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Advocacy: Leadership In Action for Pharmacists and Technicians

17 Jan 2020 11:15 AM | Anonymous

Author: Nathan Hanson, PharmD, MS, BCPS

Legislative Day is April 1st - will you be joining us? No, this isn’t a practical joke…advocacy is our job! Why? Because advocacy is leadership in action.

The playoffs are here, and what a year it’s been already! And like most years, this year we have been reminded how important the rules are. We see games decided and seasons completely changed because of one rule and one referee’s interpretation of that rule. Players can only do what they do best when they have the right rules, and when there is a clear understanding of those rules.

This brings us to pharmacy. Like the players, we are only able to use our skills and play the game within the rules that we have been given. Our patients need us to advocate for the best rules that allow pharmacists to provide the care that they need. Our patients need us to understand the rules so that we can safely and creatively serve their needs. Luckily, by joining MSHP you have already taken the first and most important step in the advocacy process. Over the next few MSHP newsletters we will we review the simple next steps that you can take to advocate for your patients.

We need to make up our minds that advocacy is indeed our job. Remember, advocacy just means that we work hard to

Understand the current rules so we follow them correctly

Improve the rules, using the systems that are in place.

When described this way, it makes it clear that advocacy is part of every pharmacy leader’s job.

Why is advocacy part of a pharmacy leader’s job? Pharmacists and technicians are committed to creative problem solving, quality assurance, and quality improvement. But we can only solve problems within the rules of the game, and we can’t assure quality unless we know what quality is, and we can make the biggest improvements to quality when we adjust the rules to allow innovative approaches. Every year our pharmacy schools train outstanding students, and every year our residencies provide even more training. But where to deploy all of that talent and passion? The potential can only be fully realized when we advocate for our patients.

I’ll leave you with a little light reading. First, the ASHP statement on advocacy as a professional obligation:

“ASHP believes that all pharmacists have a professional obligation to advocate on behalf of patients and the profession. Pharmacists should stay informed of issues that affect medication-related outcomes and advocate on behalf of patients, the profession, and the public. These issues may include legal, regulatory, financial, and other health policy issues, and this obligation extends beyond the individual practice site to their broader communities.”1

Next, a letter from Scott Knoer and Erin Fox that lays out some practical steps to take in our advocacy journey2 and an article3 showing the value of participating in a Legislative Day. Of course you can’t do everything, but it’s a new year for a fresh start! By attending Legislative Day or choosing to do one of these things in 2020 you can demonstrate Leadership in Action by advocating for our patients and our profession.

Advocacy is our job – let’s decide to do it well!

  1. Jeff Little, Melissa Ortega, Michael Powell, Mark Hamm, ASHP Statement on Advocacy as a Professional Obligation, American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy, Volume 76, Issue 4, 15 February 2019, Pages 251–253, https://doi.org/10.1093/ajhp/zxy040
  2. Scott Knoer, Erin R Fox, Advocacy as a professional obligation: Practical application, American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy, , zxz328, https://doi.org/10.1093/ajhp/zxz328
  3. Kate Traynor, Pharmacists make advocacy happen on ASHP Legislative Day, American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy, Volume 77, Issue 2, 15 January 2020, Pages 69–70, https://doi.org/10.1093/ajhp/zxz296


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