MPA | Pharmacy News

by Heather Somand, Pharm.D., BCPS, MSHP Board of Directors 

Have you ever questioned how we’re going to move the profession forward and accomplish the Pharmacy Practice Model Initiative goals when you don’t even have time for lunch during your workday? I’ve had the privilege of participating in many Task Forces and Committees related to advancing pharmacy practice and promoting professional development, and I often spend my drive home from Lansing thinking about that exact question. It sounds really good when you’re away from your day job at a meeting brainstorming how we can advance the profession and make a more significant impact on patient care, but we all return home to the grind of endless e-mails and overdue tasks. So, what’s the solution? Do we leave it up to our supervisors and directors to figure out and we’ll follow suit? Maybe that go-getter colleague will figure it out. Or, maybe I’ll make it to retirement before I really have to worry about it. 

I don’t know what the right answer is, but I’ve concluded a few things for myself on all those drives. First, we need to be engaged in our work environment and consider how we can best contribute to patient care. Don’t exclude yourself from the conversation just because it may not be a pharmacy specific issue. We must be aware of all the issues that present themselves along the continuum of patient care and be willing to brainstorm ideas and solutions to those issues. Will those solutions expand the role of the pharmacist? Potentially. Will they show others at the table the value of a pharmacist’s perspective in solving health-system issues? Hopefully. By being engaged and at the table, we will be better positioned to move the profession forward and garner more resources while doing so. 

Second, we need to remain active learners. Health care is changing much too quickly to assume we don’t need to hone our skills. Take the opportunity to advance your learning and understanding of the world you practice in. Make the continuing education (CE) requirement represent something and seek CE that’s actually meaningful to your work and advancement. Learn from your colleagues at other institutions and participate in those national webinars; maybe you’ll pick something up that will be useful when you’re sitting at the table brainstorming solutions to your institution’s problems. 

Third, we need to raise our hands and put ourselves out there. No one will know we’re interested, willing or able unless we make them aware. Being engaged and offering to help are the first steps toward proving we are capable of so much more than traditional pharmacist roles. As we demonstrate the added value a pharmacist can bring to new practice areas, we will be better positioned to request the additional resources needed to be successful. 

I admit that none of my ideas are going to get my lunch hour back tomorrow; however, I really believe that being engaged and showing others what a valuable resource a pharmacist can be will make them think of using a pharmacist the next time they need to fill a new role in the health system. In turn, we will continue to expand our services and show the many skills a pharmacist can bring to the table. We might not always get a lunch, but the innovative work we’re doing and contributions we’re making to the profession will be worth the cost. For now, I will live with a drive-thru lunch while I’m on the road.

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