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First Educate…Then Advocate

Dec 01, 2008

            You’ll notice on the next page a series of pictures of ASHP ’s recent Legislative Day, Sept. 27. In all, members held more than 100 meetings with Congress members and their legislative staff to educate them on pharmacists’ critical patient-care role.

            Members started early, with a breakfast meeting featuring Leigh Ann Ross, a pharmacist and healthcare legislative assistant in the office of Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.). And they finished late—tired but excited to have connected with key decision makers.

            It’s an exhausting day—not just because of the long hours, but because we ask members to step far outside of their comfort zones. We ask them to be ready to talk about the Society’s legislative priorities and to transform themselves into lobbyists for a day. And it works! Because of what our members do each year, and the continual work of our government affairs staff, Congress is more aware of the ways in which pharmacists improve patient care.

            Whether you’re walking the halls of Congress or inviting a local representative into your hospital to observe how your pharmacy works, I believe it’s vital to educate, then advocate. I also believe that effective advocacy starts with certain assumptions, including that:

  • One person with an idea can initiate change,
  • Most legislators want to positively affect the lives of their constituents (aka your patients), and
  • Legislators are not well-versed in medication use, patient safety, pharmacists’ changing roles, or health-system pharmacy professional issues.

It’s up to all of us to educate decisionmakers, including our elected officials, about the best care for patients.

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