Thursday, September 16, 2010

State of the Profession, Part Two...Organization

A couple days ago, I addressed the topic of UNITY within the profession of pharmacy. As a follow up to that topic I want to look at part of the problem we have in achieving unity within the profession of pharmacy.



ORGANIZATION



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
At their core, each of these organizations is trying to advance the profession of pharmacy. However, each organization is trying to advance aspects of their portion of the practice of pharmacy, not the profession as a whole. As pharmacists, we need to have one voice that represents the entire profession.

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.

7 comments:

Phathead said...

I would like to see this start at the student level. Many of the organizations, at least in my experience, cater to the less serious side of pharmacy to students. They try to make it more fun than anything else.

If you hook them while they're young, you lay the ground work for a better future. As cheesy as that sounds.

The Redheaded Pharmacist said...

I've always thought that pharmacy needed it's equivalent of the AMA. That to me is the model organization for what the representative body for the profession of pharmacy SHOULD be. The APhA has the potential to be that organization for pharmacists but it seems unwilling or unable to do so in it's current form. My challenge to the APhA is to step up and meet the challenges of representing ALL pharmacists in the country or step aside and let a new organization emerge as the true voice of the profession!

AP@H said...

I applaud you idea and fully agree that APhA is no where near as powerful nor as progressive as AMA. However, I think the main reason we can't all just get along like doctors is because there isn't as much diversity in medicine as there is in pharmacy. They have the same goals: to practice medicine and get paid as much as possible in the process. No doctor wants to deal with PBMs questioning their prescribing habits. Their gripes with insurance companies are all the same. Then there's pharmacy. You have old school traditional pharmacists who just want to stick to dispensing and are not one bit interested in MTM/Immunizations/disease management (although they seem a little more interested when reimbursement for these services is mentioned). Then you've got the new grads who have been told that they can change the world of healthcare one MTM intervention at a time, and so they're interested in performing these non-traditional pharmacy activities with their patients. Among them are pharmacists who are working for PBMs, pharma, etc whose job it is to create these point-of-sale services while maximizing profit. Next to them are the small independent pharmacists who hate their big box pharmacy neighbors because they steal their market share. These same pharmacies also resent the PBMs and their supporters for reducing dispensing fees. On to hospital pharmacists- many of these pharmacists look down on almost every other type of pharmacist because they're not as "clinical" as them. And the hating goes on and on. Diversity within the pharmaceutical/healthcare industry is great in that we now have vast career options, but it has created conflicts of interest among pharmacists, which obviously doesn't allow for a unified body. How can APhA gain momentum or increase support from its own when there are so many different agendas?

lovinmyjob said...

Well said, Eric!! Pharmacists are probably the least organized of all professions. I think nurses are probably better organized. At least they have unions in many states. I don't want a pharmacist's union but I do want unity. Where do we start? I think a big issue is seen by the fact that the majority of us are "employees". Unlike physicians, most of us do not own the businesses that we are running. This leaves us a sense of "not my problem". In other words, we have no vested interest. Also, the hours we have to work precludes our joining or attending meetings outside of work. I have to use vacation days just to go to C.E. programs that are required by law. Then when I do look into joining different groups the amount of money required is inhibitory. If I join APhA and my state group, I'm looking at several hundred dollars a year that I'm not able to write off or bill as a business expense like the docs can do. Being the sole provider for my family I have to make the decision not to join these groups and spend that several hundred dollars on the mandatory live C.E. that is required each year. Not to mention that several states, mine included, require their pharmacists to pay a professional priviledge tax ($400 in mine) which goes to fund state Medicaid. We are looked at as a source of revenue just because we make a decent wage. Where does it end?

Canada Pharmacy said...

The list which is given here are the best pharmacist organizations,. And they all are trying to advance the level of the pharmacy.

Marie said...

All this sounds great to me. I'm a new graduate and would love to have more contact and unity with other pharmacists in my city, but the networking is a challenge. I don't care what retailer you work for or if you work in a hospital setting, we're all pharmacists. The company I work for isn't real supportive of even sharing the names and contact information of pharmacists working in other stores -- they seem to know that our "talking" would lead to organizing and they are threatened by the what this means.

APhA might be the best place to start -- we'd need to reach out to all the Boards of Pharmacy to find licensed pharmacists that aren't members of APhA or other organizations. Our local state pharmacy associations might also be a good place to begin some sort of networking attempt. I think some of the smaller city associations have stopped meeting and communicating altogether when the drug reps offers of free dinners started drying up. Sad too because this was a great way to get people together. We could still do it -- I'd be happy to grab my own take-out dinner to meet and plan with other pharmacists.

I'll keep checking back to see ideas that others have for how we might be able to organize and get the ball rolling.

I do agree that our colleges of pharmacy need to be more proactive in this effort, but sadly they are interested in seeking donors more than seeming to be interested in pulling all of us together.

Marie said...

All this sounds great to me. I'm a new graduate and would love to have more contact and unity with other pharmacists in my city, but the networking is a challenge. I don't care what retailer you work for or if you work in a hospital setting, we're all pharmacists. The company I work for isn't real supportive of even sharing the names and contact information of pharmacists working in other stores -- they seem to know that our "talking" would lead to organizing and they are threatened by the what this means.

APhA might be the best place to start -- we'd need to reach out to all the Boards of Pharmacy to find licensed pharmacists that aren't members of APhA or other organizations. Our local state pharmacy associations might also be a good place to begin some sort of networking attempt. I think some of the smaller city associations have stopped meeting and communicating altogether when the drug reps offers of free dinners started drying up. Sad too because this was a great way to get people together. We could still do it -- I'd be happy to grab my own take-out dinner to meet and plan with other pharmacists.

I'll keep checking back to see ideas that others have for how we might be able to organize and get the ball rolling.

I do agree that our colleges of pharmacy need to be more proactive in this effort, but sadly they are interested in seeking donors more than seeming to be interested in pulling all of us together.