The World Speaks: Embracing the opportunity accompanying change

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The World Speaks: Embracing the opportunity accompanying change

By Michael Hogue - 05/03/2019
Change. Every time we hear the word, a series of emotions is released within us. Change brings about emotions of excitement, fear, anxiety, hopefulness and even joy. Pharmacy is a profession that is in the midst of perhaps the greatest changes experienced in more than 50 years. Sometimes, when monumental change happens — transformative change that literally redefines a person, process or profession — we must go through some intense storms.

Storms in life define us. How we handle difficulty in the process of change speaks a lot about our character, our core beliefs and our convictions. When these storms come, we can choose to buckle under the weight of the change and give up, or we can struggle through the change. Personally, I’ve found that it’s during the struggles that I tend to learn more, to deepen my beliefs and convictions, and to grow as a person.

And our profession is no different. The pain and difficulty of change in our profession is very, very real. In fact, some students and prospective students may be questioning if pharmacy was the right career choice. Let me assure those of you reading this message that, unequivocally yes, pharmacy is a great career choice. Why? Because there’s a breakthrough coming. How do I know this in the midst of the acute pain of today’s reality? Because for the first time in history, Congress and government agencies increasingly are recognizing the value of the pharmacist to the healthcare team. It’s only a matter of time before federal provider status is a reality. Physicians, nurses and consumers are advocating for pharmacists in the media, and even in legislatures. The outcomes literature is very strong in demonstrating the value of the pharmacist. More insurance companies and employers are paying pharmacists for ensuring appropriate medication therapy outcomes than ever before. All of this change has been incremental when viewed individually, but in total represents a seismic shift from the past, and one that our profession embraces. We are reaching what Daniel Pink called “The Tipping Point” towards our breakthrough.

Now I know that many of you reading this message are going to say, “What does this guy know? He’s an academic sitting in an ivory tower, and he has no clue what we’re experiencing in practice.” I can understand that perspective; yet, as a former independent pharmacy owner, a former Walgreens pharmacist, and having regularly done relief pharmacy staffing until just the past few years, I do feel I maintain a strong connection to community pharmacy practice. I’m an active member of the American Pharmacists Association and the National Community Pharmacists Association — both organizations are fighting hard for our profession. You’re right that I’m not in the trenches every day, however, I hope that these perspectives from my national involvement will give you some hope for the future.

After all, the pharmacy profession could use some hope.

I’m excited about the future of our profession, despite the realities of today because I see what’s coming. We must support our national associations through our membership and through active participation, so that they can fight for us in the state houses and in Washington, D.C. Let’s not give up hope, because our profession is right on the cusp of our breakthrough.

Michael Hogue, president-elect designate of the American Pharmacists Association and dean of Loma Linda University School of Pharmacy in Loma Linda, Calif.