Pharmacy Students Push for Provider Status on Capitol Hill
Nearly 50 students visited 31 congressional offices on Capitol Hill earlier this month as part of ASHP’s Student Advocate Training & Legislative Day. The two-day conference, also known as SSHPTakesDC, gives student pharmacists hands-on experience in how to directly affect public policy. During meetings at the U.S. Capitol with members of Congress and legislative staff, the students made the case for provider status legislation, the Pharmacy and Medically Underserved Areas Enhancement Act (H.R.592 and S.314), by emphasizing how the pharmacy school curriculum and postgraduate residency training prepare future practitioners to be patient care providers. “I feel like we had a good impact,” said Winston Johnson, a third-year student at Palm Beach Atlantic University in West Palm Beach, Fla. “We met with a health LA [legislative aide] who didn’t know much about pharmacy. We took the time to tell her all about our training and got into how this bill will help patients.” Conference attendees also met with Rep. Earl “Buddy” Carter (R-GA), the only pharmacist serving in Congress. Carter praised the students for their foray into advocacy and encouraged them to stay engaged in the political process. “Politics are important to our profession,” he noted. Before going to Capitol Hill, students participated in an orientation session with ASHP’s Government Relations Division. The session featured an in-depth review of ASHP’s efforts to achieve provider recognition for pharmacists and emphasized the importance of maintaining an ongoing relationship with members of Congress and their staff. “I came to the conference to learn how I can impact patients’ lives through legislation,” said Eboni Ramsey, a third-year student at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. “I want to gain skills to not only advocate for the current issues, but to also carry this experience into my future practice as a pharmacist.” Inspired by their experience, conference attendees have already put their new skills into practice. Cassandra Painter, a third-year student at University of Charleston in West Virginia is working to schedule a follow-up meeting with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV). “This experience has shown me the responsibility we have, to both our patients and our profession, to educate others on the services we [pharmacists] are qualified to provide,” said Painter. Painter’s initiative reflects the type of leadership that will help student pharmacists become effective pharmacy leaders and advocates for their patients. “Students have the passion and drive to help lead the way on the important issues that affect pharmacists’ ability to provide care for patients,” said ASHP Senior Vice President and Interim Chief Operating Officer Kasey Thompson, Pharm.D., M.S., M.B.A.. “It’s so inspiring to see these ASHP student leaders in action, and it is clear after seeing their poise, passion, and professionalism during their visit to Capitol Hill that the future of the profession of pharmacy is going to be in very good hands.”Students can further explore their roles as political advocates at the upcoming ASHP Summer Meetings, June 11-15, in Baltimore. A networking session on Monday, June 13, will give students an opportunity to share campus and community initiatives to help build support for provider status.
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