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6/9/2003

Ashby Challenges Pharmacists to Strive for Unity

Donna Young

By coming together for the common cause of patient care, the pharmacy community can meet the challenges of medical errors, regulatory burdens, and changing technology, said ASHP President Daniel M. Ashby, M.S., FASHP, in his June 3 inaugural address at ASHP's Summer Meeting in San Diego.

"We can embrace the need for change rather than cower in fear before it," he declared.

But, Ashby added, community only works if individuals participate. "There is no room for passivity. There is no time to wait for others to take up the cause," he said. Ashby, who is pharmacy director for Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, said the pharmacy profession faces "real challenges that will require all of us to work together" as a community. Pharmacy was founded on communal values, he said.

"A sense of community requires that we strive for unity even in our diversity," Ashby noted.In health-system pharmacy, he said, the concept of community exists within a universe of individual relationships and social networks that start with the pharmacist and the patient.

"We are bound by professional ethics and the public’s trust to help patients achieve better health through the appropriate and rational use of medications," he said. "To strengthen this relationship, we reach out with ongoing dialogue and understanding to create positive outcomes. Through these interactions we are able to build bridges to the larger community as a whole."

One of the most important professional relationships is that of the preceptor and resident, Ashby said.

"This bond is a covenant marked by a series of obligations and responsibilities," he said.

One of his most fulfilling ASHP experiences, Ashby noted, was his involvement in residency accreditation as a member of the Commission on Credentialing.

Social networks are also important relationships, he added.

"Social networks maximize cooperation, trust, support, and institutional effectiveness," he said. "There is a strong sense of working together toward a shared future of undertaking duties that may not have personal payoff."

But, Ashby noted, there is a lack of social networking in the educational environment.

"If we neglect community in our educational process, I fear we will turn out new practitioners who struggle with the very human side of what we do every day," he said.

Ashby challenged pharmacy school, hospital, and health-system leaders to expand curricula to integrate classes on socialization and to offer more experiential learning.

By joining together in a social network such as ASHP, he said, pharmacists can "move the profession in new and better directions."

Ashby urged ASHP members to renew their membership in their state affiliates, sign up for one or more of the Society’s membership sections, and "volunteer and get involved in the life of your ASHP community."

"When you choose to take part in this community, you connect directly to the experience found in its membership," he said.