Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Be A Proactive Pharmacist

We are all disillusioned in the profession. Considering the majority of individuals do not believe in our national professional organization, I think it is fairly safe to use the term "all."

After talking with APhA for the last month, it is clear that they are aware of the problems we all face. They do, in fact, have some reasonable ideas on how to address them. What they lack though is the solvency to actually act upon them.

One of the most oft repeated phrases is, "Why don't the disillusioned pharmacists show us that they care?" and to be honest it is a valid point. So many have taken such a long drive down the cynicism trail that it's hard to look back.

After all, why put forth a concentrated effort only to have it soundly defeated? I know I feel that way on a regular basis.

But why don't we put for some sort of effort? If not to show to APhA and others what they're missing out, but to give us some pride within our chosen profession.

What I am about to ask is simple... actually it's borderline remedial. We are all extremely busy during our work days, some more than others, but this would take just a minute out of what little free time we do have.

Ask a patient what they think of pharmacy. Ask them if they know what a pharmacist does for them on a daily basis. Ask them if they've ever heard of something called Medication Therapy Management or outline services we could, but cannot currently for financial reasons, provide.

See what they know and see what they want to know. I venture that the answers may surprise you as they certainly have surprised me when I have done this.

As much as the countless pharmacy rants have bound us together over the last few years, perhaps this could do the same. We need hope... the profession needs hope in order for us to continue to succeed.

If you choose to do this, feel free to come back, or E-mail me, and share your response. As cheesy as it sounds, maybe we can make our voices just a little louder and a little more substantial.

It cannot hurt to try now, can it?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Death of Angry Pharmacy Rants

No, The Angry Pharmacist is not dead... okay well maybe his soul is dead, but his body is still kicking out little amber vials at an inhumane pace.

I started this blog over four years ago partially to centralize my interesting stories from work and partially to partake in the large amount of pharmacy bitching that was present on various websites. I'll never forget the day I first stumbled upon TAP and Drug Monkey's website. The feeling of "You mean I'm not alone?" spurred a smirk as I realized others had the same thoughts as I.

And I loved it.

Finally pharmacists, technicians, students and any one else related to pharmacy had websites where their frustrations could be viewed in colorful and often humorous tones. Many others tried to emulate the original sites, while few truly succeeded. As a profession, a proverbial bitchfest took place day after day on the internet as a means to vent.

And we all loved it.

Four years later though, where are we? The tone of this site has changed dramatically over the years, and something similar is seen on other sites. While the frustration and bitterness is still prevalent through blogs and other outlets like Twitter, it's nowhere near as resonating as it once was. The knowledge that we are not alone is no longer a source of relief, but a part of daily life.

And we all became used to it.

The question becomes, what now? Witty and spiteful posts are often been replaced by more demonstrative and action-oriented posts as shown by Eric, Pharmacist and The Readheaded Pharmacist. One could say that substance is slowly replacing style and it seems as if there are the beginning flickers of a collective voice for the profession. Something APhA, which has been covered numerous times, lacks the ability to do so.

And we all want more.

Perhaps the next step is providing substance towards are frustrations. To focus it into something productive and produce actual change. Many pharmacy bloggers are attempting to do just that and, if the conversations I have had from APhA are accurate, they are beginning to be heard. The time for angry pharmacy rants is ending, being replaced by something which may ultimately be even more fruitful.

And we all will love it.

It is a scary thought how a few late night, profanity laced tirades could propel a, perhaps, legitimate push to change our profession. Evolution often takes a winding and unpredictable path, yet usually leads to a superior result. My hope is that our current trend continues because it holds the promise of yielding true change in our profession, albeit in small amounts at first.

And we will all finally be happy.

A guy can dream after all can't he?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Does APhA Really Represent Pharmacists?

Tonight I was playing with my son with the TV on in the background when a commercial splashed across the screen. Immediately I stopped what I was doing and watched, jaw slightly agape, at what was on the screen.

