Mary-Haston Leary, PY4
The practice of pharmacy is rapidly evolving. As the advancement of pharmacy practice gains momentum, it is important for student pharmacists to be able to answer questions about our profession concisely and in a way that can be readily understood by other health care professionals, members of the public and legislators.
In order to get the word out about our expertise and capabilities, students at the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy have formed the University of Mississippi Advocacy Committee (UMAC). Pharmacists must take an active role in generating ideas to be brought to the table in order to advocate for our profession. Student pharmacists, as the future of pharmacy, need to increase awareness and engagement in the current issues occurring in pharmacy. Goals of UMAC include: educating students on advocacy and policy, inviting legislators to our school to speak to students on current issues, educating legislators and society regarding the skills pharmacists are capable of, and advocating for policy that will advance not only pharmacy practice, but also health care in Mississippi.
The shortage of health care professionals must be addressed with the increasing demands on our health care system. As we know, pharmacists are highly trained to design safe and effective medication therapy regimens that are individualized to a patient’s needs. Given the demand for reform and a highly trained pharmacist workforce, pharmacists are increasingly engaged in health care teams and roles that move us toward the health care system of the future. UMAC strives to advocate for the profession, to contribute to the profession-wide goals of establishing recognition of pharmacists as patient care providers, creating billing mechanisms for patient care services, and implementing practice models in which pharmacists provide direct patient care at the level of their training.
Last May, four PY4 students, Cody Clifton, Lauren Lyles, Mary-Haston Leary and Alex Raymond, traveled to Washington D.C. to attend the National Community Pharmacists Association Legislative Conference through UMAC sponsorship. Through this experience, we were able to learn about current legislation affecting pharmacy practice, and gain skills on how to advocate for these bills to our congressmen. We had the opportunity to meet with the Representatives and Senators from Mississippi and Louisiana to discuss health care, the roles of pharmacists, and to explain and request their support of the legislation promoting pharmacy practice.
UMAC is now accepting student members! Please feel free to contact us at any time (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have ideas, suggestions or need any student assistance. We are reaching out to state professional organizations, in order to stay connected to pharmacy occurrences at the state level.