<p>The sum of all the parts of the NACDS RxIMPACT grassroots advocacy program is to build relationships to secure the future of pharmacy. </p>

Nice. But what does that mean?

First, if you’re going to be in a relationship, you need to be sure you are relationship material. In other words—put yourself out there and emphasize the mutual connections to constituents that you have and put pharmacy’s role in the community into perspective, then establish an ongoing dialogue with legislators. That means staying in touch with legislators and their staff members on several platforms, such as registering for email updates and connecting on social media.

It’s also important to know the legislative priorities that are most timely to bring up with legislators—like the current provider status bill—H.R. 4190, which would allow pharmacists to be paid by Medicare Part B for providing services in medically underserved communities. Then build to the engagement of hosting an NACDS RxIMPACT pharmacy tour for legislators and their staff members.

The NACDS RxIMPACT grassroots training program travels around the country educating pharmacy students and other stakeholders about the nuts and bolts of grassroots advocacy and why it’s essential to advancing pro-pharmacy, pro-patient legislative priorities and key issues related to healthcare reform. Following the recent NACDS RxIMPACT training program at the Bi Lo–Winn Dixie’s Fall 2014 Pharmacy Sales Planning Meeting, Charlie Van Pelt, Bo-Lo’s director of pharmacy purchasing, said, “Our engagement in the process continues to be critical to keeping the business environment for our industry viable in the new age of managed everything.”

The culmination of all the training and relationship building reaches a pinnacle at the NACDS RxIMPACT Day on Capitol Hill, which is scheduled for March 11–12, 2015, in Washington, D.C. The signature advocacy event brings hundreds of participants to Washington to promote pharmacy policies.

Congressmen and their staffers are notoriously busy and overbooked. Does all the effort and engagement pay off? Feedback from the pharmacy tours is universally glowing because legislators want to know how their constituents’ lives are impacted—bad or good—in their communities. Pharmacy tours show them, first-hand, the day to day, positive impact pharmacy plays in connecting with patients in the community and improving their health outcomes.

The nationwide, in-person connections that the NACDS RxIMPACT program facilitates—through trainings, pharmacy tours and an annual major advocacy event in Washington, D.C.—are creating a wide-reaching and beneficial network of support that is showing Congress why pharmacy matters, and why they should care—every day.