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By Brenda Schimenti, Executive Director

Several years ago, CPNP conducted an extensive member survey to gather your input on what was important to you as members. Education and access to timely information were the highest priorities, but members also called on us to advance the profession through involvement with outside organizations and individuals. CPNP’s strategic plan, in turn, prioritizes these items and member feedback through ongoing surveys, discussions, and committee feedback continues to reinforce these priorities.

Past Presidents Ray Love and Chris Thomas recalled the many discussions and deliberations of the Board as CPNP looked to expand its external focus. Although a commitment of resources had to be considered, the CPNP Board recognized that engaging more externally would provide CPNP with opportunities to expand their reach and have a much larger footprint on issues that are important to psychiatric pharmacy. CPNP had developed a voice; we needed opportunities to make that voice matter,” said Ray Love, CPNP 2015-2016 President.

Echoing Dr. Love, Chris Thomas, CPNP 2016-2017 President said, “Although we knew it would take time to learn the ropes, the Board ultimately agreed that investing resources in external relationships that would bring collective resources to bear toward impacting government affairs, professional affairs and advancement of the profession would be critical in generating positive results for the profession of psychiatric pharmacy.”

CPNP Boards over the past three years have taken many deliberate steps to increase CPNP’s involvement and investment in external relationships. These include:

  1. Conducting a government affairs audit and ultimately contracting with District Policy Group (DPG) to provide DC based government affairs and advocacy services.
  2. Joining the Joint Commission of Pharmacy Practitioners (JCPP) as well as other professional organizations.
  3. Joining numerous coalitions.
  4. Investing in professional affairs campaigns to support profession visibility.

During the Forum on our Future at CPNP 2019 in Salt Lake City, President Megan Ehret presented several slides that provided a great visual as to how, over the course of the last 5 years, CPNP has invested in expanding its external outreach and partnerships.

CPNP’s investment in coalitions and partnerships has helped the organization to:

  • join a chorus of voices which can be stronger than a single voice
  • using resources efficiently and effectively
  • enhance our reach politically
  • leverage the relative strengths of each member organization, including CPNP
  • facilitate information sharing
  • avoid duplicative advocacy efforts
  • learn from each other

For smaller associations like CPNP, coalitions can provide significant support by aggregating resources. Additionally, coalitions and partnerships have proven to strengthen advocacy work on Capitol Hill and amongst regulatory bodies. A diverse group of organizations working cooperatively can send a powerful message to lawmakers and regulators and allow legislators and regulators to communicate with one body.

When considering coalitions and partnerships, CPNP evaluates:

  • The mission, platform, and goals of the coalition/partner and congruence with CPNP positions and strategic plan
  • The established infrastructure to support the coalition or partnership
  • How work is distributed amongst members
  • Cost
  • Who the other partners are
  • Whether involvement in this coalition/partnership might lead to additional opportunities

Forging relationships with individuals and organizations is not something that happens overnight. It takes time to build up a track record and establish communications and trust. CPNP and its members are beginning to reap the benefits of these efforts with increased recognition amongst legislative offices, regulators such as the FDA and CMS, fellow pharmacy organizations, the Veterans Affairs system, and other organizations outside of pharmacy in the realms of psychiatry and addiction medicine. CPNP will keep you updated on progress and invite you to share and participate in opportunities for us to extend our collective voice as the opportunities arise.

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