A reflection on pharmacists’ advocacy in 2020

We hope that each of you are making the most of the season and are finding some comfort in what might be a very different holiday celebration. We here at The Grassroots Pharmacist didn’t anticipate writing an end of the year post, partly because so much of this had been played out and said elsewhere. And while we are all ready to turn the page on this year, we wanted to try and take some time to find things to be hopeful about. There are so many stories of pharmacists advancing health policy this year that gave us pause, gave us a reason to feel happy in 2020, and a reason to be hopeful in 2021. 

Make no mistake though, as we reflect on this past year, there’s a lot that comes to mind. There are shared moments of grief, frustration, and sadness. Long anxious nights that turned into lonely mornings. And as we look forward to January 2021, there’s a lot that we are ready to say goodbye to: Zoom meetings and virtual happy hours, social distancing, convincing our patients (and also probably our loved ones) why they need to wear a mask and follow public health guidelines, and if you’re anything like us, Friday evening press releases from CMS. But it says a lot about us as a people (and for our pharmacists readers, as a profession), that despite the hardships of the last year, so many of us remain optimistic and hopeful about the new year. That we remain willing to challenge ourselves and to incorporate the tough lessons we learned this year.

For all of us at The Grassroots Pharmacist, 2020 brought its own challenges both professionally and personally. We experienced the loss of loved ones, weathered the anxiety and stress of trying to care for patients at the expense of ourselves, and fought the daily struggles against anxiety, burnout, and possibly depression. And through it all, we are still trying to find our place in the changing health care landscape and in the profession at large. 

However, in the midst of the changes of the past year, each of us on this team found a calling in helping to educate members of our profession on the legislative and regulatory changes taking place during the public health emergency, and empowering individuals to better advocate for their patients. None of us are strangers to advocacy and we recognize the opportunities that exist when everything is changing. None of us expected to be authoring a blog at the start of the year, but looking back, we are incredibly thrilled not only to have this platform, but to have readers that have come along with us as we discussed health policy issues that could have consequential impacts on our profession. Here were some of our favorite posts of this past year: 

Posts that Focused on the Expanded Role for Pharmacists

  1. Pharmacists’ Ability to Provide Tests for SARS-COV-2
  2. Are Pharmacists Essential? Congress thinks so! 
  3. Pharmacist state scope of practice overruled by HHS
  4. Deja vu… Pharmacist State Scope of Practice Overruled by HHS: Take 2
  5. Changes to Pharmacist’s Incident to Billing and the Physician Fee Schedule 

Posts that Focused on Health Disparities and the Pharmacist’s Role in Addressing Them

  1. Reflections on Systemic Racism in America 
  2. The Assault on LGBTQ+ Healthcare Access
  3. Why Pharmacists Need to Count on the Census 
  4. Racial Differences in COVID-19 and the Potential for Pharmacists
  5. We Hold These Truths to be Self-Evident: Addressing Gender Inequality in the Profession of Pharmacy
  6. The Pharmacist’s Duty to Address Human Rights Abuses in Immigration Detention Centers

Posts that Focused on Why and How to be a Better Advocate

  1. Provider Status Explained: A Series Introduction 
  2. Provider Status Explained: Why do Pharmacists Need Provider Status 
  3. Provider Status Explained: Understanding the How Behind the Federal Legislative Strategy
  4. Advocacy Advice: How to Advocate Through Print Media 

Guest Writers: Content Submitted by YOU 

  1. Ariel McDuffie: The Basics of 340B and the Current Attacks on the Federal Drug Discount Program 
  2. Olivia C. Welter: Pharmacy Practice Without the Affordable Care Act
  3. John Little: Supreme Court Case 18540: Rutlege v Pharmaceutical Care Management Association 
  4. Larry Selkow: Racial Disparities During the COVID-19 Pandemic Continue 
  5. Matthew Westling: The Gap with Implementing Pharmacist Policy

Looking back at 2020, there is no doubt that we will remember the hardships and the struggle. But it’s important that we don’t lose sight of all the great strides that our profession has made. Even beyond these blog posts, it’s important we don’t lose sight of the biggest stories that pharmacy made this year. The stories of pharmacists serving each and every day on the front lines throughout the pandemic. Pharmacists who worked in emergency departments and medical ICUs taking care of patients diagnosed with COVID and saving countless lives. Pharmacists who set up COVID-19 testing sites in underserved communities, often without adequate personal protective equipment. Pharmacists who continue to play a major role in the largest vaccination effort in our nation’s history. Those are the stories that defined 2020 for our profession. And so while we look forward to the new year with a renewed sense of optimism for the profession, this year has reaffirmed that you have great power in your voice to advocate for the improvements in the healthcare system our patients deserve.

A sincere thank you to each of you for being a part of this journey with us. Wishing you the best in the New Year. 

-The Grassroots Pharmacist Team

Published by The Grassroots Pharmacist

We are pharmacists passionate about engaging pharmacists in advancing health policy

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