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September 19, 2016

Pharmacy Academia Star Urges Other Women to Follow Their Passions

Editor’s Note: This is the third story in a series examining the growing number of women in pharmacy leadership and ASHP’s work to support them.

Marie Chisholm-Burns, Pharm.D., M.P.H., MBA, FASHP, FAST, FCCP

Marie Chisholm-Burns, Pharm.D., M.P.H., MBA, FASHP, FAST, FCCP

ONE OF THE BEST THINGS about pharmacy as a profession is the great diversity of career tracks that are available, according to Marie Chisholm-Burns, Pharm.D., M.P.H., MBA, FASHP, FAST, FCCP, Dean of the College of Pharmacy, University of Tennessee Health Science Center.

Dr. Chisholm-Burns, a well-known and highly respected clinical researcher with well over 100 published articles, more than a dozen books, and many awards to her name, pursued academic pharmacy from her earliest days in the profession. After earning both her B.S. in Pharmacy and Pharm.D. at the University of Georgia College of Pharmacy, Dr. Chisholm-Burns found that she loved the academic setting and was intrigued by the role of educator.

“Although I had summer jobs in community pharmacy, worked in a hospital pharmacy during pharmacy school, and then did a residency with a practice component after pharmacy school, I always wanted to be a teacher,” she said, adding that academia allowed her to follow her passions of practicing pharmacy, pursuing scholarly endeavors, and working with students.

The most compelling aspect of her work is its variety. “There’s something new every day — new challenges, new opportunities,” she said. “Being around students, where you can ask and answer questions, is like being at a playground for someone like me.”

Dr. Chisholm-Burns’ excitement about advancing interprofessional education is a key driver in her success as a healthcare provider. As demands for advanced clinical pharmacy services in hospitals and health systems increase, the profession is being challenged to train more pharmacists who can work as part of interprofessional care teams. And, according to Dr. Chisholm-Burns, pharmacy education is where good patient care actually begins.

Creating Influence via Publishing
Dr. Chisholm-Burns is well-known as a prolific researcher and academician. She views publishing as an indispensable way to elevate the visibility of pharmacists’ patient care roles and influence others within and outside of the pharmacy profession.

“You can teach one-on-one. You can learn one-on-one. But it would be a crime to keep it to yourself. For the benefit of patients, it’s essential to publish … even though it’s a lot of work,” she added with a laugh.
Publishing increases the prominence of both the individual pharmacist and the profession as a whole. “We need to think about the best ways to inform others about what we do to improve medication use, contribute to wellness, and even save lives,” Dr. Chisholm-Burns noted. “We need to do more than just preach to the choir” and write for other pharmacists.

“We’ve got to get it out to Better Homes and Gardens, columns in local newspapers, too … To me, education is key to everything. If we don’t tell the story, who will?”

Helping Others Break the Glass Ceiling
Dr. Chisholm-Burns acknowledges that women and minorities sometimes have different challenges to become leaders. Because of this, each female and minority pharmacist in a leadership position tends to hold outsized influence for those coming up in the profession. “When you don’t see leaders who resemble you, you think it’s impossible to do,” she noted. “But if you see a woman leader, it can spark the thought, ‘I can do that too.’”

Although breaking the glass ceiling is important, Dr. Chisholm-Burns believes it is merely the first step on a long journey toward professional leadership; having mentors, sponsors, and role models along the way is a critical component of being successful. “Remember,” she added, “success is a journey, not a destination.” And along the journey, Dr. Chisholm-Burns believes in the power of giving back.

“It’s all about helping others go through that door that you helped to open” and understanding the special issues that women face, such as balancing work and family. She acknowledges that there is still disparity in terms of family roles that can make it challenging to climb the career ladder.

“A woman with three children is going to have different professional challenges than her counterparts who may not have children,” she said, acknowledging that, although the culture is changing to accommodate work-life balance, it’s changing slowly.

The concept of workforce inclusivity is a topic that also warrants more attention, according to Dr. Chisholm-Burns. Although diversity has increased in the pharmacy profession, inclusivity that ensures a clear path to leadership and that draws on the talents of all women still lags behind. “Inclusivity means asking, ‘How can I make this young parent feel like she doesn’t need to choose between family and serving on this board?’”

Dr. Chisholm-Burns recommends that pharmacy leaders take a birds-eye view of management within their organizations to understand the trends for advancement of women in pharmacy leadership. “We need to look at the higher-level jobs and see who fills them and at what age,” she said. “For years, a large percentage of graduating pharmacy classes has been women. Given this, why are there so few women hospital directors or CEOs?”

According to Dr. Chisholm-Burns, the pharmacy profession needs to begin examining the issues of inclusivity and career advancement options for women. She also believes that organizations like ASHP are in the best position to facilitate those conversations.

