Carla Cobb, PharmD, BCPP
Psychiatric Pharmacist
Capita Consulting
Billings, MT
CPNP Government Affairs Committee Member
Rick Silvia, PharmD, BCPP
Professor of Pharmacy Practice
MCPHS University
Department of Pharmacy Practice
Boston, MA
Chair, CPNP Professional Affairs Committee

“All advocacy is, at its core, an exercise in empathy.”

- Samantha Power, United States Ambassador to the United Nations from 2013 to 2017. 

Psychiatric pharmacists are passionate advocates for the people they serve. They believe that people with psychiatric disorders deserve high quality, compassionate care. They know that psychiatric pharmacists make a difference. They speak out to ensure that all patients who need psychiatric pharmacist’s services have access to their care.

Advocacy takes knowledge, courage, and time. It takes leadership and partnership. It takes an organization like CPNP to provide the structure and resources to support members who advocate for our profession and ultimately for our patients.

Even before the founding of CPNP in 1998, psychiatric pharmacy leaders advocated for the profession. They encouraged the development of clinical rotations, residency and fellowship training, and jobs, status within pharmacy organizations, specialty recognition by BPS, and finally the founding of CPNP.

Over the past 25 years CPNP has listened to member feedback, expanding advocacy efforts in public affairs, professional affairs, and government affairs. Investment has grown significantly over the years – from the first legislative committee in 2009 to contracting with government affairs consultants (currently Laura Hanen) starting in 2012. Since 2017, CPNP has developed an annual health policy agenda, held Hill Days where CPNP volunteers educate members of Congress, and created issue briefs on important advocacy efforts. Infographics and professional profiles have been added to the website to provide information to share with others about psychiatric pharmacists and the breadth of their roles in practice. CPNP has joined coalitions and written dozens of letters and comments to legislators and regulators, educating policymakers and requesting changes that support the profession. They have published papers to educate others on how psychiatric pharmacists add value to the patient care team, including one by an interprofessional group of authors in Psychiatric Services. They have created a federal toolkit to encourage every member to act to advance our advocacy efforts. Watch for an upcoming state level toolkit as well.

Whether your individual interest includes USP 800, elimination of the X waiver, safe access to clozapine, CMS recognition of BCPPs, payment for services, increased access to telehealth, expansion of psychiatric pharmacist positions, or workforce issues, CPNP staff and volunteers are working on it.

The CPNP board is clearly committed to advocacy with the current advocacy budget now reaching 15% of total revenue. But CPNP is only as strong as its membership. From paying dues to participation in committees to advocacy at the practice level, every member needs to act. Members need to develop meaningful measures that track their impact on patient outcome and share the information with others. There is a surprising paucity of high quality data published demonstrating the value of psychiatric pharmacists. As CPNP engages with more policymakers that request this information, it is key to have quality information to share. Educate students and residents about the importance of participating in advocacy. Educate other health professionals and administrators. Educate patients and their families about the value of having a psychiatric pharmacist on the team.

CPNP needs all hands on deck to make a difference, and ask for you to advocate as vigorously for yourself as you do for your patients.

This article originally appeared in the February 2022 issue of the CPNP Perspective.

25 Years!