April Newsletter

Message from the Board
By: SPA Executive Vice President Steven Webbenhurst

We’ve all heard the phrase, “April showers bring May flowers.” And we all know the answer to, “What do Mayflowers bring?” Of course the answer is Pilgrims!

I think we are all happy that the showers we are having are rain showers and not snow showers. Spring is a time of rejuvenation outdoors. Trees bud, flowers bloom and our attitudes become sunnier as well. We are also familiar with the phrase “spring cleaning” which is sometimes long overdue. Maybe this spring we should all vow to rejuvenate our work routine and clean out our bad habits.

I know I fall into the habit of regurgitating patient consultation information on common drugs as if I were a robot. I have to watch myself to make sure I’m providing the information pertinent to that individual patient with each consultation. I have to ask myself, “What information would I want presented by a pharmacist if it was my family picking up a prescription?”

We can easily update or alter how we talk to patients. Perhaps you’ve read something new about a drug, share that with your staff and your patients if appropriate. Are we remembering to ask patients about new allergies, OTC drugs they might be taking and about issues they may be experiencing with their drug regimen?

I also find that I become complacent with how things are arranged in my pharmacy. I’ve been there for five years now, and just recently relocated some things in my pharmacy to improve workflow and rid our setting of unnecessary clutter. I guess that was my form of spring cleaning!

I think with the freshness of spring, we need to look at our work and see what we do with a fresh perspective. We all have the power to spruce up our work environment, weather it is cleaning dusty areas, rearranging things or as simple as looking at what we are wearing (ink stained white lab jackets, scrubs that are too big or small, tears or rips in our uniforms, dirty nametags, etc).

Let’s make spring a time for our professional renewal this year!

March Newsletter

March Madness
By: SPA Executive Vice President Steven Webbenhurst

It’s that time of year again as the days get longer, we “spring ahead” with our clocks, and March Madness overtakes the weather as the hot conversation topic. March Madness brings together some of the top college basketball teams in the country, showcasing superior athletic talent. Competition runs rampant and most people have a favorite team they cheer for. Some teams always seem to reach the “Sweet 16” and there are always a few underdogs that make it, and are the new kids on the block.

When I moved to Spokane in 1993, I was part of the new kids on the pharmacy block. Walgreens was new to Spokane and some of the regulars weren’t so happy to have us here. I remember calling to transfer prescriptions from competitors only to be told there were no refills remaining, yet the patient’s bottle showed something different. We were competition, and especially for independent pharmacies, we changed the pharmacy landscape in Spokane.

But just as that landscape has continued to change, so has the attitude of pharmacists and pharmacies. Every day I transfer prescriptions in from other pharmacies and transfer some out to others as well. My focus is that I want what is best for the patient. Sure I hate to lose business by transferring prescriptions out to other pharmacies, but in many cases it just makes sense. Perhaps the other pharmacy is more convenient for a patient, or is their “regular” pharmacy. Being located in a medical complex, I fill a lot of prescriptions for patients that are being dismissed from the hospital or from one of the providers in my building (so it’s convenient at the time for the patient).

But I think the mindset in pharmacies has changed in the last few years. As we perform MTM services, vaccinate patients, facilitate prior authorizations, coordinate patient care and other functions for them, I think we all have what is best for the patient at the forefront of our mind. I see this regularly in my IPPE and APPE student pharmacists as well. This is a focus for them in pharmacy school, and WSU does an outstanding job.

Although there will always be competition between pharmacies for business (so that we all stay in business), I think the real competition today is to provide the best service and care for our patients. That is the focus in pharmacy today: service and care for our patients.

February Newsletter

By: SPA Executive Vice President Steven Webbenhurst

When I say February, what comes to mind first? For me, it is Valentine’s Day. As you walk through almost any retail store, from Home Depot to the Dollar Store, you see something reminding you that Valentine’s Day is approaching. Pink and red hearts surround you as you pass by the displays, reminding you to get something for those you love.

