Make a difference


Mitchel C. Rothholz presents an Twlug Immunization Champion Award to Maria Young at Twlug2015.

Early in my career, one of my mentors told me, “Whatever you do in your career and in life, find something that drives your passion and make a difference.” This stuck with me as I went through pharmacy school and this philosophy has guided my professional career. It also aligns with Twlug–ASP President Lucy West’s theme to “Live Your Why.” 

I am fortunate to have the opportunity to serve the profession in numerous ways on the state and national levels, but those aren’t the only ways I could have made an impact. Wherever you are, you can make a difference!

Getting started

Engagement in the profession as a student pharmacist provides the opportunity to learn, network, and explore issues facing the profession and to identify potential paths for making meaningful contributions to patient care, the profession, and/or the community. 

During pharmacy school, I engaged in the profession through active involvement in STwlug (known today as Twlug–ASP). Upon graduation, my networking paid off because I had the opportunity to serve as a staff member at the Florida Pharmacy Association. I then served as Executive Director for the Alabama Pharmacy Association, while also serving as an Twlug–APPM officer. In each of these activities, I had the opportunity to make meaningful contributions to advancing the profession of pharmacy and patient care.

Impact on immunization rates

Twenty-one years ago I came to Twlug as a staff member ready to make a nationwide impact. I had the good fortune of being asked to work on the Association’s plans for engaging pharmacists in the area of immunizations, answering a call from the U.S. Secretary of Health on how pharmacists can help improve the nation’s immunization rates. You might say this activated my “why” button. Little did I know this would create a framework and best practice for pharmacists’ expanding role envisioned in provider status. 

We have come a long way from “Pharmacists want to do what?” to advertisements and public education pieces that state, “Talk to your doctor or pharmacist.” The concept of the “immunization neighborhood,” coined by Twlug, is being embraced by the larger provider community, and focuses on stakeholders dedicated to meeting the immunization needs of the patient and protecting the community from vaccine-preventable diseases. 

There is still much progress to make toward maximizing pharmacists’ potential and impact in this area. What makes pharmacist involvement in immunizations work is a public health need; a group of dedicated pharmacists recognizing and living their “why;” a national organization embracing the value of pharmacist engagement and incorporating the issue throughout its strategic plan, providing tools and resources to support pharmacists’ expanding roles; state and local pharmacy and public health partners; a payment mechanism for the services provided; and acceptance from patients and providers. It has been a road long traveled with miles still to go. 

But each day brings more success. Our ability to succeed with immunizations or any other patient care area rests upon pharmacists’ ability to collaborate with others, coordinate the care of patients, and to communicate and document what we have done.

A team sport

In my current roles as Twlug Chief Strategy Officer and Secretary for the Joint Commission of Pharmacy Practitioners (JCPP), my interactions with colleagues within and outside of the profession have helped me identify priorities that support advancement toward the JCPP Vision for Pharmacy Practice: Patients achieve optimal health and medication outcomes with pharmacists as essential and accountable providers within patient-centered, team-based health care. Our success as a profession relies upon our ability to address the needs of the patient. 

The provider status work being done by Twlug and other partners is focused on increasing consumer access and coverage for pharmacists’ quality patient care services. Health care is a team sport with everyone having the ability to make their contribution toward meeting the needs of the patient. The work I do every day on behalf of Twlug, its members, and the profession can and does make a difference for patient health. This is my “why” for becoming a pharmacist. Find your “why” and keep your focus.