I think that given the very name of this blog and what it represents, it would be extremely remiss if I did not write about such a historic event that unfolded at the annual meeting of the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP), which is currently being held in Chicago this week.
For the first time, ACEP is now recognizing and supporting the presence and various roles EM pharmacists as members of the multidisciplinary team in the emergency department. This was passed in the form of a resolution (number 44, for those of you who are curious) at the council meeting held earlier this week at the conference.
Seeing some of the reactions that unfolded when the news broke on Twitter two days ago, this was a “Duh!” moment for many folks. For a service that has been around for 40-some years, this is quite a feat and has actually made some folks wonder why ACEP never officially recognized us EM pharmacists up until this moment. I think if you speak to any provider who has a dedicated EM pharmacist, he or she will sing praises related to the value of their EM pharmacist(s) within their department. But to have an official non-pharmacy body recognize us as valued clinicians in the emergency department – and our own EM physician colleagues at that – well, it is pretty amazing, to say the least.
A group of individuals served as part of a subcommittee for this initiative from the Section Advisory Group on Emergency Care of the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (on Twitter at @ASHP_EMPharm), and they were instrumental in drafting, finalizing, and presenting the resolution, and we owe them a great deal of gratitude for all of their efforts in putting this together over the past year.
You may be wondering, “What are the implications of the passage of this resolution?” To say the least, there are many, but I think it is too early to tell how events will unfold. More than anything, this is a resolution for support of pharmacy services in the emergency department, but there are several possibilities. Over the past several years, we have witnessed a significant increase in the presence and expansion of pharmacy services across emergency departments in various regions of the United States, and we can only expect that this will continue. In addition, the number of emergency medicine pharmacy residencies, where pharmacists complete post-graduate hands-on training in the discipline of emergency medicine, has exploded over the past several years, with the current number of programs across EDs in the United States is nearly 30 (and counting). Growth in research collaborations and scholarly activities will also undoubtedly develop as a result of the passage of this resolution.
With this resolution successfully passed, the work has not ended; if anything, it has only just begun for us. Now more than ever, justification of our services in the emergency department will be paramount, which I envision will get down to the nuts and bolts of defining who we are and what we do. However, I think it is equally as important to ask ourselves how we can become even more innovative in the services that we provide and roles for which we wear many different hats beyond those that we do already on a day-to-day basis. Just as it has evolved for the past 40 years, our current practices as EM pharmacists may look very different over the same time frame of years down the road, perhaps even sooner than expected. Given that we are a relatively large and creative group of individuals and the energetic nature of the environment in which we work, I truly believe that we have what it takes to accomplish in answering this question.
We have already unlocked and witnessed the best of possibilities for the practice of EM pharmacy. Let us continue to do so with the keys that we hold to the future.