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Rosalind Franklin University College of Pharmacy
by Cole Heinz, P2, Student Chapter Historian
The presidential election recently took place and there are many questions about what the future holds for our country. Many people in the US have strong opinions and opposing political views, making it difficult to navigate social and professional settings when politics are discussed. I was encouraged by a presentation at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science in North Chicago, IL on pharmacy advocacy by Scott Meyers, Executive Vice President of ICHP. His passion for advocating for the rights of pharmacists gave me a new perspective on the world of politics. He urged us as pharmacy students to get involved now by attending legislative day in order to experience the lobbying process and supporting a bill that benefits our profession, or blocking one that adversely affects it. Pharmacists are highly educated but often lack the experience or interest when it comes to the intricacies of the law and politics. The pharmacy profession’s lack of involvement makes it very hard to get the support for bills pertaining to the practice of pharmacy. The voice that pharmacists have on political issues is very small compared to other healthcare professions such as nursing, which has large numbers of individuals lobbying for change.
Mr. Meyers encouraged us to take the first step in changing this cycle by getting to know our legislators. The ICHP website has resources for contacting your local legislators, making it easy for you to find out who your representatives are at a state and local level. A great way to begin to advocate for our profession is to meet with our legislators. Things to bring with you include a one-page fact sheet about the requests or concern you would like to bring to their attention, business cards, personal stories and, of course, your address. Many representatives are very familiar with the neighborhood you live in since they live, shop, and dine at many of the same places as you. And be professional! The legislator will have a greater chance of remembering you with a face-to-face meeting.
Legislative day is a great opportunity for students to advocate for the profession and get to know legislators. The networking is invaluable and will make you stand out as a student and potentially lead to greater opportunities later in your career. In the past few years, pharmacy students from Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science have attended the Illinois legislative day in Springfield, IL. As a member of ICHP, I see this as a great way to get to know students from other pharmacy schools in Illinois and to hear about their specific thoughts and concerns.
The recent election made me think of the steps that we, as students, can take to advocate for pharmacists. Regardless of political party affiliation, a student can advocate for the profession of pharmacy, such as supporting provider status. Having different political views is not something that should cause separation among pharmacists. It should give us perspective and encourage us to speak up, get involved and make a positive impact on the future of pharmacy. Regardless if you are passionate about politics or not, I hope you join me and take the first steps to make change happen! Do not be afraid, speak up and contact your state legislator today!
RFU students at Legislative Day 2015 in Springfield, IL.