Follow Your Passion
Dr. Chisholm-Burns has some sage advice for student pharmacists, new practitioners, or seasoned pharmacists who may be considering a career in academia: Follow your passion. “If your passion is teaching, ask yourself ‘why?’ Is it the investigating, discovering, changing students’ lives? Is publishing something you want to do? Then academia may be the place for you,” she said.

And, in looking back at her career, Dr. Chisholm-Burns finds great value in her academic path. “I always wanted to go someplace where I’d make the biggest contribution, and academia has been that for me. It’s been a wonderful journey.”


–By Ann W. Latner, J.D.

February 11, 2013

ASHP Headquarters Named to Honor Dr. Joseph A. Oddis

Filed under: From the CEO,Home — Tags: , , , — jmilford @ 10:30 am

Paul W. Abramowitz, Pharm.D., Sc.D. (Hon.), FASHP

TODAY, I AM PLEASED TO MAKE a very special announcement to the members of ASHP.

At its January meeting, the Board of Directors voted unanimously to name the ASHP headquarters building, here at 7272 Wisconsin Avenue in Bethesda, Md., after the man who led our organization for 37 years: Dr. Joseph A. Oddis.

As of now, the headquarters of ASHP will be known as the Joseph A. Oddis Building. The building will be dedicated at a ceremony to be held this spring.

There could not be a more fitting person to receive this honor. Dr. Oddis’ leadership over nearly four decades helped make ASHP the strong, vibrant, growing, and influential organization it is today. Joe’s vision for what ASHP could be and the important role we could play in shaping pharmacy practice, improving patient care, and influencing public policy to improve public health set this organization on the path it still follows today.

Here are just a few significant achievements from Dr. Oddis’ career and his legacy to ASHP:

  • Joined ASHP in 1960 as Executive Secretary, later to be renamed Chief Executive Officer.
  • Leading ASHP’s growth from 3300 members and a staff of 1 (himself!) to 31,000 members and a staff of 180.
  • Developing a staff culture that focuses on serving our members in a respectful, team-based approach, with a commitment to excellence.
  • Growing ASHP’s education services, launching the national meetings that would become the ASHP Summer Meeting and the ASHP Midyear Clinical Meeting, now the largest meeting of pharmacists in the world.
  • Building upon ASHP’s early support of international efforts to improve pharmacy practice, including serving as president of FIP from 1986 – 1990.
  • Improving pharmacy practice and raising the visibility and status of ASHP by recognizing the importance of practice standards. Under Dr. Oddis’ stewardship, ASHP worked with practitioners to develop and publish nearly 100 practice standards, guidelines, technical assistance bulletins, and position papers.
  • Helping promote the concept of formularies and the acceptance of pharmacy and therapeutics (P&T) committees in the early 1960s by building consensus among key stakeholders, including the American Hospital Association, the American Medical Association, the American Pharmacists Association, and ASHP.  In 1965, Medicare based its standards on ASHP’s statements and standards and The Joint Commission deemed an active P&T committee essential for hospital accreditation.
  • Establishing ASHP’s pharmacy residency accreditation program, now celebrating its 50th anniversary. Today, ASHP has 1,582 pharmacy residency programs and 246 pharmacy technician training programs in the accreditation process. In 2012, there were more than 2,500 residents in a PGY1 or PGY2 residency program.
  • Creating the ASHP Research and Education Foundation, which today offers extensive research grant, educational, and awards programs that assist and recognize pharmacists providing care to patients in our nation’s hospitals and health systems, leading to optimal medication outcomes.
  •  Expanding ASHP’s publishing efforts:
    • Introducing the American Hospital Formulary Service (AHFS), which has gained national recognition as the most comprehensive resource of unbiased drug information, and recognized by the U.S. Congress as an official compendium.
    • Introducing International Pharmaceutical Abstracts (IPA), which was published by ASHP from 1964 to 2004.
    • 1964 publication of Mirror to Hospital Pharmacy, which has developed into the ASHP National Survey of Hospital and Health-System Practice.
  • Building ASHP’s leadership and influence by collaborating with other pharmacy and health care organizations and government regulatory agencies on the important issues of the time, including the American Hospital Association, the American Nurses Association, the American Society of Internal Medicine, The Joint Commission, the Food and Drug Administration, and the agency that administered Medicare, among others.

Please join me in thanking Dr. Oddis for his dedication to ASHP and the profession of pharmacy.


January 2, 2013

Achieving Provider Status for Pharmacists

Paul W. Abramowitz, Pharm.D., Sc.D. (Hon.), FASHP

ACHIEVING PROVIDER STATUS under Section 1861 of the Social Security Act is important for the profession. It is essential to recognize pharmacists for the patient-care providers that they already are, along with other formally recognized providers, such as nurse practitioners, dietitians, psychologists, social workers, optometrists, nurse-midwives, dentists, and others.

