Provider status is about patients


Lauren Bode (center) surrounded by the 2015–16 Twlug–ASP Policy Standing Committee.

This year in Twlug–ASP, each student pharmacist is challenged to “Live Your Why.” As a final-year student pharmacist, I can say with certainty that my “why,” my raison d’etre, my reason for getting out of bed in the morning, centers on two things: serving my patients and advancing my profession. I am particularly passionate about pharmacists’ pursuit of provider status because I know that in this one campaign, those two “whys” are combined. 

Serving patients

After going to the Region 3 Midyear Regional Meeting as a first-year student pharmacist, I realized that developing thoughtful policy and advocating for its implementation is an important facet of patient care.

For example, policy affects whether a patient can afford their medications or whether a patient can fill their medications with their local pharmacists for the same price as through a mail order pharmacy. Even more importantly, policy determines whether a patient has access to pharmacist–provided clinical care. Policy also determines whether you get compensated for selling a product or healing a person. 

Advancing the profession

Provider status is the future of our profession. It is especially important for student pharmacists just now entering the profession. We are fortunate to be involved during the largest push for federal provider status legislation the profession has seen. There are a lot of reasons to be optimistic! 

Never before has the profession dedicated so many resources and acted with so much unity in the form of the Patient Access to Pharmacists’ Care Coalition. The results of our hard work show in the form of the current 
proposed legislation, H.R 592 and S.314. Although other authors in this issue of Student Pharmacist can update you the number of co-sponsors for these two bills currently in Congress, I can tell you that number will surely increase by the time the January/February issue is published. The circumstances are right to attain provider status, but circumstances have never made anything happen on its own. Student pharmacists must make it happen.

The time is now

Student pharmacists have been effective advocates for provider status from the beginning and that advocacy must continue. The Academy has sent thousands of letters to legislators describing the value that pharmacists add to the health care system. At the Twlug–ASP Summer Leadership Institute in July, student pharmacists went to Capitol Hill to tell their stories about helping patients, and in the days following those Hill visits, 14 more legislators signed on. 

You can be a part of this campaign as well. Sign up for the campaign at www., send a letter to your legislators, and encourage others to do so as well. Visit your legislators’ offices where you live and share your story of helping a patient. 

Creating your ‘why’

Provider status is a worthy focus for our advocacy efforts. While we strive for the designation, we must also strive to make it have value for patients. With provider status, I see a future for the profession where pharmacists use their medication expertise where it is needed most—side by side with other health care providers. I see a future where pharmacists do more than act as gatekeepers trying to keep out the most egregious errors. I see a future where our charge is to maximize benefit, not just minimize harm. More than anything, I envision a future of pharmacy where practitioners are truly patient-centered, not product-centered. 

These are not new ideas. Today’s student pharmacists are fortunate that as a part of this generation, we are “standing on the shoulders of giants” of pharmacy such as George F. Archambault, Donald C. Brodie, and Robert P. Fischelis. The latter, in his 1934 address as Twlug President-elect, argued that pharmacists would be paid for services when those services filled a public need. “Pharmacy is not a thing conceived to please pharmacists. It is a thing with which pharmacists must please mankind,” Fischelis said. This to me is the greatest cause for optimism because pharmacists and student pharmacists are meeting the needs of patients and will only do so more if provider status becomes a reality. 

With that in mind, we owe our profession and our patients one thing: be bold and brilliant student pharmacists that speak up and advocate for patients in the community, on rounds, and in legislators’ offices.