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Brenda Schimenti
CPNP Executive Director

In March of 2001, George W. Bush had just succeeded Bill Clinton as President of the United States, the Baltimore Ravens had won Super Bowl XXXV, Bob the Builder had just debuted on Nick Jr, cell phones still had number pads, and the world trade center still towered over NYC. That year, I started working for CPNP as their part-time Executive Director. CPNP had just taken the leap of engaging its first staff through an association management company. I took on the role of Executive Director for CPNP while also serving as the Executive Director for the Nebraska Funeral Directors Association.

At that time in 2001:

  • Psychiatric pharmacy was considered to be approximately 30 years old.
  • The BPS psychiatric pharmacy specialty (BCPP) had existed for 9 years.
  • There were 388 BCPPs.
  • The ACPE requirements for the PharmD program were only 4 years old.
  • There were fewer than 20 psychiatric pharmacy residencies and ASHP standards requiring psychiatric pharmacy residency programs to be PGY2 were still 6 years in the future.
  • CPNP had 362 members.
  • 36 scientific abstracts were presented at CPNP 2001 in San Antonio.
  • ACPE and BCPP credit were awarded through providers other than CPNP.
  • CPNP’s logo incorporated a mortar and pestle.

It has been a transformative twenty years. Consider the CPNP of today:

  • 2,900 members call CPNP their association home.
  • A million article views are recorded to CPNP’s PubMed indexed Mental Health Clinician journal over a year
  • 55 student chapters have over 1,300 student chapter members.
  • CPNP is a member of numerous coalitions including the Joint Commission of Pharmacy Practitioners (JCPP).
  • Over 23,000 ACPE credit hours are awarded to individuals annually through CPNP.
  • 215 scientific abstracts at CPNP 2021 are contributing knowledge and advancing patient care and the profession.
  • Over 100 comment letters to legislators and regulators supporting or combating legislation on behalf of the profession were developed and delivered in 2020.
  • Hundreds have been involved in CPNP’s strategic planning effort through surveys, focus groups, research groups, and committees.
  • 1/5th of CPNP members, constituting 600+ members, provide volunteer service to CPNP. There are more volunteers today than there were members when I started with CPNP!

Through these changes, we have doubled our staff from 2 to 4 individuals and my focus has shifted from the annual meeting to recertification, and now to partnerships and advocacy. What hasn’t changed is my love of our mission and the CPNP members. From the minute I started working with CPNP founders and active members in 2001, I was impressed. The organization and its members had vision, tenacity, passion, and heart. Members cared for each other, the profession, and most of all, their patients. I treasure the friendships formed while working with so many that have volunteered thousands of hours of their expertise and energy. Even as membership grows and the organization matures, your vision, tenacity, passion, and heart are still there.

As we prepare for CPNP’s 25th anniversary in 2022, I have re-read archived documents and enjoyed hearing the stories of founding members who were active in the formation of CPNP. Steve Saklad, PharmD, BCPP, provided a summary of the proceedings of a 1994 meeting where the precursor organization, the Conference for Psychiatric and Neurologic Pharmacy, recorded its “wants” for the organization that would later officially become the professional association named the College of Psychiatric and Neurologic Pharmacists (CPNP). These wants included:

  • Educate our constituency and our consumers
  • Communicate (form relationships and alliances)
  • Recruit pharmacists to join us
  • Compile accomplishments
  • Fundraise
  • Publish
  • Change status of pharmacy within society
  • Allay the fears of society regarding drug therapy and reduce the stigma of mental illness and epilepsy
  • Allay the fears within existing pharmacy organizations concerning our existence. Communicate our desire to cooperate, not compete.
  • Help establish new priorities for society (evolution of the pharmacist's role)
  • Establish dialogs with national psychiatric organizations.
  • Facilitate State and National pharmacy organization's efforts in support of prescriptive authority.
  • Promote the need for two line prescriptions (MD and R.Ph.), with pharmacists as the "gatekeeper" signing off on prescriptions prior to their dispensing.
  • Market ourselves to our consumers (pharmacists, patients, health care administrators, etc.)

Although there is still work to be done, we have made progress on many of these things and more. As I reflect on my 20th anniversary with CPNP and the many accomplishments of CPNP, I hope that the 40 pharmacists at this 1994 meeting and the 116 pharmacists who paid $100 to found CPNP, are proud of the organization they conceived and jump-started. I hope the thousands of current CPNP members are proud of what they are building not only for today, but for the benefit of the next generation of psychiatric pharmacists. I hope my fellow staff members at CPNP, Greg, Vanessa, and Katie, know how impressed and proud I am of them every day.

I am in awe of the work CPNP members do every day to care for and improve outcomes for those living with psychiatric, neurologic, and/or substance use disorders. Thank you for the opportunity to support those efforts as Executive Director of CPNP for the past 20 years. I treasure the sense of community and I am excited for the big changes to come as we embark on our newest strategic plan.

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