It’s Not About CE; It’s About COMMUNITY

In the last three months, I’ve attended five pharmacy events on a state and national level. It’s been a busy quarter, but representing our members has been my honor. As I reflect, I realize that what we are known for and what we are about may be two different things. Many associate WVPA as the place to get your CE at the annual meeting, but it’s not about CE – it’s about COMMUNITY.

It started with a Southern California trip to the NASPA Recharge meeting. NASPA supports all the state associations, and the executive directors collaborate and share ideas to strengthen us. We have not been represented at a NASPA meeting before 2021, and even though I am not an executive director, they have taken me under their wing and taught me so much about running our organization without an actual executive director.

Through my involvement in NASPA, I have heard what other states are working on, are accomplishing, and have accomplished. We share information so we don’t need to recreate everything from scratch for all 50 states. I’ve made friends with many of the state executives.

I returned home to attend our Pharmacy Day at the Capitol, which had record attendance and legislator meetings from recent years. It was so rewarding to see our students working with pharmacists, school staff, and faculty to advocate for bills of interest to the pharmacy profession and our patients. Thanks to the efforts of approximately 175, we made some significant progress with the passage of bills.

Then, because of my networking at past NASPA meetings, I attended the Alaska Pharmacists Association meeting in Anchorage, AK! I attended last year as a speaker, but I wanted to experience it as an attendee this year. The people were very warm and welcoming, and each year, I checked something off my bucket list while I was there! In 2023, I went ice fishing with a group of fellow pharmacists, and in 2024, I went on a dog sled ride with a pharmacist I met at my first NASPA gathering in 2021!

Then, I went to NACDS RXImpact on the Hill to learn and advocate for essential PBM Reform NOW. I met with staff from our US Congressmen and asked for their support of PBM Reform. I returned home to attend our first (of many) WVPA socials throughout the state and had a blast. I caught up with colleagues I hadn’t seen recently and made new friends who attended their first WVPA gathering!

Lastly, I attended APhA2024 and the concurrent NASPA meeting, where I met new friends and caught up with old ones. I connected with people I work for at my company and those who may be good contacts for the future of WVPA and my career. The CE was exceptional but isn’t the most crucial piece.

As a profession, we must engage with our community of fellow pharmacists and technicians. The rate of self-harm by pharmacists is twice of the general population we treat. It’s difficult to explain our job to people who don’t live it – the emotions, frustration, and high bar we must hurdle daily for patient safety. Likewise, staying up-to-date with everything – whether it’s CE or the issues – in our fast-paced procession is challenging. Many of you may remember when we did CE AT WORK when we were caught up. How many have time for it during our work days now? How many are too burned out to do it after work?

That’s where we should utilize every opportunity to network to vent about the difficulties of our jobs, celebrate our successes or our patients’ successes, and find our community that allows us to continue to thrive.

This has been the most challenging year, personally and professionally, for me, and I know it has probably been the same for each of you reading this.  Remember, there is strength in numbers.  It’s the reason why there are support groups for everything from addiction to the grief of a loved one. The problems of our profession may seem impossible, but they are easier to handle with a support system that understands what you are going through.

If you are not a member, what are you waiting for? You need us now more than ever, and WE NEED YOU.  Together, We Are Stronger, and together, we can go to some fantastic places and meet some amazing people.  All the opportunities I have been granted professionally (and some personally) have been because of my involvement in the West Virginia Pharmacists Association. It takes a village, so start building your community today.