Intern Spotlight: Aaron Garst
MARCH 21, 2016
Pharmacy Practice in Tennessee Owes Its Level of Success to TPA
by Aaron Garst, TPA Intern
2016 PharmD Candidate, Bill Gatton College of Pharmacy at ETSU
February has proven to be an exciting month for a rotation with the Tennessee Pharmacists Association. In addition to gaining experience in the normal daily functions at TPA, the legislature is in session, and the staff was hard at work to ensure the 2016 Winter Meeting happened flawlessly. The location of TPA in downtown Nashville adds to the overall experience, with the convenience of walking to the General Assembly, the opportunity to eat great food at the multitude of restaurants, and even being able to go to a Nashville Predators game after work.
Since I have been involved in pharmacy legislation and advocacy prior to this rotation, I had some general experience with how the policy process works. Essentially an idea becomes a bill, which then goes through multiple committees (and usually amendments), before it finally reaches the Senate or House floor. During my time at TPA I learned that the most important part of turning a bill into law, however, is not necessarily the process itself, but the relationships that are fostered in the process.
I have learned it is much more beneficial to spend the time and effort to form a worthwhile relationship with your legislator, rather than just sending a letter or email every now and then. This can include meeting with them at their home offices or while in Nashville at the TPA Winter Meeting, and inviting them to your practice site to see all the great things pharmacists do. The practice of pharmacy is continually evolving and it is important to make your voice heard, because if not, there is surely a lobbyist speaking “for you.”
For pharmacists who do not have the time to do this, TPA can be your voice with your continued membership and support of their Political Action Committee., PharmPAC. Micah Cost, Executive Director of TPA, continues to foster the relationships built over the years with our state’s legislators, countless lobbyists, and other stakeholders involved in healthcare and pharmacy practice. These relationships are a crucial part of preserving current pharmacy practice (blocking AWP cuts), advancing future practice (collaborative practice agreements), and stopping bad policy in general. I truly believe that pharmacy practice in Tennessee would not be at the level of success it is today if TPA did not exist, and that TPA lives up to its motto of “for patients, for pharmacists, for Tennessee”.
Observing first-hand the hard work and dedication of the TPA staff this month has most definitely confirmed my decision to continue my personal membership and support of TPA as a pharmacy practitioner. Contributing to my decision was the fact that as a bonus starting this year, all students who are TPA (TSSP) members at the time of graduation will get one free year of pharmacist membership (a $295 value), a complete law review book (federal and state), and access to the new practitioner handbook and New Practitioner Forums. The way I look at it, even after the first year, a pharmacist membership is less then $1 per day, and I believe it is truly well worth the investment.