Love–a word we use often. We love people, places, pets, hobbies, foods, almost anything. But do we love our jobs? Pharmacy has changed significantly since I graduated in 1984. Back then, most of my classmates entered the job market with positions at independent pharmacies or retail chains. About a quarter of them went into hospital pharmacy with a small minority finding clinical positions that were relatively new at that point.

As I said, the pharmacy world has changed. There are far fewer independent pharmacies these days and most pharmacy chains are booming. But that’s not the only difference. The healthcare world has opened up so many new opportunities for pharmacists over the last decade or two. Long term care positions have expanded. We have pharmacists that specialize in so many areas including nuclear, ambulatory care, MTM, compounding, manufacturer clinical liaisons and specialized pharmacists in all the disease states. And as the size and number of pharmacy schools has increased, so has the need for pharmacy faculty.

I hope you love your job as much as I love mine. If you don’t, there are so many areas to explore. There may be an area you have never considered that might be perfect for you. A great way learn about other areas is by attending one of our events (CE talks, social/networking events, annual banquet) and talking with other pharmacy professionals.

A number of years ago, North Idaho College was looking for a pharmacist to help with their pharmacy technician program. I ended up teaching 8 credit hours at NIC for several years in addition to working 42 hours a week as a pharmacy manager for Walgreens. I am still on their Pharmacy Technician advisory committee. When I was a district pharmacy supervisor for Walgreens, I stumbled across an early training session to become an immunizer and later became a trainer for the APhA program. I currently work at the Walgreens located on the Deaconess campus and we specialize in HIV and HepC. Having been a pharmacist for nearly 35 years, I attribute my job satisfaction to the various roles I’ve had over the years including my time serving on the Spokane Pharmacy Association board.

So my words of advice to both young and experienced technicians and pharmacists is to love your job, or find one that matches your skills and interests. That job is out there! Find it and live it!

January Newsletter

By: SPA Executive Vice President Steven Webbenhurst

As 2018 came to a close, and 2019 approached, I was reminded of Y2K. For those of you in your 20’s, Y2K was the term that was used to refer to the year 2000 in the preceding decade. Although computers had become common in the ‘90’s, most computer systems hadn’t been programmed to deal with the change in the year format, from 19XX to 20XX. Although a lot of work was done to ensure programs wouldn’t crash as 1999 rolled over into 2000, many people were skeptical. We weren’t sure if bank ATMs would function, gas pumps would work, if we’d have power and water, and if businesses would be able to operate. Our Y2K fears proved to be unfounded.

Many things in our lives have changed in the last 19 years. First thing that comes to mind is the way cell phones have changed over those years. From simple phones with keypads similar to traditional phones, to ones that connect us to the internet, control our TVs and lights, and our course, allow us to text friends. Another thing that has changed is the way we practice pharmacy.

One thing that stands out is how pharmacy and pharmacists have impacted the health of our patients by providing immunizations. Pharmacists have always been famous for being accessible their patients, and that made us perfectly aligned to provide immunizations. Last year, roughly 30 million flu shots alone were administered by pharmacists/interns. And Idaho has begun a program allowing trained technicians to administer immunizations under the supervision of a pharmacist.

There are many other areas in pharmacy that have changed as well. The role of technicians continues to expand and they have become an integral part in the operation of pharmacy. Medication therapy management (MTM) has become more commonplace. Collaborative practice agreements have allowed pharmacists to pursue areas that interest them, from health testing to prescribing select medications and beyond. These are just a few of the changes I’ve seen.

On a day-to-day basis, it seems like pharmacy remains relatively stagnant. But looking back to a prior time (like Y2K), reminds us of how far pharmacy has come.

My two questions for you are, “Where do you envision pharmacy 19 years from now? Where can we take it?”

2017 Fall Newsletter

By: SPA Past-President Linda Vierra

“Back to School” sales for new tools and more learning slowly but surely lead us all into becoming more aware that we are actually “always in school” in order to do our best.

