Tennessee Pharmacists Association

Masthead_for_webpageNOVEMBER 8, 2016

James ButtsTPA: The Real MVP
APPE Student Rotation, July 2016

by James Butts, 2017 PharmD Candidate
University of Tennessee College of College of Pharmacy

My month at TPA was a whole new experience for me. Throughout my first three years attending the University of Tennessee College of Pharmacy, I was not nearly as involved as I could have been. This rotation, however, opened my eyes to everything TPA does for pharmacists throughout the state. Coming in, I really had no idea what exactly TPA was or what their function was. I learned quickly that they are the ones who keep their ear to the ground and let pharmacists know what is on the horizon. Perhaps the most important function they perform is to make sure laws do not get passed that would adversely affect pharmacists and the profession of pharmacy, as well as push for laws that will propel the profession to a new level.

“Lots of pharmacists were recognized for excellence in their practice, and seeing that made me want to strive for excellence and be on par with those individuals. “

The main goal in July was to prepare for the TPA Summer Meeting. It is amazing how much planning and work go into this preparation. Because the meeting was in Alabama, there was no coming back to the office if something was left behind. This meant making sure all boxes were checked and T’s were crossed. Who would have thought we needed to bring our own microphones for each room? Luckily, the staff has a lot of experience with these meetings and knows what to pack. Fortunately, just about everything went smoothly, and the folks in attendance really enjoyed themselves. They seemed impressed with the continuing education programming as well. Lots of pharmacists were recognized for excellence in their practice, and seeing that made me want to strive for excellence and be on par with those individuals. This meeting really made me want to be more involved in the profession in the future.

I also got the chance to attend the Board of Pharmacy meetings over the course of a couple of days. The Board follows administrative rules when making their judgements on pharmacies, pharmacists, and technicians. What I got out of the meetings is that the Board takes a tough stance on theft from pharmacies. Also, ignorance of the law is not a valid excuse. Overall, I felt they were fair to individuals and gave second chances to several people. If you carry yourself like a professional and provide patients with counseling and drug utilization review as required by law and rules, you will greatly reduce your chances of having to face the Board. I would encourage all pharmacists, student pharmacists, and pharmacy technicians to sit in on at least one Board meeting to get a perspective on the role of the Board of Pharmacy.

“TPA has to be really innovative and take a strong stance supported by scientific data and a unified, member-led approach, in order to make a big difference.”

Another thing I learned from sitting in on a few meetings is that the TPA has some big hurdles to overcome. There are significant external forces challenging pharmacy practice, including competing lobbying interests on Capitol Hill. The unfortunate thing is that these lobbying groups do not always have the patient care perspective and extensive background that pharmacy professionals have. Micah Cost, TPA’s Executive Director, says it is not uncommon, when going to meetings with legislators, to see other lobbyists walk in right after he walks out, just to be followed by another lobbying group, so there are lots of voices across the street. I can imagine it’s difficult to get a point across regarding patient care, or where pharmacists can play increased roles on health care teams, with all those voices. TPA has to be really innovative and take a strong stance supported by scientific data and a unified, member-led approach, in order to make a big difference. I’ve gained tons of respect for what TPA does for the pharmacy profession, and I don’t think the profession would be in the high standing it is today if not for the wonderful staff and dedicated members.