One of the many rewards of living in a democracy is the right and duty of electing government officials who will make policy on your behalf that could influence the direction of this country. In a democratic society, the issue of who to vote for is at best “messy” and at worst “catastrophic.” It is often diluted and influenced by advertisements and other sources of theoretical rhetoric. While some voters simply vote along party lines regardless of who is running for office and what their platform is, others take a closer, open-minded approach to scrutinize the candidates for what they can offer to make this country, and their lives, stronger and more successful. The one undeniable truth is that the huge amount of power that is put into the hands of eligible voters in choosing the direction of their personal futures and the future of this country should not be wasted.

As an integral part of the professional healthcare community, pharmacists should be keenly aware of candidates’ platforms and how they could affect not only their well-being, but also their livelihoods. Pharmacists need a strong political voice at the state, county, city, and national levels of government. While medical professions, including pharmacy, have made great strides over the years, there is still a lot of work to be done. State, national, and local pharmacy associations cannot do it alone, especially if they do not hear from pharmacists in every practice setting about their role in the future of healthcare. Too many pharmacists are silent on important issues affecting their profession. If politicians running for office at the local and federal levels don’t hear your voice, they have no compass to follow in passing legislation that favors pharmacy.

While the presidential election next month is grabbing most the headlines these days, there are numerous other elections that could influence the profession. It is incumbent that pharmacists take the time to learn the issues and see what is at stake by contacting their state senators, state members of the House of Representatives, governors, and the mayors of their cities. They should study each candidate’s platform and choose the one that not only suits their personal needs, but that of the profession of pharmacy.

One such issue is that of provider status for pharmacists. While provider status is slowly making inroads in pharmacy, getting paid for consultation across all medication therapy management services is crucial for the profession. The advent of consultation reimbursement has been painfully slow. Challenge the candidates and ask them specifically what their thoughts are on this and other issues directly affecting our profession.

The Rx for voting is fairly simple: Do your homework on the issues, challenge the candidates running for office, choose the best candidate regardless of party, and finally and most importantly, be sure to vote.