Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Pharmacist Organizations

A month or so ago I set up a poll on this blog's sidebar to see how active local pharmacist organizations were. To my surprise, 30 percent of respondents said that they had active local associations. I expected the number to be much lower.

In my own community, we had an organization that disbanded over 10 years ago. When we were active, we were able to meet every couple months at 9:30 or 10 at night. The meetings consisted of a small presentation from a drug rep, a decent meal, and drinks. Lots of drinks. Since just about everybody was coming from work we needed to blow off a little steam.

Why don't we meet any longer? I don't know. Maybe it's due to our geographic region. I practice in a rural area. There are 90,000 residents in the entire county. There are about 15 pharmacies in the county, plus two hospitals with pharmacies. To get everybody together means that some people will be driving 40 minutes to the meeting. Since half of us would be working the opening shift the next morning, we never really had a huge turnout.

The local organization did help us connect with each other. No matter who we worked for, we were able to share our experiences and be heard by our peers.

Take note of that last part.

Heard by our peers.

I think that there is a tremendous disconnect between your local pharmacists and the state and national pharmacy organizations. The issues that are being discussed at the state and national levels seem so far removed from what those of us in the community and hospital pharmacies are facing.

If I were in academia, maybe the issues would resonate with me. But for me and my peers, the state and national organizations just don't practice pharmacy in the same world that we do.

Back in August or September I joined the American Pharmacists Association. Mostly to get access to their medication therapy management resources. For that aspect of my practice, the APhA is a valuable resource. But when it comes to workplace issues, third-party issues, legal issues...we are not in the same ballpark.

I understand that the APhA represents all aspects of the profession, but I think the APhA needs to look at where most pharmacists practice and address the issues based on where the pharmacist are. That's a major part of the disconnect.

Another part of the disconnect (and one that infuriates me) is the lack of reply to communications from the organizations. After joining the APhA, I looked at joining the Ohio Pharmacists Association. Before sending in a check to cover membership for a year, I sent an email to the OPA to see what issues they were focusing on, to see if their vision of pharmacy jived with mine. I didn't get a response. I sent a second email. Again, no response. If an organization can't take the time to respond to a simple email from somebody wanting to join, are they really going to listen to my opinions or will they simply continue to attempt to advance their agenda?

The same thing has happened to me with the APhA. Three different times I have used their webform to send questions to them, including two this past month. No response to any of the emails. This really pisses me off because I am a dues paying member and the courtesy of a reply has been non-existent. Way to connect with your members APhA. Again, I feel like my thoughts and opinions are not going to be heard. I do have the email addresses for specific people who would be able to answer my questions, but I wanted to test how well the organization replied to my questions and comments. They failed.

Two organizations of my peers have failed to even reply to information requests. I believe that the failure of the Ohio Pharmacists Association and the American Pharmacists Association has led to such apathy on the part of the local pharmacists that we will never be able have an active local association. This is not good for the profession.

There are many smart pharmacists out there with ideas that can advance the profession beyond your wildest expectations. These pharmacists need to be heard. It's up to the larger organizations to listen to the individual pharmacists who are practicing pharmacy. We are trying to be heard. The organizations need to listen.

As always, if anybody wants to speak to a real pharmacist they can email me at to set up a time when we can talk on the phone.


Pharmd Biker said...


I agree with you on this. It seems all you ever receive from these organizations is a card and a magazine. I too have emailed them on similar questions, clarifications, and even help. Their reply: nothing. They talk the talk, but once they have your money you're out in the dark. I am willing to pay extra to attend CEs.

I am sure there are people out there that will disagree with me.

Anonymous said...

You know Eric, I am not a politically active kind of person. Early on I was a member of APhA and the local assoc. Went to a couple of meetings and realized all too late that all I was doing was sending a couple of hundred bucks a year to a black hole. What I do and endure has never been represented/lobbied about/defended/protected. Our working conditions have never been laid out on the table and argued over. For 22 years I have been working lunchless, breakless, etc. No assoc will ever change that. no board of pharmacy cares about that. and NO company I have ever worked for gives a flying sh*t about long as we keep up the customer service. I am a tiny cog in a huge wheel and no pharmacist shortage makes me any more "indispensible". It is what it is. You go for it, maybe YOU will be the one to make a difference. I am too tired.