American Pharmacists Awareness Month: An Expert’s Advocacy Guide

Early American pharmacies were known as apothecaries and have been a cornerstone of healthcare services in this country for centuries. This has been especially true this past decade, first with the ongoing primary care physician shortage and now, with the Covid-19 pandemic.

“There’s an opportunity for the pharmacist to play a much greater role in healthcare, especially with what we have going on in this country with the shortage of primary care physicians,” Gregory Wasson told Fortune in 2013. Wasson is the former president, and chief executive officer of Walgreens. “Pharmacists have been extremely well respected—they’re one of the top two or three most-trusted professionals in opinion polls year after year.”

Even more recently, pharmacists have played an invaluable role with the declaration of the global Covid-19 pandemic in March of 2020 and the subsequent rollout of testing and vaccines that followed.

“As Covid-19 engulfed the globe in 2020, APhA led and collaborated on visionary advocacy for the profession, resulting in the state and federal government’s expansion of patient access to pharmacists’ services and elevation of the important roles of pharmacists and pharmacy professionals during the pandemic,” reports the American Pharmacists Association (APhA).

What is the American Pharmacists Association (APhA)?

APhA is the first established, largest, and most diverse national professional association representing practicing pharmacists, pharmaceutical scientists, student pharmacists, and pharmacy technicians in all practice settings. Nearly all pharmacy specialty organizations trace their roots to APhA, which was founded in 1852 as the American Pharmaceutical Association.

APhA inspires, innovates, and creates opportunities for members and pharmacists worldwide to optimize medication use and health for all. As the voice of pharmacy, APhA leads the profession and equips members for their role as the medication expert in team-based, patient-centered care.

“With the emergence of the pandemic, APhA pivoted to focus on developing timely resources to help pharmacists meet the Covid-19 challenges and opportunities in their practices,” writes APhA. These resources are posted on their main website and include the following materials and results:

  • 30+ practice resources
  • 35 open forum webinars
  • 23 videos in the Covid-19 series

2020-2021 projects also resulted in the following:

  • Nearly 37,000 views of Covid-19 video series, not including immunization training
  • 14,000 views of Covid-19 educational content on YouTube
  • 10,000+ technicians trained to administer immunizations
  • 10,000+ pharmacy technicians trained to immunize in the last three months of 2020
  • More than 376,000 pharmacists trained to administer vaccines across the lifespan as of December 31, 2020

American Pharmacists Month is held annually in October and recognized by APhA. They provide a wealth of social media assets and encourage healthcare organizations to celebrate the invaluable contributions of these skilled professionals.

Brigid K. Groves, PharmD, a senior director at APhA, graciously shared her perspective on the advocacy efforts and future of the profession.

Meet the Expert: Dr. Brigid K. Groves

Brigid K Groves, PharmD, MS is Senior Director, Practice and Professional Affairs at the American Pharmacists Association (APhA). She leads, coordinates, and contributes to efforts and initiatives related to the transformation of the role of the pharmacist and advancing pharmacists’ patient care services. She has led the creation of practice tools and resources and continually promoted the pharmacist’s role as a healthcare provider. Additionally, she administers and directs the APhA Community-based Pharmacy Residency Program initiative and the general advancement of postgraduate pharmacy residency education and training initiatives.

Previously, Dr. Groves was a population health pharmacist at a pediatric accountable care organization. Prior, she held roles as a clinical and pharmacy practice coordinator at a large grocery store-based community pharmacy chain. She has been heavily involved in professional pharmacy organizations for many years.

Dr. Groves earned her master of science in pharmacy administration and her PharmD at the Ohio State University College of Pharmacy (OSU COP). Additionally, she completed a combined PGY1 and PGY2 pharmacy residency in community care pharmacy administration at Kroger Pharmacy and OSU COP in 2014. Before her PharmD, Groves earned her bachelor of science in chemistry in 2006 from John Carroll University.

The Importance of Pharmacists in the Covid-19 Pandemic

Dr. Groves enjoyed working in a lab after earning her undergraduate degree in chemistry, but she missed the human interaction and wanted to move into a more patient-centered role. Her decision has become even more impactful over the last year as she has worked in the field with a pharmacist friend and colleague. They serve the public by offering and administering Covid-19 vaccinations at concerts, food pantries, and other small businesses.

“Covid has impacted every aspect of everyone’s lives. We as pharmacists have been trained to give vaccinations, and when the Covid vaccinations were available, we were ready to go,” says Dr. Groves.

Dr. Groves shares that the opportunities within pharmacy are “endless, unique and entrepreneurial.” Her career has spanned lab work, pediatrics, community pharmacy work, and now association management. She says there are so many options and she advises those looking into pharmacy to check out the APhA careers pathway tool, including an online assessment tool.

Dr. Groves points out that one of things APhA has tried to do is to expand legislative priorities including tackling barriers to reimbursement for pharmacist-delivered patient care services on patient insurance: “The ability to bill is a gap, and if we can’t get coverage, it’s not going to allow growth,” says Groves.

Catherine Mosley

Catherine Mosley

Catherine Chapman Mosley is a writer living in central Virginia. She’s written extensively on healthcare topics for various outlets and also works full-time in communications, marketing and community engagement. She is the proud parent of a son who is focused on a healthcare career and often seeks his editing help.

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