It has been a busy two months for our organization! First, let me welcome the newly established Section of Community Pharmacy Practitioners. This section will serve as a home for those who practice in community/ambulatory pharmacy-based settings and supports practices offering ASHP-Accredited Community-Based Pharmacy Residency Programs, further emphasizing ASHP’s commitment to ensuring that medication use is optimal, safe, and effective for all people in all settings. Our section looks forward to opportunities to collaborate and partner with our community colleagues.
As part of National Pharmacy Week, ASHP highlighted women in pharmacy leadership, pharmacy technicians, and those serving on the front lines of COVID-19. I had the opportunity to participate in a podcast with our Section Director, Melanie Smith, as part of the Practice Journeys podcast series discussing my journey to ambulatory care, lessons learned during COVID, and experiences with mentors throughout my career.
In September, I had the privilege to represent the Section of Ambulatory Care Practitioners during the virtual ASHP Policy Week. It was an engaging and educational week as I participated in various meetings on behalf of ambulatory care practitioners, and I am so proud of the good work that our organization is doing on behalf of our profession.
Advocacy priorities this year included:
- 340B drug pricing program
- Reimbursement for pharmacists for COVID-19 testing and vaccinations
- Extension of flexible virtual supervision rules of pharmacists in physician practices and hospital outpatient clinics
- Payment of pharmacists commensurate to services provided, specifically in outpatient care
- Expanding pharmacist ability to treat opioid addiction
I personally took a significant amount of time to discuss with my state legislators the importance of ensuring payment commensurate to services provided in outpatient care, and how our practice and patients have benefited from the changes to virtual supervision policies in the midst of this pandemic. You can rest assured that we will continue to advocate on behalf of all of our members to ensure that your practice and profession are effectively represented in these key areas over the coming months. But remember, our leaders can’t do it alone. Continue to keep an eye out for opportunities to personally engage in advocacy events promoted by ASHP- there is power in numbers!
Speaking of advocacy, this is also a great time to remember the power of advocating for pharmacy outside of the pharmacy profession. As effective as we can be internally, it is crucially important that we build support and gain champions through our healthcare colleagues, our patients, and the general public. Until the broader community understands our role, our impact, and the depth of our training, we will be limited in our ability to create the system-level changes that need to occur to ensure appropriate reimbursement and collaborative opportunities across the healthcare continuum.
For example, at my family medicine practice site we have been working on recruitment materials for our PGY2 residency program alongside the medical residency program. When interviewing the medical residents, they were asked to describe what comes to mind when thinking of their ambulatory care pharmacy colleagues. The answers were so encouraging and empowering. One physician said, “when I think of pharmacy, I think, ‘thank heavens’- they are an incredible added benefit. They are some of the most competent, creative, collaborative individuals with whom I am ever had the chance to work”. Our chief medical resident added “the benefit of having pharmacy residents here in the clinic cannot be understated…it feels like having a performance enhancement right at my fingertips. I can’t overemphasize how important it is, and how much it brightens my day when I show up and know the pharmacy residents are here.”
I don’t think for a second that those sentiments are unique to my practice or my physicians, because I know of so many of you, the incredible work you do at your institutions, and how valued you are by your team. When advocacy opportunities occur, consider tapping into the well of those relationships that you have built over the years. If you haven’t built those champions within your practice or organization, start now - we will need those partners in the months and years to come as we work to move our profession forward.
Know that you are valued, appreciated, and essential. Stay well in the days ahead!
Jessica W. Skelley, Pharm.D., BCACP
Chair, Section of Ambulatory Care Practitioners