When I look at the profession of pharmacy, I don't see a whole lot of organization among pharmacists. Sure, there are a lot of pharmacist organizations out there. Organizations like:
- American Pharmacists Association
- American Society of Consultant Pharmacists
- American Society of Health System Pharmacists
- Board of Pharmaceutical Specialties
- National Community Pharmacists Association
- American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists
- The Pharmacy Alliance
- American College of Clinical Pharmacy
- Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy
- Christian Pharmacists Fellowship International
- National Association of Chain Drug Stores
- Society of Infectious Disease Pharmacists
- Hematology/Oncology Pharmacy Association
- College of Psychiatric and Neurologic Pharmacists
We've all heard the saying too many cooks spoil the broth. Well, too many organizations destroy the profession. One voice that is speaking gets heard, many voices speaking at once sounds like chatter and gets dismissed as background noise. I think that's where we are now. We have too many organizations trying to advance the profession and the messages are lost in all of the noise.
I look at the American Medical Association as the example of a strong voice for a profession. When the physicians group speaks, the legislators and media pay attention. We don't get multiple messages from the radiologists, pediatricians, internists, intensivists, pulmonologists, and oncologists. We get one statement from the AMA. That's where pharmacy needs to be.
Am I saying that the APhA should be the voice for all of pharmacy, since they have a name that is similar to the AMA? I don't know.
If they start to address issues that affect all pharmacists, then they could be the voice. I'll be honest with you, I'm an APhA member. I joined in August 2009 and just renewed my membership for another year. I hope to see progress from them. If not, I won't renew.
That being said about the national organizations, we need to look at the local levels of organization. Several months ago I put up a poll to see how many pharmacists were active in local pharmacist associations. I was not surprised when the results showed that a majority of respondents were not active.
How can we expect to have any organization and a voice if we are unwilling to meet as a group outside of work? I know that it's not convenient to meet and you just want to go home after work to relax. That's what is keeping us from having a voice in our profession. If we meet together, even if it's just once every other month, we are able to share our experiences and find out what is happening in other practice settings. Who knows, maybe the consultant pharmacist at the long-term care facility may be able to help solve an issue faced by a community pharmacist who is trying to start up a medication therapy management business practice.
We will never know if we don't get together to share our thoughts and ideas.
Once we have been able to discuss the issues that we face, we can forward them to the larger organizations and hopefully have an impact on the profession.
My concern is that if pharmacists don't get off of their butts to organize and advance the profession of pharmacy, there won't be a profession left in twenty years.