Why It Would Be an Honor to Serve You as President-Elect of The American Society for Pharmacy Law
DISCLAIMERS: I need to start off by saying this is not a political post. That and, ASPL does not necessarily endorse my candidacy or post. It’s my own history with the organization and opinions below along with facts sprinkled in.
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Once upon a time, back in 1974, a few pharmacist attorneys got together in Chicago, IL. One of them was Prof. Joseph Fink III. Together, they decided to meet up and form a group to discuss the following:
- Communicating accurate legal information to pharmacists;
- Fostering knowledge and education pertaining to the rights and duties of pharmacists; and
- Providing a forum for exchange of information pertaining to pharmacy law.1
And, the American Society for Pharmacy Law (ASPL) began.
Today, the goals of the organization are the following:
- Furthering legal knowledge
- Communicating accurate legal information to attorneys and pharmacists
- Fostering knowledge and education pertaining to the rights and duties of pharmacists
- Distributing information of interest to the membership via a newsletter and other appropriate publications
- Providing a forum for exchange of information pertaining to pharmacy law2
When I went to law school and started teaching pharmacy law to pharmacy students, I joined ASPL for all of these reasons. Law changes overnight and it’s nearly impossible to keep notes and textbooks up to date for pharmacy law in particular. Pharmacy is one of THE most highly regulated professions out there — except maybe for banking and securities (we are very particular about our money and drugs, apparently.)
This, coupled with going back to law school, getting ready to teach pharmacy law, and researching for a book I wrote on life science lawyers, I luckily was introduced to Prof. Fink, who in turn introduced me to ASPL. I joined, and am grateful to him for the introduction!
Teaching pharmacy law is kind of an isolating experience, because it doesn’t really fall into pharmacy science or pharmacy practice (often the only 2 departments at a pharmacy school) — it’s kind of a unique bird of a class, and it’s hard to teach, and typically, most other professors won’t touch teaching it because it’s not an easy class to teach. That and, it’s the only course that is directly tested in order for pharmacists to become licensed. The test in most states is called the MPJE. Everything else one learns in pharmacy school is tossed into another test, NAPLEX. That’s a LOT of pressure to put on one professor teaching ONE course, often only 1–3 credit hours for one semester! One needs a support system when starting to teach the course, and I found mine through ASPL.
In the recent past and after joining ASPL, I served on the board of directors at ASPL previously and co-chaired the pharmacy law educators subcommittee. I also worked with students to create a 50 state getting licensed in pharmacy resource guide, wrote my own Indiana Health Law Review note on the Case for Pharmacists as Providers under the Social Security Act, and helped to start an annual national survey of pharmacy law educators across US schools of pharmacy. And, I’ve worked inside CPE and have given CPE and CLE talks before about pharmacy law and privacy.
Now, this month in August, I’m running to serve as president-elect of the organization. It would be amazing to serve this organization into the next new decade. Why? Because now more than ever, we need pharmacists and attorneys who understand both sides of an issue to come together and explore best-case scenarios for the profession and healthcare. We need translators! (Sometimes I feel like one profession speaks a different language than the other.)
We need more online learning opportunities for the society — due to COVID-19 and our hectic schedules. They’ve started awesome online webinars, and we need to keep that momentum going. There are hundreds if not thousands of us now who need to earn relevant continuing education in both pharmacy and law — and no other society is as well-positioned to offer this rare CPE/CLE joint continuing education credit. I’d also like to help with getting more news out through our social media channels.
My candidacy aside, there’s an old saying that if you’re getting into pharmacy, you’re also getting into politics. I didn’t believe it when I first got out of pharmacy school….but now, having served pharmacy for over 20 years and law for less, I get it. Although ASPL is not a political organization and agnostic on issues, we need a venue by which to advocate for pharmacy. We need to protect our pharmacists, because they are truly front line caregivers. We need to demonstrate our value in pharmacy to the broader community, which we’ve done in COVID and will continue to do. But, we have more work to do in taking our profession of pharmacy back, the RIGHT legislative ways, and talking about our profession with the lawyers and lawmakers who maybe don’t or haven’t worked in a pharmacy about our value to society and patients. I’d love to help with this, and I think this would be a great way to serve.
Okay. Maybe this is a little political — but at the end of the day, I don’t really care what we call it, as long as we continue to step up and take care of our patients!
If you’re a member of ASPL, I’d welcome your vote — hopefully, I’ve demonstrated my past work in this post to provide background and qualifications. If you’re not a member and interested in the intersection of pharmacy and law, consider this an invitation to join the Society from me personally.
I hope you to see you there — online at a CPE/CLE webinar, while reading the great monthly newsletter, or one day into the future at a live meeting. We shall meet again!
Erin L. Albert is a pharmacist and attorney. Opinions above are her own, and not necessarily those of ASPL or any other employers, or her companies.