Today is the first day of Autumn. Did you notice the difference when you woke up? The trees are now covered with bright colorful leaves, pumpkins are lining all the by-ways, there’s a smell of warm apple cider in the air, and that air is decidedly cooler than it was yesterday with decidedly fewer daylight hours. Well, maybe not quite. In truth there isn’t much difference between summer and fall if yesterday and tomorrow are the comparisons. Seasons just don’t change that quickly.
In truth, any change seldom happens quickly, but it happens. And it happens inexorably. Things you barely notice from day to day add up so over time the change becomes monumental. Take yourself for example. You likely are not noticeably different than you were yesterday, maybe not from last week, perhaps even barely noticeably different from last year. But compared to five years ago, ten years, twenty years…the change is remarkable.
Something that rarely changes is our desire to not change. Almost everybody prefers the familiarity of now to the point they would choose a future to be no different than the now. Except now. Now has taken a great toll on us, especially those working in our health care systems. Our current “now” seems overwhelmed with a pandemic that will not end. The demands placed upon pharmacists seem never ending. Community pharmacists are still conducting immunization activities and now must integrate the regular flu season vaccine into their workflows. Hospital pharmacists are responding to more and to more critical patients as Intensive Care Units once again filling to capacity with COVID patients. It is hard work that we’d gladly change for calmer activities, but we work on, knowing our patients depend on us. They trust us to care for them, often not even knowing we are part of their care. Still, we strive to improve each day and bring about a noticeable change for them between their yesterdays and their tomorrows.
As much as we might prefer to never deal with change, we have sworn to embrace change. It is with those very words as we recite our own Oath of a Pharmacist that we say:
I will embrace and advocate changes that improve patient care.
In a recent Pharmacist’s Pulse blog post we noted this line in the Oath, saying we, “not only recognize and accept change in health care, but actively encourage change when it is evident that improvements in patient care are necessary and possible. Note that it does not specify pharmacy care or drug or medication related patient care, but that we will embrace and advocate change in patient care however it affects our practice.”
We now have a noticeable change we must address. We now must prepare ourselves to serve the increasing needs of our patients with increased responsibilities. Earlier this month, the United States Department of Health and Human Services amended the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Act which “provides liability immunity to and expands the scope of authority for licensed pharmacists to order and administer select COVID 19 therapeutics to populations authorized by the FDA and for pharmacy technicians and pharmacy interns to administer COVID 19 therapeutics to populations authorized by the FDA” when the certain criteria are met.* This opens new access for patients by making effective drug therapy available to more patients. Likely these new responsibilities will not come with new or larger staffs.
We have responded to similar challenges and know that together, we can meet this challenge. We are a strong profession with years of adapting to changing needs, providing our own support and using our knowledge and skills not just to our patients’ benefit but to our own also. We care for each other as we care for patients, our families, and communities, even as much as we care for ourselves. That is something that has not changed over all the years pharmacists have served.
When you woke up today you may not have noticed any change from yesterday, but it indeed is a new season, and with every new season comes change. Most often we rarely notice those changes. The ones we do are usually quite extraordinary. And so dear colleague, are you.
* Click here to go to the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act, Amendment 9, Expanding Access to COVID-19 Therapeutics.