Each October, we celebrate American Pharmacists Month to recognize the accomplishments of pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, and student pharmacists in the healthcare industry. This year is no exception. To say that 2020 has been a challenging year for the healthcare industry would be an understatement. The COVID-19 virus alone had an unprecedented impact on the industry as it spread rapidly across the country. Communities were forced to adjust as social distancing measures and other guidelines were put in place to help curb the spread of the virus as it quickly reached pandemic levels. And its impact is still being felt today as the race for a vaccine continues.
In the midst of all this, we’ve seen healthcare workers step up to the plate. Pharmacists, in particular, were on the frontlines ensuring that the communities they serve still had access to medications and services they needed. For instance, in March, a few pharmacists shared some of the measures they had put in place to help their communities. Among these efforts were expanded curbside and delivery services to patients, community education via online and offline channels, as well as medication management in the face of possible drug shortages. Some pharmacies also took advantage of expanded FDA compounding guidelines to produce hand sanitizers when there were nationwide shortages, even supplying them to other healthcare facilities for free. In addition, pharmacy groups helped ensure that pharmacies were allowed to provide COVID-19 tests, thereby increasing access to testing for thousands of Americans across the country.
These actions are just some of the ways pharmacists have continuously proven that they are essential members of the healthcare team. In the past few years, pharmacists and pharmacy groups have made great strides in evolving the role of pharmacies as healthcare hubs. We have seen this in the success of pharmacist involvement in various services, such as diabetes medication management, smoking cessation programs, vaccination programs, and more. It is also evident in the success of states that have already broadened pharmacy practice laws to give pharmacists prescribing authority. Continuing down this path will go a long way toward ensuring that pharmacists are able to provide the essential care that they are able and prepared to give. We already know that patients see their pharmacists 35 times per year compared to the four times a year they see their medical providers. And, the fact that pharmacists are the most accessible and trusted healthcare providers cannot be overstated.
This American Pharmacists Month, we acknowledge and appreciate the pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, pharmacy students, and pharmacy staff for their efforts on the frontlines this year, and the work they do in communities every day.