Advocating for the future
Throughout history, pharmacists have contributed to improved patient health and wellness. Duties that were performed by apothecaries of antiquity are just as important today as they were 4,000 years ago. When comparing the past to the present, it is clear that the duties of pharmacists in modern society are changing at an unfathomable rate. As the next generation, student pharmacists must do everything they can to ensure that the definition of the duties of today’s pharmacist is understood. Advocating for the profession has become a critical component in today’s changing health care landscape, which led the Wayne State University Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences Twlug–ASP Chapter to develop a new initiative called Students Collaborating on Policy and Advocacy (SCOPA).
A guide for students
Our chapter members realized there was an immediate need to engage in advocacy, since they were unaware of their potential multi-level impact. The goal of SCOPA is to strengthen the ability of student pharmacists to advocate for the profession and to relay the essential roles of a pharmacist to the community. SCOPA emerged as a guide for students to see exactly how the policy process works and to become involved with advocacy efforts.
A question that is often Chapter is, “What is the connection between SCOPA and the role of the Policy Vice President?” Our vision for SCOPA is to provide a platform that focuses on student education, which frees up time for the Policy Vice President to research local programs, organize events, and become an expert on all current legislaton that affect pharmacy. As student advocates, our power is in our numbers, so by giving the Policy Vice President more time to focus on executing these activities, the impact increases monumentally.
Some student pharmacists are hesitant to take on an advocacy role. This could be due to a plethora of reasons, but history has shown that this role has not always been given the high priority it deserves. As the profession continues to battle for provider status, we hope SCOPA will light a fire under student pharmacists and encourage them to join the fight.
Our chapter began transitioning into the policy and advocacy realm last year during our Wellness Warriors campaign, where we provided cholesterol screenings, blood glucose testing, body mass indices, and counseling in collaboration with University Pharmacy, an independent pharmacy on campus, for more than 1,000 patients. We took steps to increase our role in advocacy by inviting state representatives to participate in our Wellness Warriors operation. This allowed state politicians who didn’t know much about the practice of pharmacy to learn about a pharmacist’s role in patient care activities to improve health and wellness.
Michigan State Rep. Klint Kesto (second from left) joins Wayne State student pharmacists at a recent chapter event.
In the coming year, we have plans to invite more local and state politicians to our events and demonstrate that we don’t simply “count, lick, and stick.” This is just the beginning of what is to come from SCOPA.
More battles, more action
Although provider status is currently one of the largest initiatives for pharmacists today, it is not the only one. There are many other issues that simply cannot be overlooked. To receive support from the community, pharmacists need to show the public what defines them as providers and why they are necessary members of the health care team.
There is a vast pool of student pharmacists on our campus who are already passionate about their profession, but lack knowledge about the current issues that pharmacists are facing in the health care world. By educating future pharmacists about the issues at hand, we hope to broaden the spectrum of thought to include medication therapy management, the reasons behind the evolution of the practice of pharmacy, and its importance for the future.