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Student Pharmacists Advocacy and Relations (SPARx) Program

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, November 29, 2017
Advancing a career can be highly needed but extremely difficult to do, especially when you’re on the outside looking in. As one of the Student Directors of the Texas Pharmacy Association (TPA) representing Texas Tech School of Pharmacy, and with the guidance of TPA, my goal is to advocate for the advancement of pharmacy practice. Why does this need to be done? Pharmacists are highly trained and well versed individuals who have spent four or more years learning about medications, including when to use them, how to use them, how they work, etc. When pharmacists graduate and go into this amazing career field, we are struck with limitations that do not allow us to practice at our level of education. For example, if a patient is wanting to go out of the country, they will most likely need travel medications. To get these, they would have to make an appointment and take more time and money than they need to, to see a physician. In another scenario, what if a patient is feeling sick with a common condition such as strep throat, a common cold, or the flu? As of right now, they would have to go through the same process as they would to get their travel medication; that is, make an appointment with their doctor and take time out of their day to visit the physician for a routine illness. What if a patient could come to the pharmacy, have a pharmacist look up what medications are needed for travel to specific countries, or as in the second scenario, run a quick test and prescribe the patient what they need, if a positive test, and have the patient on their way or feeling better in just a few days?


This is why advocacy through the Texas Pharmacy Association is critical. The TPA Academy of Student Pharmacists is promoting advocating for the profession from several angles through the Student Pharmacists Advocacy and Relations (SPARx) Program. This program is broken up into three sections to be completed over the course of the 2017-2018 school year. The first section, to be completed by December, is the “community” section. The two remaining sections will be completed in the spring.  The second and third sections are the “interprofessional” section, where we will promote pharmacy to other health care professionals, and the “regulation” section, where we will study pharmacy regulation and legislation. With each of the three sections, a student director from each school of pharmacy will host a seminar to explain the individual sections and what we, as students, are working to accomplish. Each section also has a mini-project and a short written reflection. For the community portion, students must make a presentation to educate the communities in which we reside about the training and education needed to become a pharmacist and the roles we can play in everyday life. After the mini-project has been presented or submitted online, students will write the reflection covering what they got out of it and what they think the community learned. When all three sections (community, interprofessional, and regulation) have been completed, students will receive an advocacy certificate that recognizes their efforts in advancing the pharmacy practice.


In a few short years, we as students, will be fully submerged into the profession of pharmacy. After studying hours on end, experiencing stress like we have never had before, and taking test after test in pharmacy school, why would we want to be so limited? Why would we work so hard for our doctoral degree if we do not want to use all this pertinent information to help patients to the best of our ability? I believe I can speak for most students and say that we do not want these limitations and restrictions. It can start at the ground level with pharmacy students and work its way up to improved patient care at a state and national level.


Submitted by

Lucas Cannon

TTUHSC TPA Student Director

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In Defense of Pharmacy

Posted By Yasmine Alhasan, Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Hundreds of exams. Countless quizzes. Endless late nights and early mornings. Every pharmacy student has been there. We are hard workers and silent strategists. We take pride in understanding medications and their disease states, and we love our kinetics.


As a current fourth year student in pharmacy school, I feel as though I have been able to immerse myself within my profession. I have learned so much throughout this journey and I have waited for this moment for such a long time, to be in my final year. The excitement rolls in and reality begins to quickly set in. Within this territory of being so close to graduation, I am consistently being asked about my plans in regards to pharmacy practice. Regardless of what my response is, I already know that at least half of the individuals asking the questions will tell me that I am making the wrong decision. I understand that these types of sentiments are most likely commonplace regardless of the profession, but in the practice of pharmacy, we tend to take it a step further.


For those not familiar with the profession, pharmacy practice allows numerous opportunities in several different types of fields. Residencies, fellowships, community practice, pharmaceutical sales, consultant pharmacy, and independent pharmacy are all options, just to name a few. One of the main reasons why I chose to become a pharmacist is because I like having options, and I like knowing that regardless of what I choose to do, there is always opportunity to expand and learn about a new part of my profession.


Currently, depending upon where a pharmacist practices, some are unable to fully utilize their doctoral-level skills due to different laws across state lines. Again, as this may be true for several professions, with the profession of pharmacy, the difference in law is prominent. Numerous data is available indicating how beneficial pharmacists are when integrated within the healthcare team and the tremendous cost-saving healthcare outcomes we provide when working alongside other healthcare professionals. The laws are adapting and the profession continues to expand and develop.


Despite the laws that may currently tie our hands, I firmly believe that we as a profession are our biggest hindrance. We are segregated within our own lines of practice. We believe that what we are doing is the most important thing for the profession and have lost sight in what makes our profession so unique in the first place. Retail pharmacy practice is just as important as critical care pharmacy practice. Independent pharmacies are vital for our communities. Pharmacists are needed in field of industry for continued growth and development. All of these roles were established because they are needed.


We are there during medical rounds. We are part of the healthcare professional team. We save lives. We are there, but to some extent still invisible. We roll our eyes when someone asks if we actually have a doctorate degree, and we become frustrated when the medical resident ignores our input. We become frustrated when we have to convince everyone else of our value, so why do we do it to each other? I have worked alongside brilliant pharmacists in every aspect of the profession. I am in awe of how much opportunity and growth my profession allows, and I hope that my fellow colleagues see this as well.


When you choose to make a condescending statement about an area of practice that differs from yours, know that you made a decision, and that you chose against the profession. I know some people might be thinking, “Why such a bold statement?” Well, because I am tired, and I know that many of you are too. One area of practice is not greater than the other. We all work to contribute to health and wellness by providing exceptional patient care. When we lose sight of this vision and start repeating this sentiment of, “Mine is better than yours”, we are enabling and teaching the next generation of pharmacists to do the same, and are doing a great disservice to ourselves.


Many other healthcare professionals practice in different areas depending upon their interests. Although they may have different opinions, they are still working together as team and supporting each other. The urologist, neurologist, plastic surgeon, and even the “doc in a box” are on the same team. They are politically active by joining associations and staying vetted in their similar interests, together.


I recognize the importance of diversity and skill set within our profession, as do many of my colleagues. However, we should utilize this diversity to support each other instead of breaking each other down.


My hope is that one day when we student pharmacists transition into preceptors for the next generation of students, that we can teach this same philosophy and continue forward into growth, and onwards into positive change.


Yasmine Alhasan
Pharm.D Candidate
Texas Pharmacy Association
President of the Student Board of Directors


Yasmine is a fourth year student pharmacist at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center School of Pharmacy, in Dallas, Texas.

Tags:  pharmacy provider status residency profession  student pharmacist 

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