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President’s Desk
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A Message from the MPhA President

By Michelle Aytay

Thank you for the opportunity to serve the association, I am looking to another great year for MPhA! I want to start out by saying THANK YOU, then tell you a little about myself, then move on to where we have been as an association, where we are heading and how we will get there.

Thank You!

I have been blessed to be surrounded by and mentored by amazing pharmacy leaders in Minnesota. Thank you to those who have served as role models and friends and who have become my family. I am grateful and will continue to give back and continue to pay forward what you have started. I would especially like to thank Julie Johnson, Bruce Benson, Jeff Lindoo, Camille Kundel, and Rebecca Pickler, to name a few, and to also thank all the pharmacy students that I have had the opportunity to work with – you are our future and you inspire me! THANK YOU!

A Little About Me

I have been married to my best friend Art for 22 years and we have a strong, intelligent, beautiful 18-year-old daughter (no mom bias here!). Katie will start her freshman year at the University of St. Thomas this fall. I also like to say I have several other children (aka pharmacy students) who bring me joy and that I am proud of! I love giving back by working with pharmacy students and participating in community outreach events such as American Diabetes Association, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, and the American Heart Association. I also enjoy spending time boating and spending time with family and friends.

Where We Have Been

We are blessed as an association to have such dedicated volunteers who make up who we are today. Thank you to the entire board, past presidents, and members. I would also like to say a special thank you to our past president, Molly. We have had a great year under her leadership. I would like to share a quick story about Molly: during a PATF meeting this past year, Molly was wearing a necklace with a dragonfly on it and I asked her about it. She went on to explain what the dragonfly represents. She said that the dragonfly symbolizes wisdom, change, transformation, light and adaptability in life. The dragonfly shows up in people’s lives to remind them that they need to bring a lightness and a joy to their life. This is meant to inspire and motivate people to be flexible and adaptable in the situations that they come across in life. Wow, I thought as she shared this, what a great outlook and advice for the work we do at MPhA — be flexible and adaptable and do it with joy. Molly has been a great leader this past year and I recognize all she has done for the association and our profession!

Where We Are Heading

Now let’s talk about where we are heading. The Minnesota Pharmacists Association’s mission is Serving Minnesota Pharmacists to Advance Patient Care — and our vision is to be a vital organization of engaged Minnesota pharmacy professionals that will be recognized for leadership in advancing patient care.

Both our Mission and Vision include Advancing Patient Care. I would like to share a pictogram I created as a depiction of my goals for our upcoming year. It was intentional that Advancing Patient Care is at the center of the triangle.

As President, I am committed to supporting the association’s mission and vision through a three pronged approach.

Let’s start at the top of the triangle, with Goal 1: Develop Future Leaders.

I am passionate about developing future leaders and working with our students. As president, I will continue to do this, and MPhA will continue to be involved in supporting our students through active participation at the college, through organizations such as MPSA, in addition to hosting the leadership residents on a rotation at MPhA and working closely with the MPhA Student & Resident Relations Committee. MPhA is also committed to professional development, which is offered at our main conferences, the Annual Learning Networking Event & MTM Symposium offered in the Fall, the Leadership Summit & House of Delegates Meeting in the Summer, and Minnesota Pharmacy Legislative Day held during the heart of the legislative session. Outside of MPhA’s main conferences and events, we offer certificate programs on Immunizations and MTM, monthly webinars, an on-demand webinar library, statewide Town Hall Meetings and Online CE from the University of Minnesota.

Moving counterclockwise around the triangle to the lower left corner, one lesson we learned and heard loud and clear this past legislative session is that we need to improve our relationships with stakeholders. This brings me to Goal 2: Collaborating with Stakeholders. Molly did an excellent job with this last year, as she successfully brought health care providers together across the state. I will continue what she started and expand those collaborations to the Minnesota Department of Health, Minnesota Medical Association, Minnesota Nurses Association and community outreach groups, to name just a few.

Collaborating with stakeholders and strengthening these relationships will help us achieve Goal 3: Advancing Pharmacy Practice. MPhA continues to have a dedicated group of volunteers serving on the Public Affairs Committee, and we are once again blessed to have Past President Jeff Lindoo serve as a co-chair. MPhA is committed to continuing our advocacy agenda and work with the Pharmacy Advocacy Task Force. We have an aggressive agenda this year, carried over from last year. Our initiatives are to increase patient access to pharmacists’ services — including pharmacists’ ability to prescribe Naloxone, hormonal contraceptives, travel meds, and smoking cessation. I am confident we can make great progress toward these initiatives under the strong leadership of co-chairs Jill Strykowski and Rachel Root.

