Advocating for Change

April 22, 2016

By Amanda Plakosh


It’s 5:47 pm on Friday night.  After a long week at work, you excitedly drive towards the elementary school to pick up your soon to be 7-year old son.  His birthday is on Saturday and you have an unforgettable party planned.  The grandparents are coming in from out of town and his best buddies from school will be coming over first thing in the morning for a backyard bash. 


When you get to the school, your son runs up to you with an ear to ear grin and tells you how excited he is for his soccer themed birthday party.  That’s when you see it.  His left eye is red and teary and has a little goop in the corner. 


Pink eye.  Again. 


Even though you know what the problem is and it’s easily treatable, in many states pharmacists aren’t authorized to provide treatment without the guidance of a medical doctor.  At 6:00 pm, pediatrician offices are closed and urgent treatment clinics have stopped taking new patients, so unless a parent makes a trip to the emergency room, no treatment could be provided and the birthday party would have to be canceled. 


Healthcare provision doesn’t have to be limited this way. Through advocacy efforts, restrictions can be lifted to allow pharmacists to provide care for a broader range of conditions.


Thanks to the advocacy efforts of Dr. Andrew Heinz, his colleagues at the Washington State Pharmacy Association, and other stakeholders, pharmacists in Washington state are now authorized to offer immediate treatment for 21 minor ailments and conditions, including burns, bites, stings, and urinary tract infections.


Dr. Andrew Heinz, PharmD and independent pharmacist at Kirk’s Pharmacy in Puyallup, WA, began advocating to recognize pharmacists and expand their role as valued members of the healthcare team as a student pharmacist at the University of Washington School of Pharmacy.  


UK College of Pharmacy students has the opportunity to personally meet Dr. Heinz and learn about advocacy at the most recent Kentucky Alliance of Pharmacy Students (KAPS) convocation.  He spoke to students about the importance of advocating for patients and for the profession.  Dr. Heinz encouraged students to begin advocating while in school because they are trusted by lawmakers that understand students have no ulterior motives and only have the patients’ best interest at heart.




The Kentucky Alliance of Pharmacy Students (KAPS) hosts an annual Advocacy Day event with support from the Kentucky Pharmacists Association Professor of Leadership Joseph Fink, and the College’s Center for the Advancement of Pharmacy Practice (CAPP).