By Rear Adm. Scott F. Giberson, RPh, MPh, assistant Surgeon General and chief pharmacy officer, U.S. Public Health Service
Pharmacists are the third-largest category (and second-largest professional discipline) of the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) with more than 1,150 pharmacy officers. Commissioned Corps pharmacists of the PHS have long been a critical component to the provision of public health to the American people — particularly those in medically underserved and vulnerable populations.
The 2012 PHS Pharmacy Outlook noted that corps pharmacists were prepared to lead. This included the ability to foster partnerships both internal and external to the federal government, the capability to innovate through prevention and chronic care strategies and the overall advancement of the profession to improve patient and health system outcomes. Corps pharmacists are part of multiple health systems and agencies (i.e., Indian Health Service, Bureau of Prisons, Food and Drug Administration, etc.). Thus, additional value comes with the network created from our officers assigned to about 25 agencies and 11 different U.S. departments both domestically and abroad.
Due to this diversity, PHS Pharmacy realizes the capacity and responsibility to lead in pharmacy practice. The key focus for 2012 was to seize opportunity and transform to assist with health system challenges. The following PHS Pharmacy initiatives commenced in 2012 with the intent to collect and measure their impact. In 2013, building upon existing success, PHS Pharmacy will continue to facilitate initiatives, partner and innovate — as it accelerates unprecedented transformation of the profession.
On Jan. 9, 2012, PHS Pharmacy submitted a report to the U.S. Surgeon General entitled, “Improving Patient and Health System Outcomes through Advanced Pharmacy Practice.” This first-ever report on pharmacy practice to the U.S. Surgeon General demonstrated through evidence-based outcomes that pharmacists performing in expanded roles improve clinical and administrative outcomes for patients and health system. The report garnered support from the U.S. Surgeon General as well as other physicians from the Indian Health Service and Federal Bureau of Prisons. Additional healthcare providers and physicians provided unsolicited support letters for the report. The report’s direct and indirect impact includes a surge in activities surrounding organizational partnering, state pharmacy association initiatives, state legislative changes and further advancement of federal pharmacy collaboration.
Since its release, the report has received widespread recognition and utilization across the nation and abroad. Stakeholders are utilizing the report as a tool to move forward and ignite an effort to unify our messages, expand our roles and advance as a profession. PHS Pharmacy has been privileged to engage in more than 50 speaking invitations involving more than 30 states and in the global arena. In 2013, PHS Pharmacy will continue to collect and consolidate information on the positive impact as a result of the report.
In concert with the report and the release of the Federal Pharmacist Vision, chief pharmacists from the Department of Veterans Affairs, Army, Navy, Air Force and Public Health Service released a Federal Pharmacist Scope of Practice (http://tinyurl.com/usphs-pharmacist) The scope reflects the state of pharmacy practice when the Federal Pharmacist Vision has been achieved. Many federal pharmacists and partners have already been working on initiatives to actualize the Federal Pharmacist Vision and Scope of Practice — once again accelerating transformation.