Celebrating pharmacists’ patient care services: APhM 2015

American Pharmacists Month across the country

American Pharmacists Month (APhM), which takes place each October, gives the public a valuable opportunity to better understand the many ways in which pharmacists care for patients. The theme, “Know Your Pharmacist—Know Your Medicine,” encourages patients to develop personal relationships with their pharmacist. This year, APhM events took place across the nation and included proclamations, pharmacy visits, outreach projects, and health fairs! Below are just a few examples of how APhM was celebrated by pharmacists, student pharmacists, and APhA. 

Recognition from governors, Congress

Gov. David Y. Ige of Hawaii issued a proclamation to the Hawaii Pharmacists Association, recognizing October as APhM and asking citizens of the state to join him in “recognizing the valuable services of the pharmacists and pharmacy technicians who work in inpatient, outpatient, home care, and long-term care settings and all they do to help patients make the best use of their medicines.”

Throughout the country, many governors joined Ige in issuing official proclamations, including Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland and Gov. Susana Martinez of New Mexico, who urged citizens to recognize the valuable services of pharmacists. 

Rep. Buddy Carter (R-GA), BSPharm, was busy advocating for the profession during the special month. On October 7, he gave a speech on the floor of the House of Representatives, recognizing APhM; video is available at http://buddycarter.house.gov/videogallery/. On October 20, he was set to lead a special hour-long discussion on the House floor to cover the topics of provider status and MAC (maximum allowable cost) pricing. 

Sen. Robert P. Casey Jr. (D-PA) stopped by DePietro’s Pharmacy, located in Dunmore, PA. Owner Thomas R. DePietro, PharmD, told the Association that Casey visited his pharmacy on October 9 to celebrate APhM. “During this visit, we had the opportunity to talk about the importance of community pharmacy,” DePietro wrote in an e-mail. “We also talked about provider status, pharmacy compounding, and medication adherence.”

Rep. Robin Kelly (D-IL), chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Health Braintrust, released a statement in recognition of APhM. “Community pharmacists know their patients not just as customers or names on a prescription, but as neighbors and friends,” wrote Kelly. “Over the last 25 years, as pharmacies have expanded to provide a wide range of patient-oriented services, American pharmacists have taken on the critical role of community health ambassadors providing education services, immunizations, and vaccinations. In fact, last month I held the Congressional Black Caucus Health Braintrust’s first-ever Community Health Clinic, where local pharmacists volunteered and provided hepatitis C screenings. For the vital role they play in patient care and health education efforts and for their invaluable partnership with physicians in creating a healthier America, I thank the many pharmacists throughout the nation this American Pharmacists Month.”

Student pharmacists shine

On October 2, the APhA Academy of Student Pharmacists (APhA–ASP) Chapter at Touro College of Pharmacy in New York organized a Media Day event in collaboration with student pharmacists representing St. John’s University College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, Long Island University Arnold & Marie Schwartz College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, Wilkes University Nesbitt School of Pharmacy, Fairleigh Dickinson University School of Pharmacy, and Rutgers University Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy. The group appeared on NBC’s “Today” show wearing white coats and holding banners promoting APhM.

Students at University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy created a YouTube video explaining what pharmacists do and encouraging patients to get to know their pharmacist to maximize their health.

Three University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences College of Pharmacy student pharmacists, including a former Miss Arkansas, Kristen Glover Belew, appeared on ABC television to discuss APhM activities and to demonstrate the administration of the influenza vaccine. The current Miss Arkansas, Loren McDaniel, also appeared on the show and was given her influenza immunization by the former Miss Arkansas.

At the University of Charleston School of Pharmacy, month-long events included supporting Medicine Bottles for Malawi, which provides Malawi’s rural hospitals and villages with recycled medicine bottles to keep their medicines clean, out of reach of children, and safe to use. 

In Pennsylvania, the Wilkes University APhA–ASP Chapter celebrated APhM by hosting a health fair at the student center every Tuesday in October. The health fair featured presentations from Wilkes student pharmacists on a variety of topics, such as heart health, blood pressure, smoking, and poison control. 

Marshall University School of Pharmacy hosted a luncheon featuring keynote speaker Kenneth M. Hale, BSPharm, PhD, clinical professor in the College of Pharmacy at Ohio State University and founder of the APhA–ASP Generation Rx initiative, a national educational outreach relating to medication safety and prescription drug misuse prevention.

The University of Louisiana at Monroe School of Pharmacy chapter of APhA–ASP partnered with Xavier University of Louisiana College of Pharmacy to launch a statewide educational campaign about the medical needs of Louisiana and how Louisiana pharmacists are making a difference. Throughout October, the University of Louisiana at Monroe School of Pharmacy used Facebook and Twitter to share articles and facts and to encourage students and pharmacists to make a difference in patients’ care. 

APhA activities

In September, the APhA Foundation launched its annual Pharmacists Care Campaign, a public awareness and fundraising campaign to support its mission to improve people’s health through pharmacists’ patient care services. Nearly 450 lawn signs with the names and logos of individuals and corporations participating in the campaign (or those they honored) were placed on the lawn of APhA headquarters the third week of October. 

On October 28, many more influenza vaccinations, as well as health screenings to include blood glucose, bone density, cholesterol, and blood pressure, were set to be given by pharmacists and student pharmacists as part of an annual health fair on Capitol Hill, showcasing the profession’s skills. 

APhA staff participated in numerous events and activities throughout the month, including a blood drive for Children’s National Medical Center scheduled for October 28. Staff also wore red for APhA Wears Red Day. 

Taking to Twitter: #pharmacist

On October 1, pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, and student pharmacists took to Twitter for the third annual Pharmacist Tweet-a-Thon to highlight the patient care provided by pharmacists. “#pharmacist” was the number one trending health care tag on Twitter that day, and more than 6,100 tweets were posted. Here’s a sampling of the tweets:

  • We recently helped a diabetes patient adjust her insulin pump settings to get better control of her blood sugar!

  • As an ambulatory care pharmacist, I’ve helped identify a patient in hypertensive urgency, preventing long-term damage.

  • In a charitable pharmacy setting, I’ve helped uninsured patients access valuable smoking cessation products to help them quit.

  • Working on several drug shortages and providing alternative recommendations to nurses and physicians.

  • Planning a health fair at a local pharmacy!

  • As a pharmacist, I’ve taught my patients 
how to safely use sulfonylureas to minimize hypoglycemia risk.

  • During a medication review, I caught a patient taking a prescription NSAID as well as an OTC NSAID unknowingly.

  • I denied a lady from getting her narcs early. 
After rehab she’s off the drugs and SHE 
THANKED ME for standing up to her.