Now Is The Time To Be Active

by Avery Spunt
August 1, 2009

As I write this President’s Message, the 2009 baseball season has reached the half way point, and soon we will know who won the All Star game for this year. Just as the baseball players have a break in their schedule, I am fortunate to be able to go on vacation in a few days and be able to concentrate on my hobby of photography and take a break from pharmacy. As I prepare my camera equipment for the trip, I start calculating how much film I will need – how much should be slide film and how much should be print film. I finally snap out of my senior moment and realize that I was just being nostalgic thinking back on how life use to be. I do not need film; I am not using my old outdated film camera. I now need a few new memory cards for my digital camera.

Unfortunately, at this point my thoughts switch from photography and vacation back to my prominent thoughts of the world of Pharmacy Practice. This should not be surprising since I made this analogy in my ICHP Presidential Acceptance Address last September. I warned that there is a collective thought that the profession of pharmacy will always be with us. But so did many workers at Kodak Corporation who believed that their jobs would always be there. These individuals were the ones that used to make and process slide and print film. Their jobs are now gone, and their memory is a part of nostalgic history. Will the profession of pharmacy follow the same path and just become a memory? I know I sound like a broken record…oh, another nostalgic moment out of the past. The records are all gone just like the eight tracks and cassettes. The future for pharmacists is not guaranteed, and I will keep repeating this warning until everyone understands the real possibility of the extinction of the profession and starts working to ensure our future.

Health care in America is going to be changing and changing with lightning speed, and our traditionally slow to change, health-system pharmacists, colleges of pharmacy, pharmacy associations, and retail pharmacies better be ready and amenable to change. However, we must be sure that any change includes pharmacists as health care providers. We do not need provisions to maintain the status quo, but provisions to allow all competent pharmacists to work as health care providers “assuring optimal outcomes for their patients.” We must be prepared to fight for our patients and our profession. We must be prepared to add value to the health care system. This is not the time to be nostalgic and talk of what pharmacy was or might have been; it is the time to be active. It is time to energize and move the profession forward swiftly as the profession did in the seventies and early eighties. Oh, another nostalgic moment…maybe I do need a vacation before continuing the transformation of our profession.

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