USC School of Pharmacy student organizations hosted nearly 200 participants, including industry leaders and elected officials, at the School’s annual Legislative Day on Friday, November 3. The agenda focused on advancing and expanding the profession’s scope of practice following the passage of California Senate Bill 493, which gives pharmacists healthcare provider status. The event was held at the USC Health Sciences Campus.
Dean Vassilios Papadopoulos welcomed attendees to the event, which brings pharmacists, students, legislators and other community leaders together to discuss the pivotal pharmacy issues on the legislative agenda. “The future of preventive medicine will start with pharmacists,” he said.
He introduced Steven Chen, Associate Dean for Clinical Affairs, who urged pharmacy students to be “disrupters in health care” and described the value of integrating pharmacists on the primary care team as part of a collaborative practice agreements with physicians.
Chen introduced Michael Metcalfe, who shared his personal story as a former patient at the Center for Community Health, a safety-net clinic on Los Angeles’ Skid Row. Metcalfe was obese, with his diabetes out of control, and doctors had grown frustrated by his inaction. One day he woke up in a hospital, after spending days in a diabetic coma.
It was Chen and USC pharmacy students, Metcalfe said, who helped him understand his condition, and taught him how to be consistent with his insulin injections while learning to eat more healthfully. Metcalfe eventually lost more than 100 pounds and turned his life around. “Pharmacists taught me how to save my own life,” Metcalfe told future pharmacy pioneers. “People’s lives depend on you. You teach people to live with their disease.”
State Senator Jeff Stone, a graduate of the USC School of Pharmacy and the only pharmacist in the California state legislature, noted that the state faces capacity challenges in meeting the health care needs of Californians, and described the expansion of pharmacy services as a way to ease the strain on primary care physicians while enhancing care.
“I’m a pharmacist first and a politician second,” Stone said, urging pharmacy students to develop relationships with “people who make decisions about the future of our profession” at the local and state legislative level.
Daniel Martinez, Manager for the Governmental Relations and External Affairs Department of the California Pharmacists Association, provided an overview for student pharmacists about how to advocate for the profession.
Other speakers, including Vinson Lee, president of the California Pharmacists Association (CPhA), and Victoria Ferraresi, president of California Society of Health System Pharmacists (CSHP), provided updates on current legislation. Victor Law, a board member of the California State Board of Pharmacy, delivered a closing address.
Legislative Day was hosted by the School’s student pharmacy organizations under the leadership of students Tracy Ho, Leslie Wu, Jung Kim, Ryan Chien, Layla Demirchyan and Zaid Sheikh. Ralphs and the California Korean American Pharmacists Association were platinum sponsors. Gold sponsors included CSHP Southern California and the South Bay-Long Beach Society of Health-System Pharmacists.