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A Message from the MPhA President

By Michelle Aytay

A MPhA President’s Agenda Then (1978) and Now

The Minnesota Pharmacists Association’s (MPhA) mission is to serve Minnesota pharmacists to advance patient care. Throughout the years, the health care landscape has evolved and pharmacists have become more engaged in providing direct patient care. As an association, MPhA has lead and supported pharmacists through our profession’s changes and although much has changed, much has also stayed the same.

Former MPhA President Lowell Anderson shared his president’s agenda from 1978 with me. As I read through his pages of wisdom and guidance, I was amazed by how much had changed in our profession; but then again, I was amazed by how much had stayed the same. I am going to share a glimpse of some of the similarities with you as well as how much has changed since 1978! I hope you enjoy this journey as much as me!

Lowell began his president’s agenda by mentioning that it was an extremely busy time for pharmacy; this definitely sounds familiar to today’s landscape! His agenda was 11 pages long and laid out 14 goals, so I will only share the “Cliff’s Notes” version. I will illustrate how MPhA’s agenda from 1978 parallels our agenda for this year. To do this, I will focus on the three goals that I presented in my president’s agenda for MPhA this year which are: 1. Continue and expand collaboration with stakeholders. 2. Develop future pharmacy leaders. 3. Advance pharmacy practice by expanding the role of the pharmacist in patient care. I think you will be amazed at how similar they are.

Let’s start with the first goal for this year, “continuing and expanding collaboration with stakeholders.” MPhA’s goal in 1978 looked very similar, “to have regular discussions between the profession and the college and the State Board.” A quick look back shows us that a lot has happened since 1978 — including the formation of the Pharmacy Advocacy Task Force (PATF), which is comprised of stakeholders from the profession, the college, and consists of regular communication with the state board.

The PATF, which is co-chaired under the leadership of MPhA Past President Jill Strykowski, has served as a body that represents “one voice” for pharmacy at the legislature. Although we are joined together as “one voice” for pharmacy, we heard loud and clear last legislative session that pharmacy needs to expand its stakeholders and collaborate with others. This year MPhA continues to co-lead the PATF and has been working tirelessly to reach additional stakeholders. We have already had discussions with the Minnesota Medical Association (MMA), physician stakeholders, key groups such as project Clear Way, big Pharma, the Board of Pharmacy and many legislators interested in advancing patient access to medications.

Another goal from 1978 was to “develop an allegiance of students to the practice and the association” so that students could understand MPhA and the importance of being involved. This brings us to our second goal this year, which is to develop future pharmacy leaders. Once again, a lot has changed since 1978; for example we now have the Minnesota Pharmacy Student Alliance (MPSA), which is a strong voice for student pharmacists. MPhA is working closely with MPSA. Recently, along with Past Presidents Molly Ekstrand and Jill Strykowski, I presented at an MPSA meeting. This meeting was planned by MPSA Policy and Advocacy Liaison (PAL) Kyler Anderson, and it provided an opportunity to share MPhA’s legislative agenda with the students. I am also presenting on behalf of MPhA at meetings in October and December. MPhA continues to work with pharmacy students to engage them in action and provide opportunities that show the importance of being involved and becoming future leaders. A great example of this is Legislative Day, which highly leverages the work of our students. The students develop the written materials to educate our legislators. Mark your calendars now for this year’s Legislative Day on February 27, 2018.

Our third goal this year for MPhA is to advance pharmacy practice by expanding the role of the pharmacist in patient care. This looks very familiar to a goal in 1978, which was “to create a positive public image of the practice of pharmacy.” When Lowell wrote this goal, he stated that one of the most significant professional problems was the abuse or misuse of prescription drugs.

Today, the national opioid epidemic is on the forefront of everyone’s minds. Only two years ago, naloxone became available in Minnesota pharmacies. MPhA is continuing to lead the charge when it comes to working with legislators and stakeholders to help pharmacists be part of the solution to the opioid epidemic. The third goal of MPhA this year is to advance pharmacy practice by expanding the role of the pharmacist in patient care. MPhA continues to work with PATF on this initiative and our priorities this year include pharmacist prescribing privileges for Naloxone, self-administered contraceptives, travel medications, and smoking replacement. In addition, we are supporting pharmacists as mental health professionals and pharmacist administration of injectable medications.

The successes of associations, as of people, are the sum of previous decisions. I will continue to build on the programs of previous leaders of the association while also providing leadership that respects the rapidly evolving health care delivery marketplace.

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