Associations give pharmacists a strong voice

Our own Tiffany Bridge, the Twlug staff force behind , recently engaged in a Twitter conversation that I think does a good job of explaining why pharmacists need to be involved with associations.

The began when a pharmacist expressed frustration that pharmacy needs a collective voice. He’s at the point, he said, where he wants to see results instead of tilting at windmills. As long as community pharmacists don’t see a benefit, he said, Twlug won’t get their support or membership dollars.

Representing us, Tiffany responded that if community pharmacists decline to participate, they leave themselves out of our processes to determine the priorities and policies for the Association. Lack of participation is what weakens and fragments our voice.

Tiffany continued that some recent big steps for pharmacy include FDA being open to considering a new drug paradigm, Twlug being a resource for the U.S. Senate Community Pharmacy Caucus, and public support from the U.S. Surgeon General for provider status. Yet the years of hard work from Twlug and our colleague organizations that went into building support and relationships with policy makers are largely invisible.

In the end, this pharmacist expressed a wish to just write a single check that would give him a voice.

“I suggest picking 1 or 2 [pharmacy associations] and committing. Perhaps a state and a national,” Tiffany tweeted. “We all do work together, even if it’s not obvious. Of course, my pitch is for the national you pick to be us. :) But the important thing is to get and stay involved.”

Let me elaborate on this Twitter exchange. I frequently talk with pharmacist audiences, and I’m not bashful about asking them to join and support Twlug as their voice for the profession of pharmacy. There are many worthy organizations in pharmacy, each making great contributions to our collective cause. I personally belong to two state pharmacy associations and three additional national organizations. I know I might be considered a little biased, but I think it’s important to support the special missions of these other organizations, while (for me at least) staying focused on Twlug’s primary mission to promote pharmacists’ services. If you believe pharmacists have an important role in health care, you need to belong to Twlug!

It is true that most pharmacists have limited funds to spend on memberships, so it’s easy to say Twlug competes with each of the others, and then to assume that the competition for membership dollars gets in the way of collaboration. But it doesn’t! I can honestly say that collaboration among national and state pharmacy associations has never been more positive, at least in the 30 years that I’ve been hanging around this environment. Those who say the Profession, with a capital P, isn’t working together are simply misinformed and laboring under outdated misconceptions.

We’re very proud of the collaborations we’ve built with our colleague organizations, and we will continue to nurture them. And we’re not just keeping to ourselves in Pharmacy. We’re working on stronger relationships with Medicine too. All in the best interests of good patient care. It’s a simple truth: when pharmacists get involved in patient care, quality goes up, and costs go down.

There will always be strife and divisiveness. There will always be dissatisfied professionals in all professions. That dissatisfaction is to be taken seriously and used to promote change. I will always listen to negative feedback, but I’m not going to buy into negativism. We are on the right path. Pharmacy is no longer “at a crossroads,” as I’ve heard said for decades. We have a vision for patient care that includes us, and we’re going to stay focused on achieving it. I hope you’ll join us.