Student pharmacists connect with national leaders, discuss health care advocacy

SPOKANE, Wash. – Student pharmacists engaged with their federal representative Tuesday about how pharmacists can do more, and how expanding their services is key to addressing the nation’s need for accessible, quality health care.

Students interacting at career seminar

“You have one of the true champions for pharmacy in Congress sitting right here on this stage,” said pharmacy advocate Steven Anderson, who joined Washington State University student pharmacists in a roundtable discussion with Washington’s U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers.

Representatives at career seminarThe gathering was part of the WSU College of Pharmacy’s efforts to offer innovative solutions to address the evolving needs of health care across the country. They brought McMorris Rodgers and Anderson together to expose student pharmacists in Spokane to the importance of building relationships with their government representatives and professional associations.

Students in the WSU Doctor of Pharmacy program had the opportunity to ask questions about what they can do to help break down barriers to changing policy, and how pharmacy can play a larger role in the health care delivery system.

Gary Pollack, dean of the College and moderator for the event, urged students to be involved with public policy when they become pharmacists.

“It is important for me to have relationships with those people that I represent,” said McMorris Rodgers. She emphasized to student pharmacists that the decisions made at all levels of government can be impacted by their involvement. “I spend a lot of my time touring and meeting people so I am more informed.”

“More than 80 percent of Americans live within five miles of a pharmacy, and pharmacists are the second most-trusted profession, nursing being the first,” Anderson said. As CEO of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, Anderson echoed the comments of McMorris Rodgers and Pollack encouraging student pharmacists to get active in advocating for how pharmacists practicing at the top of their license can contribute to the nation’s health care solutions.

According to McMorris Rodgers, with the hundreds of initiatives on the list the biggest challenge to addressing these health care policy problems is getting it to be “the priority”.

“If pharmacy is playing a larger role, they need to be recognized in the health care delivery system,” said McMorris Rodgers, and the best way to achieve that recognition is to meet people and build relationships.

The conversation regarding pharmacy, health care, ACA and policy was part of the WSU College of Pharmacy’s “Preparing for Your Career in Pharmacy Seminar Series”, which exposes student pharmacists to leaders and entrepreneurs who provide students with their vision of how the profession is evolving and the opportunities that exist for future pharmacists to change and advance the practice of pharmacy.