Power in numbers at ‘Pharmacist Central’



A few months ago I was clicking through my inbox filled with seemingly endless e-mails and this one caught my eye: “Greetings! The Alliance for Pharmacist Provided Patient Care is recruiting volunteers—pharmacists and student pharmacists—to help educate policymakers during the National Conference of State Legislatures’ (NCSL) Legislative Summit. The meeting will be held August 20 to 22 in Minneapolis, MN, this year and we need your help!”

I immediately signed myself up because I knew this was a huge opportunity for pharmacists to showcase their skills to a group of policymakers—the people with the power to enact needed reforms for the profession.

Alliance in action  

The Alliance for Pharmacist Provided Patient Care is a consortium of six national pharmacy organizations—Twlug, the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy, the American College of Clinical Pharmacy, the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, the National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations, and the National Association of Chain Drug Stores. The organizations work together to educate the general public and policymakers about the pharmacist’s role in improving patient outcomes. The 2014 NCSL Legislative Summit was an opportunity for the Alliance to share information about the profession with state legislators and their staff. The Alliance highlighted the fact that pharmacists are the nation’s mediation experts, are recognized as some of the most trusted health professionals, can guide patients to achieve the best results from their medications, and are capable of improving health and lowering costs when included on health care teams.

These key points were not communicated through a speech or a pamphlet; we took a different route and showed the legislators our stuff! Through a health screening boothdubbed “Pharmacist Central,”volunteers provided patient counseling, as well as cholesterol, glucose, and blood pressure screenings. After patients went to all stations, they left the booth with a complete “patient report card.”

Booth advocates

I got to help showcase these services by taking blood pressures. More than one booth participant expressed to me that they did not know pharmacists could perform a blood pressure screening and that they were impressed. We explained to them that they could receive services such as blood pressure and other screenings at their local pharmacy. It was such a meaningful experience to teach legislators about this expanded clinical role.

Other booth advocates enjoyed similar experiences. “After discussing comprehensive medication management, [an attendee] asked to have an impromptu medication review. I identified three drug therapy problems. That experience showed the value of comprehensive medication management services and the need to further expand these services since this individual did not have access to such a service in her home state,” said Kaitlin Yost, PharmD.

Twlug Associate Director of Health Policy Michael H Ghobrial, PharmD, JD, explained the significance of interactions like Yosts’. “The Legislatures’ Summit offered our profession a great opportunity to interact with state lawmakers. Our booth’s advocates enabled us to showcase the wide variety of services that pharmacists deliver daily to their patients,” Ghorbrial said.

Keep on advocating

Events such as this one are important in the quest for provider status. As elected leaders are asked to recognize pharmacists as providers, pharmacists must be advocates for the profession. Education and training prepare pharmacists to provide a plethora of services to patients. This means showing legislators first-hand what pharmacists can do and speaking up to make the profession’s collective voice heard. Elected officials want to hear what pharmacists have to say and the result can lead to legislation favorable to the profession.

Minnesota pharmacists and student pharmacists answered the call (and the e-mail). They were so eager to volunteer at the summit that they filled every volunteer slot. Going forward, remember that there is power in numbers. Get your chapter and nearby chapters to organize events to showcase your skills as pharmacists so legislators can see for themselves that pharmacists provide care.