The data are conclusive: Pharmacists improve medication-use outcomes for patients when they are included on the patient-care team. A recent report by the office of the Chief Pharmacist of the United States Public Health Services makes a compelling case for using pharmacists more effectively in the care of patients. Therefore, a logical next step is making the services pharmacists provide eligible for recognition and payment by Medicare, Medicaid, and other third-party payers, including states and private health plans.

Pharmacists today are clinical practitioners who provide distinct direct patient-care services, serving as both pharmacy generalists and specialists. This fact is not in dispute. However, laws often lag far behind mainstream practice and technology. In today’s health care environment, where improving quality of care and decreasing costs are the focus of health care reform, there could not be a better time to recognize pharmacists as providers and as the medication-use experts on the interprofessional team.

Achieving provider status will not be easy. It will take a massive grassroots effort by individual pharmacy practitioners and affiliated state societies leading state-based coalitions. Federal legislators need to see, in their districts and states, pharmacists providing the patient-care services they seek for recognition and payment. Achieving provider status will also require a strong and cohesive national coalition of pharmacy organizations, consumer groups, and other health care organizations that understand the value pharmacists bring to the care of the American people.

During ASHP’s Legislative Day in September, ASHP members met with their representatives on Capitol Hill to discuss provider status, with the goal of setting the stage for a broad-based provider status campaign in 2013. Now and in the coming months the CEOs of the national pharmacy organizations are meeting to discuss how we can work together to pool our resources and collective energies to achieve success on this issue. I am absolutely certain that our organizations must work together to advocate for and achieve provider status. It is also important to recognize that achieving provider status will require a multi-year strategy that includes a strong and unwavering coalition at the state and national levels.

Stay tuned for updates on our progress on this top-priority strategic issue for ASHP. Please also start thinking about ways that you as future recognized providers are going to demonstrate to your elected officials in Washington, D.C., the great work you are doing to achieve optimal medication therapy outcomes for your patients and to decrease health care costs.

Best wishes for a Happy New Year!

November 5, 2012

Reflections on the NECC Compounding Tragedy

Paul W. Abramowitz, Pharm.D., Sc.D. (Hon.), FASHP

I, LIKE MOST OF YOU, CONTINUE TO FOLLOW the news out of Framingham, Mass., as more is learned about the operations at the New England Compounding Center (NECC).

What investigators are finding—unsatisfactory conditions, shipping of product before the results of sterility testing were known, and inattention to other known safeguards—deeply upsets me. These types of practices are totally unacceptable anywhere, at any time. The patients who relied on these medications deserved much better, and our sympathies go out to all of the affected patients and their families. But condolences cannot begin to replace their losses. Enhanced safeguards must be put into place so that this does not happen again.

Having said this, however, it’s important to note that I am also concerned that compounding by pharmacists—a practice that is essential to patient care—may be broadly called into question. Compounding and pharmacy are inextricably linked.

From preparing a topical cream to the complex processes involved in preparing sterile products, compounding happens every day in every hospital and health system. What happened at NECC does not reflect the professionalism and commitment to patients provided by pharmacists throughout the country. We cannot allow what happened there to shape the public perception of a critical element of patient care.

ASHP has a long history of pushing for the highest standards for compounding and sterile product preparation in hospitals. In the early 1990s, we began publishing practice recommendations in AJHP. We published the “ASHP Technical Assistance Bulletin on Quality Assurance for Pharmacy-Prepared Sterile Products (TAB)” in 1993. The TAB established the three-tier risk assessment structure that was later adapted by USP for use in the <797> standards for sterile compounding. Our guidelines on outsourcing sterile compounding services urge pharmacy departments to conduct due diligence when outsourcing compounding services.

It is essential for the safety of all patients that all pharmacies that compound medications, regardless of the setting, adhere to the very highest standards. In addition, state boards of pharmacy will need additional resources to provide strict oversight of compounding pharmacies and provide more transparency.  And when companies cross the line from compounding to manufacturing, there needs to be enhanced coordination between state boards and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ensure that the necessary regulatory scrutiny is applied.

We know the important role that compounding plays in patient care, but we have a fair amount of work to do to restore the public’s trust after this tragic event. As hospital and health-system pharmacists, we have always taken the lead in medication safety in our practice settings, ensuring that our patients can always depend upon us. ASHP pledges to work diligently to restore that trust and to help prevent a tragic and unfortunate event like this from ever happening again.

