Why You Need to Associate with Associations — STAT

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What I’m about to say is completely — in full disclosure — biased, because I work for an association. But long before I did work for an association, the me before would definitely STILL agree with the me now on the advice I’m about to give (because I was actively involved in several of them), which is this: It’s CRUCIAL for pharmacists and ALL professionals to join and be active members of associations, and there’s never been a more CRITICAL time to do so.

Allow me to try and remove my bias and explain — in the context of my own first profession, pharmacy.

This past week, a large retailer laid off and will continue to lay off about 40% of its pharmacy workforce. At first, the lay media was NOT discussing it. Now, there have been a few main stream media outlets FINALLY covering it. But if we don’t join associations and have them share what’s going on with us, relying on the main stream media anymore is a very, very dangerous prospect. They’re fixed on showing us mind-numbing distractions — like cat videos. (And who doesn’t love a good cat video? But seriously — we have to PAY ATTENTION to what’s really going on around us. Main stream media doesn’t care.)

Associations are straight shooters. They’ll tell you what’s going on out there LONG before the main stream media does anymore. Especially when there are big corporate machines doing the damage to a trade or a profession, because they’ve most likely bought and paid for manipulating the main stream media to NOT discuss critical topics like major layoffs.

This week, I discussed this problem and my frustration with the main stream media on a show called Indiana Issues with my good friend, Abdul-Hakim Shabazz. If we rely on the ‘truth’ coming from main stream media anymore, we’re doomed. That’s why it is so important for all of us to be in the social media mix too. I’m grateful that we have social media now, for this reason alone (among many others), and despite the fact that many think social media is the devil. (Like any tool, it can be used for good AND evil.)

This is also why it’s so important to be a member of an association. Associations know what’s going on behind the scenes inside the sausage factory before those of us working stiffs do. They’re typically off fighting Congress and state legislatures about what it is that professions do and more important, what they CAN do and be — you are investing in a profession’s future and your own livelihood by helping the association fight for you. And if you just work on the fringes of associations as a free or unpaid member, you’re not maximizing your time or your advocacy. (You can read why I personally why I think Free Sucks here.)

For example, in pharmacy, we’re always talking about provider status for pharmacists under the Social Security Act — I wrote about this back in law school which is nearly a decade ago now, and we still don’t have it! I do firmly believe there are more things as pharmacists we could be doing for patients beyond dispensing — like administering vaccines, and going out into the community and assisting senior patients and their families with medication management and streamlining through collaborative practice. But the laws that support this elevated practice aren’t quite there yet. Congress and law makers don’t see what we see. So, someone has to go in and share what we are capable of — and the only orgs that do that are trade associations. (It’s not employers, unless they clearly see the profit they can make on something, then go hire high priced lobbyists to do the work on their behalf and for their interests — -not necessarily yours.)

Associations also offer the best and most innovative certifications and training. For example, for the first time ever, we at ASCP are offering the BESCPC — or a certification for Business & Entrepreneurship in Senior Care Pharmacy Certification — which will launch with prework, and tackle 2 areas of pharmacy with unmet needs: 1. New practice models for senior care pharmacists, and 2. Business & entrepreneurship/start up acumen. ASCP also had an inaugural leadership book club this year, with exposure to learners of major players and leaders in US pharmacy. The book club was open to members ONLY. As soon as we sent out the email — it practically filled itself! But if you’re not a member, how will you ever know that these opportunities exist?

Last, associations are critical to hear and see what trends are ongoing in employment. Let’s be honest — when you attend an association meeting, you hear what’s REALLY going on out in companies. You’re never going to see or hear it online, but you’d definitely catch the scuttlebutt at an association meeting.

Is that collusion? No! It’s just the good old fashioned network. And let’s face it — we now all realize that the main stream media doesn’t feel obligated to tell us what’s real and not real, so it has to be our job to investigate the truth. Associations help us do just that.

I know it is sometimes a very expensive proposition to join an association or two, and donate your time, treasure and talent. But as I say to my students all the time, and it’s good to repeat — when you sign up to be part of a profession, you’re also signing up to ADVOCATE for that profession as well. If you don’t do it, who will? Not the big corporations, and certainly not the main stream media.

I’ll leave you with a list of associations in pharmacy to consider joining and that I have either personally been a member of in the past, or participated in their meetings, or are currently a member thereof. Be thoughtful and consider what area(s) of practice you’d like more knowledge within, and which you support advocating for in your area(s) of practice. Furthermore, if you DO join, please actively serve and participate within the association. The more you serve, the more you will personally get out of it. It’s good for your career, for the profession, and for your knowledge base.

ASCP — Senior Care Pharmacy — (And students, you can join us for FREE).

AACP — Academic Pharmacy

ASPL — Pharmacy Law

There are several others. If you’re a member of any of the others, I personally invite you to comment with the membership links below to this story.

Last, if I’m preaching to the choir and you’re already super active in your chosen pharmacy association — THANK YOU for all that you’re doing to ADVOCATE for the profession. ALL OF US appreciate you!

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Erin L. Albert is a pharmacist and senior director of education at ASCP. Opinions above are her own.

#pharmacy #pharmacyassociations #pharmacist #truth #advocacy

Pharmacist, author, lawyer, entrepreneur and The Edutainer Podcast Producer. Opining is my own. www.erinalbert.com

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