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University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy
Students Advocating for the Profession of Pharmacy
by Shannon Menard, P3
The Practice Advancement Initiative (PAI), the initiative started by the American Society of Health-Systems Pharmacists (ASHP) that empowers pharmacists and pharmacy students to advocate for our profession and advance the practice of pharmacy to provide the best care for our patients. PAI Week is a specific week designated by ASHP and ICHP for student chapters to promote this initiative. This year, the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) College of Pharmacy (COP) chapter developed a few different events to participate in PAI Week.
The week started with speakers Dr. Henri Manasse and ICHP Executive Vice President Scott Meyers at a general body meeting (GBM) on Monday, February 25th. Dr. Manasse focused on how pharmacy is changing and the importance of advocating for our profession. Scott Meyers followed with a discussion about Legislative Day. Students were able to gain an insight on what to expect if they chose to attend Legislative Day and also learned about current bills that are being reviewed in Springfield. Prior to the GBM, I was not familiar with what bills were being reviewed that impacted pharmacy practice. I felt informed and prepared to discuss these bills with legislators when I attended Legislative Day 2019 a few weeks after the GBM.
The rest of the week, we set up a booth in the COP lobby to continue the conversation about PAI and promote registration for Legislative Day. Students were invited to fill out a questionnaire asking what provider status for pharmacists would mean to them. This sparked a conversation among the students about how they could advance practice while in pharmacy school as well as when they graduate. Most students discussed how the impact of provider status would impact pharmacy and patient outcomes while others brought up potential issues/obstacles that may be encountered. This lead to a healthy debate on how provider status could be implemented in the state. Our contribution to advocacy also consisted of computer booths to recruit and register students to participate in Legislative Day 2019.
We finished our week of festivities by hosting a trivia booth where we quizzed students on what they learned during PAI Week. All winners were entered into a raffle to win reimbursement for the cost of Legislative Day registration. By the deadline to register for Legislative Day, UIC COP was able to recruit 56 students to attend Legislative Day 2019.
Legislative Day 2019 took place on Wednesday, March 13th. UIC pharmacy students joined other students and pharmacists from all over Illinois to advocate for our profession directly to senators and house representatives. The highlight of the day was attending the rally inside the Capital where we lobbied for House Bill 465 and Senate Bill 652 which promotes Pharmacy Benefit Manager regulation by increasing transparency and removing the gag clause imposed on pharmacies. The rally hyped up the crowd and motivated us to find our legislators in search of sponsorship of the bill. This opportunity provided a hands on experience on how to advocate for the profession of pharmacy and a glimpse of what it takes to make lasting changes in legislation. I hope that students left this experience feeling as though they contributed to pharmacy advocacy and that they continue to advocate for our profession as they progress through school and their careers as pharmacists. ■