Pharmacy faculty talking with student.

Advocacy for the Pharmacy Profession

March 10, 2021

by Matt Merical

The Cedarville School of Pharmacy  spends much of the month of February highlighting the importance of legislation and advocacy to the profession of pharmacy. Each year we promote the Ohio Pharmacists Association’s Student Legislative Day as a “book end” of sorts to foster conversations between students and local legislators in the state of Ohio. During the rest of the month, our student organizations produce events individually or in partnership that highlight the importance of the legislative process or showcase a business or individual’s process for advocacy.

Defining Pharmacy Advocacy

The American Pharmacists Association defines pharmacy advocacy as “… taking meaningful, specific action to make sure members of the government and those around them are educated about pharmacy issues and our concerns and priorities as pharmacists.” As a student, having the opportunity to speak with pharmacists about the future of pharmacy has been eye-opening, an effect I try to pass on to others in classes behind me. Conversations with classmates sometimes can end with the common objections: “Why does this matter?” or “What sort of difference will this really make?” And yet, patient conversation and utilization of important motivational interviewing skills when talking with classmates and peers has directed some of those same individuals to develop an appreciation for the importance of advocacy.

Developing an Urgency for Advocacy Among Pharmacy Students

Student engagement springboards excitement about the pharmacy profession in Ohio as they … get hands-on experience with the legislative process and can meet those who are actively working in this space.
One tangible way of helping students see the importance of advocacy is an annual collaborative event we hold known as “Bill’s, Bill’s, Bill’s,” a game-show version of the legislative process (named after a famed Dayton donut shop). At events like this we offer students a risk-free, casual opportunity to get a hands-on refresher of the “I’m Just a Bill” process, meet with local legislators, and hear from Ohio Pharmacists Association staff regarding important legislative changes impacting pharmacists. I have had the privilege of attending this event for three years now, two years as a co-host. Student engagement springboards excitement about the pharmacy profession in Ohio as they, often for the first time, get hands-on experience with the legislative process and can meet those who are actively working in this space.

I remember hearing something important during my orientation week as a first-year graduate student: paraphrased, our professor said “you will make pharmacy whatever you want it to be, but only so long as you take that opportunity.”

I think this still holds true for all of us.

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For a more in-depth discussion of pharmacy advocacy, listen to our two recent podcast episodes of DISRxUPT, a podcast from the Cedarville University Center for Pharmacy Innovation. In these episodes we interview Dr. Melody Hartzler, Dr. Thad Franz, and Dr. Andrea Kowalski about how they serve as advocates for the profession and see more changes on the horizon for pharmacy practice.

Matt Merical is a student pharmacist at the Cedarville University School of Pharmacy. He completed his B.S. in molecular and cellular biology at Cedarville University, focusing research time supporting faculty in signal transduction and antibody medication therapies. His current interests include the advancement of pharmacy practice and collaboration in the healthcare setting for the promotion of patient advocacy and care.

The Cedarville University School of Pharmacy is equipping its Doctor of Pharmacy students to be on the leading edge of healthcare innovation. Cedarville’s Pharm.D. students are fully prepared to begin a rewarding career as a pharmacist and to use their calling to make a difference for Christ as they serve with excellence and compassion.

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