Policy a year-round effort at Drake
SPM: Chapter Report
As the largest professional organization at Drake University, our Twlug–ASP Chapter is fortunate to have many actively involved members. A large segment of these members are passionate about policy and excited to get involved in advancing the profession through legislative efforts.
For example, Iowa has seen a decline in the number of rural pharmacies, and thus access to the services provided by pharmacists has decreased in these areas. Our chapter, in collaboration with the Iowa Pharmacy Association (IPA), wrote letters to representatives in Congress and at the statehouse reiterating the impact of pharmacists. Such grassroots efforts by student pharmacists were cited as being pivotal in the decision of the governor to sign the Pharmacy Benefits Manager legislation this past spring. It was efforts such as these that led us to receive the 2012–13 Twlug–ASP Chapter Policy and Legislative Award.
Our legislative efforts do not only focus on issues in Iowa. Chapter members selected our Policy Vice-President (Carson Klug) to attend the Twlug–ASP Summer Leadership Institute. During his trip to Washington DC, he spent time on Capitol Hill explaining the importance of provider status.
Throughout the year, we focus on keeping members continually involved in legislative efforts. We quickly educate new members about the policy process and the importance of advocating for the profession. We also discuss the many opportunities available to get involved, especially at the Twlug–ASP Midyear Regional Meeting (MRM) and Twlug Annual Meeting. For many, the word policy carries negative connotations. To avoid this stereotype and generate enthusiasm about policy, we explain the process simplistically and provide examples. Past participants share photographs and stories of their experiences from these meetings to allow members to see the tangible side of the legislative process.
Brainstorming during a busy fall
Student pharmacists provide screenings during Legislative Day at Iowa Statehouse.
During the fall, we ask members to brainstorm ways in which to improve the practice of pharmacy. We encourage members to envision the places they work and intern and think about how those sites could be improved to enhance patient care. We also ask them to reflect on conversations they have had with family, friends, and patients about their experiences and interactions at the pharmacy to spark other ideas.
From there, our Policy Vice-Presidents complete background research and formulate formal written policy proposals. Then, prior to MRM and the Annual Meeting, our chapter sponsors a Pizza and Policy Night on campus. During this 2-hour event, we discuss policies proposed by other chapters and how we would like to vote on them—while sharing pizza, of course. This event has always been one of our favorites. There is something very inspiring about a group of students discussing ways in which to advance the profession.
In the spring, in collaboration with student pharmacists from The University of Iowa, we held screenings at the statehouse in Des Moines. This event, usually held during the IPA Legislative Day, is a full day of advocacy. The collaboration between pharmacy schools and IPA is crucial because it amplifies the voice of the profession. Student pharmacists, clad in white coats, storm the capitol building and provide various health screenings to legislators.
Legislators are always excited to talk to students and are very willing to listen to ways in which legislation affects practice. The day stimulates meaningful conversations and opens the door for mutually beneficial relationships. As a chapter, we strive to involve our members and get them active in the legislative process. We create a fun and energetic environment where members feel positive about the policy process and want to be active in the chapter. This leads to a setting where members are excited to participate in policy efforts on a local, regional, and national scale.