Michael Murphy, PharmD Candidate, The Ohio State University and OPA APPE Student
It isn’t often that people know that they’re making a difference. That wasn’t true on February 27 when over 240 Ohio student pharmacists converged on Columbus to make an impact on the profession. This year’s Student Legislative Day was a success because of the passion these student pharmacists felt and their ability to communicate that passion effectively to our legislators. At a time when there are so many pharmacy issues being debated at our Statehouse, it isn’t surprising that students are answering the call to stand up for their profession.
As the day began and students from all seven colleges and schools of pharmacy in Ohio poured into the Sheraton Hotel meeting room, you could feel the electricity within the crowd. Old friends from past conferences were reacquainted and new friendships started. OPA President Cathy Kuhn welcomed the group and expressed how important it was for us to be there. As the current National President of the American Pharmacists Association Academy of Student Pharmacists (APhA-ASP), I had the opportunity to speak about the importance of professional involvement and making advocacy a pursuit we take on more than just once a year.
Antonio Ciaccia, OPA Director of Government & Public Affairs, educated the group on the legislative process and important bills we would be discussing with our legislators. These included HB 101 – Epinephrine Access; HB 479 – Prohibiting Clawbacks and Gag Clauses; HB 465 – Medicaid Reimbursement Reform; SB 56/HB 72 – Step Therapy Reform; HB 231 – Locking Prescription Vials; HB 286 – Palliative Care Commission; supplemental prescribing of medication assisted treatment; and diabetic supplies access.
In addition to these bills, the newly introduced legislation from Senator Matt Dolan, SB 265 – Provider Status, was highlighted. Senator Dolan spoke to the student pharmacists about this legislation and how important it is to the citizens of Ohio. Following Senator Dolan, Representative Derek Merrin, Representative Scott Lipps, and Pharmacist-Senator Dave Burke addressed the students emphasizing the importance of being engaged in the legislative process.
With a new wealth of knowledge and donned in their white coats, student pharmacists made their way over to the Senate and Representative office buildings for meetings with their legislators. They shared personal stories of how they have made an impact on the lives of their patients and their legislators listened to their passion. Near the end of the day, a group of students saw a familiar face in the Statehouse rotunda, Governor John Kasich. Never one to let a great opportunity pass by, these student pharmacists engaged the Governor in conversation about the importance of recognizing pharmacists as healthcare providers and how our profession can positively impact the opioid crisis. The Governor was so impressed that he shared the cover photo of himself with the group on his social media accounts.
Overall, student pharmacists made a huge impact on the profession during the 2018 Student Legislative Day. We learned about current issues impacting our profession and how we could begin relationships with our legislators today and continue them throughout the year so that we can advance pharmacy together. A recap video of the day can be found at https://www.facebook.com/Ohio.Pharmacists/videos/10160153770940385/.
Thank you to all of the OPA staff and volunteers who made this day possible. We look forward to another exciting year of advocacy and will see you at the 2019 Student Legislative Day!