By: Zachary Reale, PharmD Candidate c/o 2018
Every April, pharmacists and pharmacy students from all across New York State gather in Albany for Pharmacy Lobby Day. The event, organized by the Pharmacists Society of the State of New York (PSSNY), is held in collaboration with many other New York State pharmacy associations including the Student Pharmacists Society of the State of New York (SPSSNY). The day is an opportunity for pharmacists and future pharmacists to meet with the state legislative body and discuss laws and regulations that affect the profession on a daily basis. It is a unique chance to advance the field of pharmacy as well as build relationships with fellow professionals.
The day takes place at the state’s Capitol Hill and starts off in the performing arts center known as ‘The Egg.” After a welcome by the leaders of PSSNY, legislative experts briefed the pharmacy lobbyists on each bill, highlighting key points and healthcare benefits. It was a time for everyone to be brought up to speed on the issues at hand and ask any questions regarding the year’s potential new laws. Tips and pointers for speaking with politicians were also given to help out any first-time attendees. Afterwards, preassigned teams of students and pharmacists met one another for the first time and then it was off to meet the legislators. This year, there were three specific bills on the agenda. The first bill, if passed, would authorize registered pharmacy interns to administer vaccines to adults. Most importantly, this initiative would help train student pharmacists more effectively. It would ensure that newly graduated New York pharmacists would be as marketable as students from the other 46 states that already allow registered pharmacy interns to administer vaccines.
The second bill would expand the vaccines administered by pharmacists to include all CDC-recommended vaccines for adults. This would help improve patient accessibility to important vaccinations, especially in medically underserved areas such as rural upstate and western New York. Additionally, this would be a huge leap forward in promoting public health by increasing adult immunization rates for Tdap, influenza, pneumococcal and HPV vaccines.
The third bill would require pharmacy technicians to be registered and certified as well as establish educational requirements for them. In a state that currently has no direct jurisdiction over pharmacy technicians, this legislation is much needed. Above all it would protect the public from mistakes made within the pharmacy due to insufficient training or unqualified staffing. Technicians would be held accountable for actions when dealing with controlled substances and would have to meet minimum education requirements.
All three bills would significantly improve the practice of pharmacy in New York State. It was up to the students and pharmacists at Pharmacy Lobby Day to share meaningful stories and experiences in hopes of conveying the importance of passing each bill. It was crucial to demonstrate the positive impact that each bill would have on, not only the pharmacy profession, but also on the health and safety of the public.
Only time and the vote of each legislator will determine which bills will be passed into law and which bills will be put back to be lobbied again next year. No matter the case, Pharmacy Lobby Day will always be a success. It is an incredible opportunity for both seasoned pharmacists and student pharmacists to advocate on behalf of the profession of pharmacy. Most of all, it is an event that should be attended by all pharmacy students across the state and serves to only benefit the pharmacy profession.
Each year in April the College of Pharmacy sends out an informational email to all years of Pharmacy students. There is no cost to attend and the school provides a bus for all students going. Many pharmacy organizations also advertise the event and encourage members to attend. Attending this event will only improve your experience as a future pharmacist and it is a great way to get involved. Be on the look out for next year’s e-mail!