Pharmacy's day on Capitol Hill


Jonathan Lee

Few people would deny the importance of political changes and the impact that policies have on Americans every day. Pharmacists and student pharmacists are certainly no exception to that rule. There are countless sweeping changes that can be made to our profession by the stroke of a pen, and we take that very seriously. This year, on March 10 and 11, pharmacists and student pharmacists across the nation joined together to voice some of the profession's concerns in Washington, DC. Organized by the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) and attended by Twlug staff, this 2-day event is called RxIMPACT and serves as a pharmacy advocacy blitz to U.S. representatives and senators.

Crash course

My experience started with a day at RxIMPACT University, a crash course in what to expect on Capitol Hill for the 50 participating student pharmacists. RxIMPACT University gave the students a detailed and concise briefing of what to expect on Capitol Hill, including helping students understand the impact of advocacy on the profession, how to speak with representatives and legislative assistants, and how to identify key advocacy points to discuss.

University of Connecticut student pharmacists Jonathan Lee (from left), Brody McConnell, and Robert Guarino; Rite Aid pharmacist Mario Zuccaroli; and Rep. Joe Courtney

There was an intensified air amongst the students when NACDS highlighted one particular piece of legislation: HR4190. This legislation would allow pharmacists to be reimbursed for their services, and effectively allow every pharmacist to perform at the top of their license and provide much needed services to underserved communities.

Advocacy back home, too

After attending RxIMPACT University, I had another unique experience where I hosted a webinar for my fellow students at the University of Connecticut (UConn) School of Pharmacy. It just so happened that the same day we were scheduled to 
advocate in DC, Connecticut had its own pharmacy day at the capitol.

Fifteen student pharmacists from UConn traveled to the state capitol in Hartford and spoke to state representatives on many of the same concerns that RxIMPACT was advocating for in Washington. It was a pretty awesome experience to be able to bring all of the amazing concepts and ideas that were presented at RxIMPACT University to my home state.

Productive day

The next day, it was straight to work with an 8:00 am start. I met my team of advocates, which included my two fellow UConn students—Robert Guarino and Brody McConnell—and three district/regional pharmacy managers from Rite Aid and Stop & Shop pharmacy. We were scheduled to meet with five legislative assistants that day, including the offices of John Larson, Richard Blumenthal, Rosa DeLauro, and Elizabeth Esty. We finished up the visits with the Office of Joe Courtney, a local legend at the UConn School of Pharmacy. Although we were scheduled to meet with one of Courtney's legislative assistants, he just happened to be in the office when we visited, and he made time to meet with us personally to discuss our topics. I could not have asked for a better end to our day!

RxIMPACT Day on Capitol Hill is an experience that is unequivocally unique to the pharmacy advocate. I have participated in many advocacy events throughout the nation, but there is a special kind of sentiment in walking around Capitol Hill influencing the profession. I knew when I was chosen for the experience that it would be unique and rewarding, but the extent to which that was true was phenomenal! I hope that every interested student pharmacist is allowed the chance to share this experience.