September 6, 2012

The Power of Policy: Pathways to the Future

Paul W. Abramowitz, Pharm.D., Sc.D. (Hon.), FASHP

SOMETIMES, WHEN PEOPLE THINK of the word “policy,” they think of “red tape,” bureaucracy, or an arduous process. However, when I think about the word policy, a different connotation comes to mind. I think about how much has changed in our profession since I first became an ASHP member 35 years ago, and I reflect upon the policies that helped to get us here.

Clinical pharmacy practice, the entry-level doctor of pharmacy degree, specialization, pharmacists providing direct patient care in clinics and other ambulatory settings, collaborative practice agreements, barcode medication administration, electronic clinical information systems, and so many more advancements in our profession started with just one thought: How can we do things better? And, that thought, driven by policy turned into action, ultimately led to change.

At the root of all professional advancements and change are the policies that guide us there.

Change in pharmacy practice does not just happen. It is carefully crafted, nurtured and re-evaluated over and over – even after success.

Today, ASHP stands strong as an organization adaptable and responsive to the changing needs of our patients as well as the changing demands within health care as whole. And, it is all because of you, our members. You make this happen. Through ASHP’s professional policy process, our members do not just play a significant role in bringing new and innovative ideas to the forefront of pharmacy practice; they are the catalysts for our efforts.

In June, there were several groundbreaking policies that came before the ASHP House of Delegates for debate that will make similar strides for pharmacy practice, including policies related to pharmacist prescribing, board certification, and licensing and training of pharmacy technicians. All of these were inspired by the recommendations of ASHP’s Pharmacy Practice Model Initiative (PPMI). I’d like to share some thoughts about them with you.

While these policies concern different aspects of practice, they have one thing in common: a shared vision for the future of the profession in which pharmacists are essential members of every health care team, helping our patients with our deep and extensive knowledge about all aspects of medication therapy.

The policies regarding pharmacist prescribing puts this activity in context of the pharmacist’s role on the interprofessional team and clearly states that prescribing is a complex function that requires pharmacists to have specific skills and competencies. The policy regarding board certification addresses the growing demand for board-certified pharmacists and sets a new expectation that pharmacists should become certified by the Board of Pharmacy Specialties (BPS) if they practice in a specialty in which BPS offers certification.

And the policies regarding pharmacy technicians take a strong stand on requiring licensure, as well as specialized training for advanced roles. These technician positions are an outgrowth of ASHP’s Pharmacy Technician Initiative and should serve to strengthen ASHP’s advocacy for standards for training, certification, and licensure.

These are just a few examples of the forward-thinking policies that ASHP members have conceptualized and that were brought before the House of Delegates. Although some of these concepts might seem far-reaching to some of us today, it is easy to imagine that these ideas will one day be part of routine practice, and that a new set of future-oriented policies to advance the profession for the betterment of patients will be brought before future ASHP Houses of Delegates. We look forward to working with our members and our state affiliates in creating a future in which these policies are the standard operating procedure.

Please take a look at these summaries, and review the professional policies that were recently finalized by the ASHP House of Delegates:


A) Pharmacist Prescribing in Interprofessional Patient Care

Defines pharmacist prescribing as patient assessment and the selection, initiation, monitoring, adjustment, and discontinuation of medication therapy pursuant to diagnosis of a medical disease or condition; further, The policy also advocates that health care organizations establish credentialing and privileging processes to ensure competency.

B) Qualifications and Competencies Required to Prescribe Medications

Affirms that prescribing is a collaborative process that, if performed collaboratively, requires that competent, interdependent professionals complement each others’ strengths at each step. The policy also suggests the creation of prescribing standards that would apply to all prescribers, and encourages research on the effectiveness of educational processes currently available.

Board Certification:

Board Certification for Pharmacists

This policy, recommended by the ASHP Section of Clinical Specialists and Scientists, supports the principle that pharmacists practicing in formally recognized specialty areas should become BPS certified in that specialty. Among other things, the policy also calls for BPS to prioritize recognition of new specialties in areas that have a sufficient number of PGY2 residencies and existing training programs.

Pharmacy Technicians: 

A) Licensure of Pharmacy Technicians 

Advocates for licensure of pharmacy technicians by state boards of pharmacy, as well as the development of uniform state laws and regulations and mandatory completion of an ASHP-accredited training program as a prerequisite to licensure.

B) Qualifications of Pharmacy Technicians in Advanced Roles 

Advocates that beyond completing an ASHP-accredited training program, certification and licensure, pharmacy technicians working in advanced roles should have additional training and should be required to demonstrate competencies specific to these tasks.


Once these new policies take root and grow to become the norm across health care and the nation, imagine their impact on the practice of pharmacy and how they will give us new tools to enhance patient care. Further, imagine all the future creative enhancements in the care delivery process that they will set in motion. Think back to some of the policies approved by our House of Delegates in the past and what they have led us to achieve.

Then, begin using these new policies to create the future.

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