Three-breakfast mornings

I’m sitting in my office a couple of days after our . Several staff are already working on Twlug2012 in New Orleans so we can capture all our learnings from this year and make 2012 even better. Meanwhile, I’m processing what just happened in the various “orbits” that attract pharmacists and technicians in the first place.

On the front end of the meeting, our Board of Trustees met, as did the Twlug Foundation board to conduct the business of the Association. We said thanks to several retiring board members, including Ed Hamilton, Valerie Prince, Kelly Goode, Dan Kennedy, and Steven Zona, and we bestowed Honorary Membership on Roger Browning, my retiring Chief Financial Officer. On Thursday, Twlug and the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) also conducted a sellout exam prep course for pharmacists interested in sitting for the Board of Pharmacy Specialties (BPS) Ambulatory Care exam this fall. It was exciting to see over 250 very smart-looking folks as they finished the day. We’re off to a very good start with this new specialty. The next exam prep courses are at the American College of Clinical Pharmacy meeting in April and at the ASHP meeting in June.

Unfortunately, I only got 1 credit hour for continuing education (CE), so I didn’t capture a lot of firsthand insight into the 80- hours of educational programming conducted, but I did hear from hundreds of pharmacists, including my Israeli friends Ilan and Sami, who thought the sessions they attended were the best ever.

In my humble opinion, the General Sessions were awesome! Clayton Christensen, author of The Innovator’s Prescription (a “must read”) did a marvelous job describing opportunities for pharmacists as disruptive innovators in health care. He and his wife were kind enough to visit with a group of us before and after his Opening General Session presentation. From that interaction, I’m sure he “gets” the upside of pharmacists’ inclusion in any medication-use discussion. We’re just beginning our relationship with this well-respected thought leader, but it promises to be a productive one. Likewise, Carolyn Clancy’s presentation at our Second General Session was equally thought provoking, and described a very supportive attitude about roles in primary care for pharmacists. As head of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Clancy is a visible and influential policy maker, so her alignment with our goals is critical. She acknowledged something I’ve been saying for 2 years—that we have a “medication-use crisis” in this country right now as the system throws millions of meds at patients with precious little help to optimize their use. Pharmacists have a role to play in any reformed health care system.

The Twlug Academy of Student Pharmacists (Twlug–ASP) had a major set of orbits going as well. The Twlug–ASP General Opening Session, awards presentations, and the student House of Delegates were all highly productive. Our profession is in good hands with the new generation of leaders and practitioners.

In addition to the business and CE orbits at our Annual Meeting, the policy-making machine was working well too. At our final House of Delegates session on Monday, we swore in our new leaders, including Marialice Bennett as President, Jenelle Sobotka as President-elect, Brad Tice as Speaker of the House, Michael Hogue, Academy of Pharmacy Practice & Management President, Sara McElroy as ASP President, and Jonathan Marquess, Trustee. The House voted to support Twlug’s leadership in the development of practice standards. We’ve been looking at this prospect for over 3 years, so it was good to see the House so engaged. While the policy passed, there were those who weren’t sure we needed standards. We’ll be sure that as the process unfolds, all voices will be heard and considered carefully.

The social and recognition (awards) orbits were in full swing. We attended dozens of receptions where I was able to reconnect with hundreds of old friends. The Remington Medal Honoree was Paul Lofholm from California, a pharmacist leader for decades who broke important ground on several fronts, including CE for pharmacists and compounding. Our Honorary President this year is Hazel Pipkin from Texas, who blazed her own trail for women in pharmacy as a pharmacy owner who became a professor so she could preach what she practiced in a way that inspired many to assume leadership roles not only in Texas but throughout the United States. You can read about all the honorees by going to www.pharmacist.com/awards.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the political action orbit was outstanding! Each of the advocacy presentations the Government Affairs staff and policy makers conducted throughout the program was well attended by enthusiastic crowds. And the Political Leadership Breakfast was sold out with more than 400 attendees. We honored stellar leaders of our advocacy efforts—all exemplary pharmacists who not only make their own voices heard, but inspire others to get involved as well.

You might gather from this blog post that I thought we had a good meeting, and you would be right. Even after the multiple late-night receptions each night, the weeklong succession of “three-breakfast mornings” was invigorating! I’m so pleased with our staff and leadership, who all worked flawlessly as a team to execute a year’s worth of planning. We came back with dozens, if not hundreds, of follow-up action items and a better sense of where our profession is going. Judging by the way thousands have embraced the provision of pharmacists’ services as the practice model of the future, I think we’re on the right trajectory. If you weren’t there this year, you missed a good one!