By strategically focusing on these three goals, we will accomplish our mission of improved patient care.

How Will We Get There?

“A ship is always safe at shore (or in the harbor) but that is not what it’s built for.” Albert Einstein.

This is one of my favorite quotes, and the first time I heard it used was by Admiral Giberson when he presented the Melendy lecture at the College of Pharmacy a few years back. The way we accomplish these goals is by sailing away from the safe shore and harbor and advocating for our profession and our patients.

There will be times when there are rough waters and we rock the boat and you know what… “We can’t be afraid to rock the boat once in a while; if someone falls out, then obviously they were never meant to be in your boat in the first place.”

Row the Boat

Which brings me back to my roots – I was born at the University of Minnesota and I am a proud alumni of the University of Minnesota! This past legislative session, I had an opportunity to meet new Gophers football coach PJ Fleck and his wife in the governor’s office. Coach Fleck was carrying an oar with “Row the boat” written on it. However, it wasn’t until recently that I discovered the meaning of his mantra. I would like to share that with you as it directly relates to what we are doing here at MPhA. “Row the Boat,” that’s Fleck’s mantra. But what does it mean?

Fleck explained, “Row the Boat is a never-give-up mantra.” But where did it come from? On Feb. 9, 2011, Fleck lost his second son, Colt, to a heart condition. Row the Boat originated after his son passed away. “As you hold your son as he passes away, your whole life changes. What you believe in, how you’ve believed in it, what you’ve done to that point, where you’re going to go and how you’re going to live your life all changes. But Row the Boat is really my second son’s life as I continue to live his life for him. It’s his life.” It’s a never-give-up mantra that has to do strictly with life or adversity or handling success, never giving up, and it means a few things:

“When you row a boat, you’re rowing; don’t ever look at me and paddle. That’s completely different. We’re rowing. Your back is to the future, which is something you cannot control, nor can you see. You have to trust the person in front of you, who you’re looking at, that they’re doing their job and rowing at the same speed, same efficiency as you are. But that’s the future, you can’t control that. You don’t know if there’s rocks, waterfalls, stormy seas, you don’t know what’s ahead of you. You’re rowing in the present, which is the only thing you can actually control, and the only thing you can actually have an impact on. You either choose to take your oars and put them back in the boat and stop, or you put them back in the water and continue to go. But you’re looking at the past, which is the only thing you can actually learn from. But you can’t change.

“There are three parts to rowing a boat: there’s an oar, there’s a boat and there’s a compass. The oar is the energy you bring to your life, your family, your team, your spiritual life, your personal life, your social life. It’s the energy. Energy breathes love. If you love something, you’re going to put a lot of energy into it.

“The second part is the boat. The boat is the sacrifice. What are you going to give up for something that you never had? The more you sacrifice, the more you give. Our program is about two things: serving and giving. The more you give, the bigger the boat gets, the more people you can put in it and the sturdier the boat gets. You can go through any waterfall, any storms, you can fall off waterfalls, you can do a lot more when you have a sturdy boat. But there’s going to be people who want to put holes in that boat.

“Then last but not least, the compass, which is the most important part for our young people, and that’s who you surround yourself with. Your compass is the direction of where your boat is actually traveling. But you’re traveling in the direction of people that you’re actually surrounded by, and you’ve got to be OK with your circle getting smaller as your life goes on by the decisions you make.”

Personally, I am inspired by his never-give-up attitude — and I hope you are too!


It is appropriate that the theme of this year’s MPhA Annual Learning Network Event and MTM Symposium is “Charting a Course for Change” and I look forward to seeing you all there! So, let’s row the boat, leave the shore and safe harbor, and sail into the 2017-2018 year with these three clear goals: Develop Future Leaders, Collaborate with stakeholders, Advance Pharmacy Practice — all with the purpose of supporting our mission and vision of advancing patient care!

Thank you again for this opportunity, I am looking forward to serving all of you


    Minnesota Pharmacists Association

    1000 Westgate Drive, Suite 252, St. Paul, MN 55114 | Phone: 651.697.1771 Fax: 651.290.2266 Email: info@mpha.org
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