This headline is not a reference to the Iowa Caucuses that formally launched the presidential nomination process this week. Rather, this headline refers to another important event held in Iowa this week: an NACDS RxIMPACT Training Program at Drake University College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences in Des Moines.

There is nothing commonplace about creating 200 newly-trained pharmacist ambassadors.

It might be tempting to overlook as “commonplace” each one of these grassroots training programs. After all, the NACDS RxIMPACT program hosted 24 such programs for member companies and colleges and schools of pharmacy in 2015. That is in addition to 156 Congressional pharmacy tours and events with members of Congress in their states and districts, 462 Congressional meetings during NACDS RxIMPACT Day on Capitol Hill, and other activities.

However, there is nothing commonplace about creating 200 newly-trained pharmacist ambassadors, which is what NACDS RxIMPACT did in Iowa this week. This is the essential work of helping to create trust-based relationships between the people of pharmacy and government decision-makers at the federal and state levels. This is the essential work of empowering pharmacy advocates to communicate and demonstrate pharmacies as the “face of neighborhood healthcare.”

With the NACDS Regional Chain Conference beginning this weekend, NACDS members will be hearing more and more about opportunities to engage in grassroots activities – including the get-out-the-vote initiative that we call NACDS RxIMPACT Votes. That aspect of the grassroots program is dedicated to empowering pharmacy advocates to engage in the electoral process for the political candidates of their choice – and make the value and views of pharmacy known in the process.

For sure, a lot of attention has been paid to the importance of political and policy engagement in Iowa this week. And there is no form of this engagement that is more vital to the future of patient care, to the industry, and to the profession than the grassroots training enjoyed by 200 student pharmacists this week.