Greg Payne, MBA, AAPP Director of Strategic Initiatives
AAPP has been expanding its efforts to advocate for psychiatric pharmacists. The aggressive strategic plan approved in 2021 led to the formation of the Commission on Innovation and Advancement (CIA) to focus on future issues facing the specialty and to guide our advocacy efforts. The CIA, along with the Board of Directors, the Government Affairs Committee (GAC), and the Professional Affairs Committee (PA), invested significant effort into building a strong foundation for effective and efficient advocacy moving forward.
That concerted effort created several key resources promoted in the spring of 2022. GAC released a toolkit related to federal advocacy, and PA released new practice profiles. These resources moved their respective initiatives forward and affirmed that AAPP is ready to expand into important new areas that will shape psychiatric pharmacy practice over the coming years. Core to that expansion is the 2022 Vision Paper (“Positioning psychiatric pharmacists to improve mental health care”) authored by CIA and published in the April 2022 Mental Health Clinician (MHC), which casts a vision for what the specialty can and should look like in the coming years. The final key resource released this spring by a PA subcommittee outlined the best practice attributes in outpatient psychiatric pharmacy and is also available in the April 2022 MHC.
With a broad vision and stronger infrastructure in place, we took steps to move quickly during this committee year on three new advocacy fronts: workforce, practice, and research. Between the old and new workgroups, we now have 50+ volunteers working to advance our advocacy efforts, and that translates into significant activity to report.
We are addressing workforce issues so we can better advocate for psychiatric pharmacists looking for positions. Of course, GAC and PA continue their efforts with regulators, legislators, physicians, administrators, and other stakeholders. Additionally, the new Employer Resource Center (ERC) Task Force is developing a plan for what resources and materials would most effectively encourage employers to hire BCPPs, to support BCPPs, and to encourage their employees to become BCPPs. Their research phase includes interviews, web research, and feedback from members like you (submit your own experiences at cpnp.org/erc). The ERC is a tangible goal that fills an obvious need.
Less obvious is how to encourage more pharmacists to specialize in psychiatric pharmacy and earn the BCPP. That challenge is being discussed by the Workforce Development Paper Task Force. They have already identified 15+ distinct sources of potential BCPPs, and they are discussing strategies available to cultivate interest among those groups. Rather than simply reiterating the need for more BCPPs, the task force is working diligently to identify strategies that will make a more direct impact on pharmacists’ career decisions. In combination, these workgroups are proactively shaping the future psychiatric pharmacy workforce.
We are addressing practice issues so we can better advocate for the role of psychiatric pharmacists on the mental health team. GAC and PA continue with their efforts to promote the role of psychiatric pharmacists, and new workgroups are building on the 2022 Vision Paper to clarify exactly what that role should be. The Vision Paper introduced the concept of psychotropic stewardship, and the Psychotropic Stewardship Paper Task Force is working to develop the concept and provide initial implementation guidance. This project is a pivotal step toward defining the stewardship role of BCPPs in the future.
From a broader perspective, the Outpatient Psychiatric Pharmacist Best Practice Task Force is building on the best practice attributes published this spring. This year, the group is focused on developing implementation guidance and identifying potential assessment strategies. Based on the initial research, many BCPPs already adhere to many of the attribute statements, and the new resources will further increase consistency between outpatient psychiatric pharmacist practices.
Finally, changes to practice require the support of the entire mental health treatment team. We have formed the Interprofessional Advisory Council to gather insights from other professionals practicing in a variety of settings. The dozen advisors provide external perspectives on both workforce and practice issues. In combination, these workgroups are proactively shaping the future of practice.
We are addressing research issues so we can use the best evidence possible while advocating for psychiatric pharmacists. The Systematic Literature Review Committee (SLR) has taken over the work of a PA subcommittee to identify all relevant published research in PubMed. The preliminary results of the review were presented as a poster at CPNP 2022. They are finalizing the review this year and monitoring for any new publications.
The SLR research provides a foundation for improving the quality and breadth of research. The Core Outcome Set Task Force has a research plan that will yield a list of outcomes and specific measures that psychiatric pharmacists should use in their practice and in their research. Their first steps involve extracting all outcomes and measures that have been published in any of the articles identified by SLR.
Standardizing which outcomes to track is an important step forward, and the Research Design Task Force is looking at the rest of the research process. They are evaluating how to encourage more collaboration and standardized research models that can be aggregated efficiently. By shaping research, we create a stronger and more consistent message for employers, payers, and legislators. In combination, these workgroups are proactively shaping the future of research.
We expect significant progress on the core advocacy issues of workforce, practice, and research. The workgroups are proceeding independently without any prescriptive charges, so we find ourselves waiting in anticipation of their recommendations. Representatives of the groups met in-person at CPNP 2022 to ensure they were aligned, and they are coordinating throughout the year to ensure that all of the efforts continue to work in concert. Continue watching AAPP communications to learn of the progress and to participate in the exciting initiatives that will advance the specialty in the coming years.