News & Stories

Sara Dugan, Pharm.D.

The Importance of Advocating for Our Future

How can pharmacists advance their profession?

Each year, Northeast Ohio Medical University’s Student Society of Health-System Pharmacists chapter dedicates a week of meetings to focus on the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists’ (ASHP) Practice Advancement Initiative (PAI). The PAI recommendations were updated last year by ASHP as the tools pharmacists need to shape the future of the profession in the year 2030.

The session began with a debriefing on the Ohio Pharmacists Association Student Legislative Day, held in Columbus on Tuesday, Feb. 18. That day, students from all seven Ohio schools and colleges of pharmacy came together to learn about the legislative process and how to advocate for state laws that directly impact the profession of pharmacy. That afternoon, students attended meetings with state legislators to discuss current pharmacy legislation and other advocacy efforts focused on provider status and drug pricing transparency.

PAI week culminated on Friday, Feb. 21, with a presentation by  Sara Dugan, Pharm.D., an associate professor of pharmacy practice and psychiatry, who has been a leader in advocacy for pharmacy throughout her career. Dr. Dugan discussed how students can continue to advocate for pharmacy now that Student Legislative Day is over. She talked about different ways to stay involved in advocacy, including networking, staying informed, and sharing personal stories. She noted that students can also attend community outreach events held by legislators or follow them on social media.

Staying informed about what is currently going on in Columbus, Ohio, and Washington D.C. is another way to continue to advocate. The Ohio Legislature is a useful resource for anyone looking to learn more about Ohio’s legislators and the bills they sponsor or support.

Finally, it is important to share stories with our legislators about how these laws directly affect our patients and our practice. These anecdotes can help shape legislators’ stances on bills and ultimately whether or not the bill will pass.

Advocacy can help us shape the future of pharmacy and how we want our careers to look so we can provide optimal care for our patients.

We thank Dr. Dugan and other College of Pharmacy faculty members who are actively involved in advocating for the future of pharmacy.

— Erica McCoy, a third-year College of Pharmacy student, contributed this reflection.