As this issue of Academic Pharmacy Now goes live, I am pausing to reflect on the last 14 months of pandemic navigation. What has changed? What hasn’t changed? AACP has been fortunate that all our staff were remote work-enabled on March 13 (Friday the 13th for sure!) when the executive order from the Virginia and federal governments restricted normal office operations. Would it be weeks? Perhaps months? Certainly not a year! We feel fortunate that the nature of our work has allowed us to continue to support and serve our members as they quickly pivoted into remote learning and identified innovative ways to achieve their missions and goals.
AACP has been in action during these months. We have certainly missed being able to host in-person events and are excited for future plans to do so, but as the stories in this issue reveal, we are creating value with and for members in strategically important ways. Planning for the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Institute—co-hosted with the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy—began in March 2019. It was to be an in-person event in Oxford, MS, in January 2021. What became clear six or more months prior to the scheduled program was that restrictions on travel and gathering meant that the institute had to be offered virtually. The silver lining in this change was that most likely double the number of teams and individuals participated in this outstanding learning and planning meeting. Sixty colleges and schools initiated or expanded their plans for doing more to address inclusivity and equity at their institutions. We look forward to this becoming an annual program, whether live, virtual or hybrid. And AACP continues to implement our own plans as an organization to achieve our vision of a world of healthy people—all people.
I have never been prouder of our members, your faculty and students, with respect to the many roles and contributions you have made and continue to make in the battle to defeat COVID-19. With three vaccines having received emergency use authorization from the FDA in record time, you all have expanded access to immunizations on campus, in mass vaccination clinics, in pharmacies and in many other places. Our state and national leaders are seeing you in action and have gained significant respect for pharmacists’ contributions to public health. Maintaining our gains is a national pharmacy priority. AACP is also committed to working in the critical space of building vaccine confidence across the country so we can achieve herd immunity as rapidly as possible. We are partnered with the American Pharmacists Association on a CDC-funded vaccine confidence project that will yield important educational programs and tools for pharmacists to use with the public to encourage vaccinations.
The next frontier is digital health education and practice. AACP recognizes that this is a rapidly advancing arena that is not well integrated into curricula today. As the faculty featured in this article note, we must work together to equip faculty at all of our member institutions with the knowledge and tools to integrate digital health into existing courses, create electives and clinical learning opportunities so that our graduates and alumni quickly become comfortable enabling our patients to achieve optimal health outcomes using this expanding array of tools. A fall 2021 institute is being planned to quick start this curricular advancement priority.
So what has changed? Virtually everything is one answer (and everything virtual as well)! On the other hand, what hasn’t changed is AACP’s commitment to providing programs and services that allow academic pharmacy to remain in the vanguard of our dynamic healthcare system helping to create a world of healthy people. Thanks for all you are doing to make that happen.
Lucinda L. Maine, Ph.D., R.Ph.
CEO and Publisher