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“My recent experience……reminded me how important it is to not only develop and maintain relationships with pharmacy organizations, but to also connect with non-pharmacy organizations and individuals. As someone who spent the early years of her career being a recognized and ‘accepted’ member of the healthcare team as a licensed professional counselor, I know I can help us bridge this gap and build these relationships. With the ambiguity of which pharmacist should be allowed to provide which service…….it is critical we develop key partnerships with leaders in the non-pharmacy behavioral health world to help advocate for our specialty knowledge and expertise when these decisions are being made.” – Lisa Goldstone, President-Elect candidate statement, fall 2017.

Prior to being elected to office, I already knew how vital it was for our organization to continue to work toward building relationships with other disciplines in the mental health world. For this reason, I was excited to receive the invitation at the end of 2019 to participate as the CPNP representative on the newly formed American Psychiatric Association (APA) Task Force for Interprofessional Collaboration. Bruce Schwartz, the current APA President, made interprofessional collaboration one of his presidential initiatives, which led to the formation of this task force. CPNP was recognized as one of the organizations who should take part. During an initial conference call in December 2019, our task force established increasing access to care for persons with serious mental illness (SMI) as our first priority.

On January 14, 2020, I represented CPNP at the in-person task force meeting held at the APA offices in Washington, D.C. This landmark meeting consisted of major organizations representing a full array of mental health disciplines. Thought leaders from the American Academy of PAs, American Association of Nurse Practitioners, American Mental Health Counselors Association, American Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners, American Psychological Association, Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, International Association of Peer Supporters, National Alliance on Mental Illness, and National Association of Social Workers were in attendance.

It was an honor to educate leaders in other mental health organizations about psychiatric pharmacists and CPNP. Many individuals present were not aware of the advanced education and training of psychiatric pharmacists and how we can specifically help increase access to care. I thought I already knew a lot about the other disciplines having been a non-pharmacist member of the team in the past. However, I learned so much more about what others are currently doing to increase access to care and that we are all facing common barriers in being able to provide the level of care that persons with SMI need.

In recent years, our profession has been very focused on issues such as reimbursement, provider status, and related issues. However, when working toward a common goal as an interprofessional collaboration, it is critical we make decisions that place the patient first. Although all members of this task force recognize we have discipline specific identities and our own organizational agendas, we must also form a collaborative identity in which we place professional territory issues aside to act in the best interest of the patients whom we serve. It was with this thought in mind that our task force identified key principles, developed strategies and determined next steps. I look forward to being able to share more details about these items with you in the near future.

In the meantime, I want to challenge everyone to begin to think of yourself as not only a psychiatric pharmacist (or another type of pharmacist), but also as a mental health professional working together with other mental health professionals to meet the needs of patients. As Aristotle once said, “the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.” The same can be said of psychiatric pharmacists. We are inherently more impactful when we work with others rather than operating from the viewpoint of a pharmacy silo.

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