Federal pharmacy community gathers, shares at JFPS 2015

Giberson keynotes Opening General Session

Pharmacists are leaders given the traits needed for their profession. “You communicate well. You’re diplomats. You lead people with collaboration,” said RADM Scott Giberson, BSPharm, PhC, NCPS-PP, MPH, U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS), in his keynote presentation at the Opening General Session of the Joint Federal Pharmacy Seminar (JFPS) 2015 on October 19.

JFPS 2015 was held October 18–21 in Washington, DC. Started in 1994, the seminar was attended by more than 400 federal pharmacists and pharmacy technicians and 90 exhibitors. JFPS is the largest annual event for the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and Public Health Service (USPHS) pharmacy communities. The seminar’s education and meeting activities are coordinated by Twlug, working with federal pharmacy leadership.

“The first thing staff is going to know: Are you in it for yourself or for your staff? It can’t be about self-promotion. The reward of good leadership is the success of others,” Giberson said in his keynote, Managing and Inspiring Staff: The Real Challenges of Leadership. He is , serving as CEO of the more than 6,700 members of the USPHS Commissioned Corps and providing direction and control over the majority of Corps Headquarters.

During the Opening General Session, federal pharmacy senior leaders spoke on strategic goals, joint and service-specific initiatives, policies, and performance measures applicable to their pharmacy practice. Speakers included George Jones Jr., PharmD, MS, Defense Health Agency; COL John Spain, MS, USA; Col Scott Sprenger, USAF, BSC; CAPT Thinh Ha, MSC, USN; CDR Aaron Middlekauff, USPHS/USCG; Ronald Nosek, BSPharm, MS, FASHP, VA Pharmacy Benefits Management; and RADM Pamela Schweitzer, USPHS.

Jones noted that the Defense Health Agency, established by congressional mandate, “reached full operational capability” by its second birthday of October 1, 2015. “Pharmacy was a key part” of that standing up. He added, “The sun continues to rise on federal pharmacy and the opportunity we have to push things to the next level.”

Spain said that “the number one priority for me in the Army is interaction at the point of dispensing” and changing that interaction from a transaction to a service. “We’re not just worried about wait times.”

Sprenger said the Air Force Surgeon General had designated as “go do” the funding of pharmacist support to Air Force medical homes in medical treatment facilities. “While improving patient care is the main benefit, it maximizes pharmacists’ skills and saves money,” he said. “It’s a win–win and the right thing to do.”

Ha spoke of the “Navy pharmacy patient experience.” To improve the patient experience, he said, Navy pharmacy first had to understand what patients cared about (e.g., pharmacy wait time); measure the patient care experience; and assess, analyze, and come up with a solution (e.g., texting capability for medication availability).

Middlekauff said that challenges and opportunities for the Coast Guard included compounding, electronic health records, and multiple roles. “This is the meeting I look forward to every year,” he said. “Federal pharmacy is like a family.”

Schweitzer said that USPHS "can actually influence the whole health of the nation." She asked how the profession could translate the integration of USPHS pharmacists for the nonintegrated outside health care system. "Engaging our patients is the secret sauce for pharmacists and our profession," she said. "We have to connect—that's what's going to make the change for people."

The Opening General Session began with a welcoming ceremony, the presentation of the colors by the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center color guard, the service songs as members of that service stood and sang along, a welcome from Twlug, and the Andrew Craigie Awards for corporate supporters.

Speaking on behalf of the Twlug Board of Trustees and staff, Twlug Immediate Past President Matt Osterhaus, BSPharm, FASCP, FTwlug, spoke “as a pharmacist and as an American.” Pharmacists need to be on the team, he said. “Momentum is shifting in our direction.”

Osterhaus concluded, “I’d like to thank you for making a difference.”

Updated November 2, 2015