Hello Fellow Student Pharmacists,
After an unexpected and turbulent spring, I hope everyone enjoyed their summer and started the new semester smoothly. For many of us the new school year may appear different, however, I am confident we will continue to adapt and adjust to the challenges and opportunities presented to us through this pandemic. Although organizational involvement and learning have changed, remaining active and engaged continues to be important. Besides the social aspects of connectedness and networking, now more than ever, our collective voice and involvement can shape the future of patient care and pharmacy practice.
COVID-19 has created a need for emergency preparedness and showcased pharmacists' unique ability to provide frontline care during a pandemic. We were called to prioritize patient care issues and increase the visibility of pharmacists as vital members of the healthcare team. Through the collective voice of ASHP, members have made a difference. Over the last few months, ASHP has pushed for transparency and orderly allocation of remdesivir, compounding flexibility within hospital and health systems, and authorization for licensed pharmacists to order and administer COVID-19 vaccines, to name a few. COVID-19 uncovered immediate gaps in care that pharmacists were able to fill, however these achievements would not have been possible without extensive and determined advocacy efforts.
Although advocacy is year-round, fall brings several key milestones. September marks the beginning of ASHP’s first virtual Policy Week, which kicks off the annual ASHP policy making process and lays the groundwork for ASHP’s advocacy efforts. During this week, ASHP Council members spend two days brainstorming and discussing the profession’s most pressing issues. Policy Week deliberations generate recommendations and policies to be approved by the House of Delegates. These recommendations form the basis of ASHP’s outreach. So where do students fit in this process?
To start, ASHP’s five policy-recommending Councils and the Commission on Affiliate Relations have a student representative. For 2020-2021 the following individuals will serve as your voice within ASHP’s Councils and Commission:
- Lauren Busch, Council on Education & Workforce Development
- Kaitlyn Grieves, Council on Pharmacy Management
- Jon Wilson, Council on Pharmacy Practice
- Emily McTish, Council on Public Policy
- Erin Warren, Council on Therapeutics
- Aydan Sparks, Commission on Affiliate Relations
This year’s appointees will work with the Councils to address key issues including rising drug prices, lack of transparency and accountability of drug shortages, and increasing awareness of and combating the opioid epidemic.
Outside national leadership positions, there are numerous ways to get involved. Students can introduce items for consideration through the PSF Executive Committee, by responding to the call for Resolutions, or speaking directly with ASHP officers, Board members, or staff. Additionally, writing a letter to your legislator detailing pharmacists’ contributions to the healthcare team or completing a pre-populated email to your member of Congress offer excellent opportunities to have your voice heard. I was intimidated by the terms “policy” and “advocacy” until I realized the magnitude of a current student’s voice. Local, state, and federal legislators are not only willing, but eager, for you to share your experiences with them. Don’t be afraid to participate in your SSHP’s virtual or in-person “Legislative Days” or volunteer to help your ASHP State Affiliate society. To begin your involvement, review the current ASHP professional policies and statements and research issues facing our profession.
Advocacy goes beyond advancing the profession of pharmacy. It is using our extensive clinical knowledge and role on the healthcare team to care for our patients. I hope as you start the new academic year, you take the opportunity to stay informed about advocacy and legislative initiatives and explore creative ways you can contribute, making a positive impact on our profession.
Member, ASHP Pharmacy Student Forum Executive Committee
Pharm.D. Candidate 2021