What was it you may ask? Take a look for yourself:

Beautiful is it not? Even more so when you go to the actual YouTube page and read the purpose of the advertisement. It truly is great to see a professional organization be assertive and stand up for their profession. Clearly the AMA will not sit idly by and wait for change to come to them.

Bravo for that.

Now wouldn't it be great if APhA did the same? Between the health professional organization trifecta of the AMA, APhA and ADA, the APhA is often the silent partner. Whereas the AMA and ADA are very active outside of their practitioners and have a very broad public awareness, few outside of our immediate profession even know what APhA is.

It's one of the topics I have pushed several times on this site in the past and will continue to do so until someone actually listens. Recently I discussed the distressing notion that a business oriented enterprise is, in effect, leading our profession to change for their own selfish reasons.

It is something which has even been brought up in publications like the Wall Street Journal. Interesting how those even within the profession see the massive amount of benefit of the idea I laid out, yet APhA does not seem interested in actually following through with it.

It is this which is the most distressing aspect of pharmacy as a whole. In school and by APhA we are repeatedly told about the "future" of pharmacy, but in reality there does not appear to be a realistic path towards this future. Progress by APhA can be measured by the speed of a sloth, and we run the risk of being bypassed by other health care profession as the system evolves.

For instance let's look over the Strategic Issues on the AMA website which describes who they are and what they are fighting for. It is rather all encompassing while being concise and plotting for the future, wouldn't you agree? It's something even the lay person could read and instantly understand what AMA, and physicians as a whole, stand for.

Now let's look over what APhA has listed as their Advocacy Issues. One of the first things you notice is a lack of an adequate summary to the overall goal of the organization. Line by line and link by link they list specific issues, but there is no connection between the issues and what they mean for pharmacy. The AMA does a spectacular job of presenting their main goals and then diving into the specifics. Here, the APhA merely presents the specifics without any cross-linking to form a cohesive idea. In the end, the problem lies not so much with the issues themselves, but more with how they are presented.

Clearly the AMA's website is focused towards both their providers and their patients whereas APhA's website is tailored to its providers. There is already a disconnect of perception between pharmacists and their patients, and this does nothing but further that divide. If anything, the APhA website continues to make it's self inaccessible to the patients they so often tout as the focus of their work.

Why is this? Why is it the organization, which is financed partially through the dues of pharmacists, seems to ignore this crucial ingredient to the long term success of the profession? Why is it that pharmacists across the country feel like they have no voice?

There was no immediate response to the disparaging remarks by the CEO of Medco from APhA. For those unfamiliar with the situation, this link provides a good summary. How is it that our so-called voice of the profession remains eerily silent while one of the most powerful individuals in health care obtusely insults our profession?

What are those dues good for then? Several times it has been reaffirmed that the APhA can only reflect the views of those members who participate, and pay, through their membership. Granted I see the logic in this, by why is membership required to represent pharmacists as a whole? Why is it that none of the 70+ pharmacists I have worked with over the last ten years are active with APhA? Why is it that rarely do you find a community pharmacist, who just happen to make up the largest constituents of the profession, that considers the APhA worthwhile?

Because they have no faith in it. APhA is viewed as a lion with no teeth and no roar. Why devote time to something which is ultimately fruitless? As pharmacists are pushed around year after year with little light at the end of the tunnel, of course they become disillusioned. Who wouldn't?

So why doesn't APhA throw up a hail mary and start to regain the trust of the pharmacists it represents? Why doesn't APhA consider educating patients on who they are to overcome the biggest obstacle the profession faces, a lack of understanding of who and what a pharmacist is. Why doesn't APhA maintain a daily, strong active voice for the profession which can readily respond to comments from individuals such as David Snow?

Why doesn't APhA model itself after the AMA and actually represent the profession?

Give me a reason to want to be a member of APhA. Give me a reason to want to be extraordinary proactive within the profession. Give me a reason to stand up for what pharmacy stands for. Give me a reason to have faith in APhA.

Is that too much to ask?