Pharmacy & Pharmacology Council: Embrace Your Opportunities
Walter E. Uber, PharmD
PHARM Council Chair
Mike Shullo, in his LINKS article two years ago, recounted a gathering in San Diego two years prior of a small group of pharmacy practitioners with interest in thoracic pharmacotherapy. The premise of this meeting was to discuss what was perceived as an unmet need within the ISHLT; a voice and home for those with specific expertise or interest in all areas of drug therapy. From this meeting, as well as the hard work and support of others within ISHLT, we were granted an awesome opportunity to have a designated council recognized for our talents and expertise. Over the last few years, this has afforded us the ability to have direct input in organizational goals, participation as a collective, and contribution to intellectual content and practice ideas that have helped advance the Society forward in the care of this very complex patient population.
Under Tamara Claridge's leadership, our council continued to make progress in advancing the initiatives set forth by its members over the last year. We continued to have a presence at the 35th annual ISHLT meeting in Nice. Our council was involved in the submission of 16 symposia overall to the program committee to be considered for placement on the meeting agenda. During the meeting, we successfully sponsored a session entitled "Drug Disposition in the Critically Ill Patient" as part of the pre-meeting symposium. We also had representation in other sessions including an ID session entitled "Bloody Virus: HIV, Hepatitis B and C." In addition, we were able to sponsor an oral abstract session entitled "Kinetics, Coagulation, and Cardiology—Pharmacy of MCS and Transplant" and a Pharmacy and Pharmacology poster session. These latter sessions proved to be very valuable for many of our members in allowing them to present and be recognized for their work as well as receive valuable feedback from the Society at large.
With regards to other activities within ISHLT, our council now has representation on several Standards & Guidelines projects (ex: MCS infection workgroup, AMR workgroup) where our expertise in pharmacotherapy is being sought. Participation in writing for the LINKS proved to be successful for our council with 6 articles being published by our members over the last year. In addition, several of our members were invited to participate on an ID sponsored project as chapter co-authors for an ISHLT reference guide for the work-up and diagnosis of common syndromes in thoracic organ transplant recipients.
Other initiatives undertaken within our council included:
- Development of a council member survey designed to identify the practice area, years of experience, and desired roles for participation within the council
- Formation of an intracouncil mentor/mentee partnership to help foster the development and growth of interested junior members
- Initial steps in the development of a research task force to identify and facilitate research needs of our council in order to improve abstract submission and intellectual input into the Society
- Securing ACPE credit for pharmacists at future ISHLT meetings as a means to increase membership, attendance at annual meetings, and continue to increase the intellectual contribution of our council to ISHLT.
In the near future, our council will continue to explore opportunities to further integrate itself into the Society framework. One of our strengths continues to be the diversity of our membership in that we have representation with interests in virtually all areas within the Society, allowing us to develop closer ties with other councils within ISHLT. With this in mind, we will continue to work with other councils on symposia ideas to help increase our presence in this multidisciplinary forum and allow for increased intellectual contributions from our members. In addition, we will continue to search out and become involved in other educational (ex: participation in on going Masters Academy initiatives) and guideline projects where our expertise can be effectively utilized and employed. Since the meeting in Nice, we have been contacted for involvement in 3 other initiatives within the society:
- a representative for a working group to update the PGD guidelines
- a representative to work with the pulmonary council in concert with the European Society of Cardiothoracic Anaesthetists on perioperative management of lung transplant recipients
- a potential representative to be a part of the ISHLT Strategic Planning work group. We will also continue to be involved with publication opportunities in the LINKS and will be seeking volunteers for our focus issue tentatively scheduled for September of this year.
In addition to the ongoing projects within our council, we will look to complete our core competency curriculum document this summer for presentation and potential approval by the Board in the fall. Also we will be seeking approval to begin work on an exciting project initiative raised at our council meeting looking into the development of medication education materials and assessment tools for transplant patients that can be used universally. If successful, the goal would then to expand this initiative to other areas of practice including MCS and PAH.
As our Council involvement within the society continues to grow, so must the involvement of its membership. However, participation at this level is not without its challenges. Balancing job and council responsibilities, gaining support from one's institution for extensive Society involvement, and even the intimidation factor of the environment itself may serve as limitations and prohibit members from taking a more active role. For our younger members these factors may be more exaggerated as they embark on developing their careers. This is particularly challenging, in that this group with their talents, ideas, and potential leadership skills, represent the future of our council and its involvement in the Society. As a council, we are trying to address support issues for recruitment, retention of membership, and enhancement of meeting attendance as follows:
- solidifying a process to continually secure ACPE credit for which we now have Board approval and will work to obtain for future meetings
- completion of core competency curriculum document endorsed by ISHLT highlighting necessary standards of practice for pharmacists in this environment
- identifying barriers and improved marketing to improve international representation within our council.
As for addressing balance, it is important that our members realize what opportunities exist for their involvement that is commensal with their level of comfort. For members looking for more limited exposure or junior members looking to gain initial experience, opportunities that exist include:
- involvement in workforce groups (ex: Education, Standards & Guidelines)
- project workgroups (ex: development of patient education materials, research task force)
- mentor/mentee partnerships
- LINKS article submissions
Since that small gathering in San Diego back in 2011, we as a council have made great strides in becoming an integral part in ISHLT. We will continue to grow and evolve and as such we will continue to face challenges as the expectations and demands placed on us increase. I continue to think of President Kennedy's famous space race speech and how appropriate it seems when I adapt and paraphrase it to fit our situation. When doing so it reads: We choose to have a council, not because it is easy, but because it is hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win. So as we move forward, it is important that we not look upon this as a burden, but continue to embrace the opportunities that our council and the Society present. ■
Disclosure Statement: the author has no conflicts of interest to report.