Street Journal: Hydrocodone reclassification
  • Healthcare IT News: Hydrocodone reclassification


The number of Pharmacy Today’s Twitter followers. Last year at this time, Pharmacy Today had 234 Twitter followers.

A minute with … 

Melody Ryan, PharmD, MPH, BCPS, CGP, FCCP, FAPhA

Professor, Clinical Pharmacy Specialist Neurology

University of Kentucky, Lexington

I first became interested in being a pharmacist … after participating in a preprofessional summer workshop. It was called the Health Careers Opportunities Program, with the concept of promoting dentistry, medicine, and pharmacy as careers for rural or minority students.

I joined APhA because … I was a pharmacy student and wanted to get involved in the profession.

The advice I give to pharmacists who want to follow my career path … is to find what you love most in pharmacy and pursue it headlong.

If I weren’t a pharmacist, I’d be a … travel agent. I like to travel and enjoy planning the trips. I like helping my friends find the things in which they are most interested abroad.

People would be surprised to know that … I’ve visited 53 countries and six continents. My favorite areas include all the European microstates (Andorra, Lichtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, San Marino, and the Vatican) and Antarctica. My favorite place remains the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador.

Professionally I want to … connect our students to global pharmacy.

Members are talking about … 

The APhA Academy of Pharmacy Practice & Management (APhA–APPM) Medication Therapy Management (MTM) Special Interest Group (SIG) provides a forum for APhA members to discuss issues and share information about MTM services. Following are excerpts from a recent MTM SIG discussion about creating a clinical/MTM coordinator position:

A friend of mine has asked me for some advice on how to talk to his employer about creating a clinical/MTM coordinator position within his pharmacy chain. Does anyone have any experience on having to pitch/create this role?

I would advise your friend to seek the mission statement or goals of the pharmacy chain. Most likely, parts if not all of their goals can be mapped to components of MTM.

A pharmacy chain providing more clinical services differentiates itself in the marketplace from other competitors by improving its health promotion image.

APhA has an excellent MTM Resource Center/Library, MTM Central, on the website.

The APhA–APPM Immunization SIG provides a forum for APhA members to discuss issues and share information about immunizations. Following are excerpts from a recent Immunization SIG discussion about pharmacists as providers for the Vaccines for Children program:

Our independent pharmacies will be conducting an immunization screening event in conjunction with local student pharmacists. This will be the first organized mass Immunization Screening event we have held at our locations. I would like to gather information on best practices from other sites that have conducted such mass screenings.

You should first estimate how many people you expect. Always have more supply than you need—plenty of syringes, alcohol wipes, sharps containers, etc.

We’ve done flu shot days in the past. They work well with about two to three students at a time. I make them read the influenza recommendations in the MMWR in advance. At some point, I’ll have them observe me immunize (it’s still illegal for students to immunize personally in our state).

I would check out You can find a lot of helpful information there.

Visit to access APhA’s members-only APhA–APPM SIGs.

Did you know?

APhA has a long partnership with Healthcare Providers Service Organization (HPSO) to provide professional liability insurance to APhA members. Professional liability insurance is designed to protect your assets and cover your expenses if a malpractice suit is brought against you. This plan, administered by HPSO and underwritten by American Casualty Company of Reading, PA, a CNA Company, is designed to meet the unique needs of today’s pharmacy professionals and student pharmacists.

HPSO, in collaboration with CAN, offers a three-part report, 2013 Pharmacist Liability: A Ten-year Analysis. This report analyzes pharmacist malpractice claims over a 10-year period, which highlights the types of practice situations most likely to have serious adverse consequences for patients and create liability for pharmacy professionals. The report found that more than $14 million was paid in indemnity and expenses for professional liability claims on behalf of pharmacists during the 10-year study period.

Analysis revealed that professional liability claims were most likely to involve allegations that the pharmacist dispensed the wrong drug or wrong dose. Overdose was the most common patient injury for pharmacist closed claims. The full report also contains case scenarios and a self-assessment checklist.

Visit to download or read the full report.

For more information about the insurance program, please visit the Using Your APhA Benefits page on

Assessing the value at APhA2015

Networking, inspiration, and compelling education sessions are among the many reasons to attend the 2015 APhA Annual Meeting & Exposition. APhA2015 will be held March 27–30, 2015, in sunny San Diego. Join more than 6,500 of your pharmacy colleagues for an extended weekend of continuing education and fun!

Getting the value

Joseph Saseen, PharmD, BCACP, BCPS, Professor and Vice Chair, Department of Clinical Pharmacy, and Professor, Department of Family Medicine at the University of Colorado, will be speaking at APhA2015.  His session, “Confusing Cholesterol Management: Sorting Out the Truth,” adds value to the pharmacy community by providing more clarity on the uncertainties in treating cholesterol and lipid disorders.

Saseen noted that the most important takeaway from his session is for attendees to realize that the first step is taking a fundamental approach that implements evidence-based statin therapy in appropriate patients. This ranges from prescribing moderate-intensity to high-intensity statin therapy. He added that using a statin intensity–based approach leads to the most proven return on investment in reducing cardiovascular events in several patients.

Why it’s important to attend

Saseen’s session on cholesterol management is just one of more than 60 education sessions that will be offered at APhA2015. The sessions aim to teach participants ways to improve their practices and add value to their professional journey. Saseen noted that one of the values of attending the Annual Meeting is that it presents a rich opportunity to expand knowledge. He believes that the sessions and offerings are contemporary and in line with current needs.

Registration is open now. Visit us at today to save big by registering early.

Natosha McNeal, contributing writer

Federal pharmacy ceremony at APhA HQ

APhA hosted the promotion of federal pharmacy member and Navy pharmacist LCDR Heather Hellwig, PharmD, to CDR in the Federal Pharmacy Conference Room. “I am humbled and honored the Navy had the confidence in me to fill the responsibilities of a Commander and to help further the pharmacy profession and improve patient care,” said CDR Hellwig.

U.S. Navy pharmacist CDR Heather Hellwig, PharmD, celebrates her promotion with her parents, Glen and Wendy Hellwig. 

She is currently stationed as Acting Director at Fort Belvoir Community Hospital in Virginia, a joint U.S. Department of Defense facility, but starting in October she will serve as Pharmacy Director at the CAPT James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center, a combined Veterans Health Administration and Navy facility at Naval Station Great Lakes in North Chicago.

Army pharmacist LTC Eric Maroyka, PharmD, officiated the ceremony. “It is unusual for an Army officer to promote a Navy officer, but I asked LTC Maroyka because I consider him to be one of the best pharmacy officers and mentors whom I have served with in my career,” said CDR Hellwig. “He has inspired me to actively participate with professional associations such as APhA and the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists to promote the profession globally, learn, and share with each other, for a common cause.”

CDR Hellwig’s parents, Glen and Wendy Hellwig from Wisconsin; her brother, a former U.S. Naval Academy graduate and U.S. Marine officer; and officers and enlisted pharmacy and hospital staff members from Fort Belvoir Community Hospital and Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Washington DC, attended the ceremony.