Backpacks are a visible means of carrying one’s new tools needed for learning, as well as an indication that the person is anticipating and “leaning into” the task (joy?) of learning new and valuable information. Little did we know as children when we eagerly donned those backpacks that we were taking our first steps into being perpetual learners. This is particularly true of the pharmacy profession.

A colleague of mine told me that he tried to read a minimum of 15 minutes (after work!) and to learn one new thing every night. What amazed him was how often he needed to know that one piece of information shortly after he’d learned it.

As we head into the home stretch of the year, the Spokane Pharmacy Association will be offering you a virtual backpack – full of new tools and ideas to help you stay current, stay connected to your fellow pharmacy colleagues, and stay excited about your profession.

SPA has planned varied CE topics and social events for this fall, so look for more information to be up on the website soon, and watch your email for the dates and details: Continue reading “2017 Fall Newsletter”

President Spring Message

Dear Colleagues,
The Spokane Pharmacy Association (SPA) hit the ground running in 2017 and we are planning a diversity of events and activities that will not fail to benefit your practice and fill your calendar with fun networking. The SPA Board of Managers met for the Annual Winter/Spring Retreat the middle of February and I am so excited for what our highly talented and dedicated team will achieve this upcoming year! Continue reading “President Spring Message”

2016 Wrap-Up

SPA Newsletter: 2016 Wrap-Up

We ended our year with a later-than-usual, but better-than-ever Annual Awards Meeting. We had great vendors representing many different companies and organizations, a WSU student poster, and fun raffles! We had some truly deserving people recognized for the work they are doing in the world of pharmacy, and of course, we had an exceptional group of people gathered to celebrate SPA.

The highlight of the evening was an engaging and energizing presentation by Dr. Tomkowiak, dean of the WSU Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine, who encouraged all people in the pharmacy world to use innovation, imagination, and futuristic thinking to move OUR profession into a new era. Some of the current changes would have been unthinkable a few years ago, and his recommendation is to push past today’s limits and reach out to create new and different applications of pharmaceutical medicine that are “bold and audacious!” Continue reading “2016 Wrap-Up”

Fall President’s Message

October is a curious month – outside the fall foliage and garden produce is present in wild abandon, and yet we all know that we’re about to enter the winter season. All around us, activities at work, school or play of all kinds proceed at a feverish pace, and yet we’re all aware that we’re nearing the end of the calendar year. So if we “start with the end in mind,” let’s look at the SPA events and activities for the remainder of 2016.

Everything always looks better if we can look forward to a party at the end, so let’s do that…

 picture1 Please plan on attending our
Spokane Pharmacy Association Annual Awards Meeting December 1, 2016!

We are planning a fabulous event at the Grand Hotel. The pre-dinner networking features vendor interaction, no-host bar, hors d’oeuvres, and the winning WSU student poster. After the elegant buffet dinner, our keynote speaker is Dr. Tomkowiak, dean of the new WSU medical school. The focal point of the evening then follows with the announcement of the awards for Pharmacist and Pharmacy of the Year, Technician of the Year, Speaker of the Year, Student/Resident of the Year. You’ll be getting more details soon, or you can see the information on www.spokanepharmacy.org. Register early and gather up a table of friends! (Buy tickets now!) Continue reading “Fall President’s Message”

Summer 2016 President’s Message


As the Olympics end, I noticed that there are some parallels to having a professional career:

  • Integrity matters, even in the smallest of details. Enough said.
  • Personal excellence is something that requires daily effort in order to grow and to show small but continuous improvement.
  • Recognizing achievements of team members and being an advocate for your team can make a difference, both in the moment and in the long term.

The first two are givens for pharmacy professionals, but we could do better at the third one. I’m sure you each thank your co-workers when they provide exceptional service, do innovative problem-solving, or lend their expertise to make a situation better for someone, but have you considered nominating a co-worker for one of SPA’s annual awards? Sure, it won’t get them a gold medal or a spot on a sports commercial, but it does provide an opportunity to let them know that their hard work is noticed. Remember that anyone can nominate in any category – pharmacist, technician, student preceptor, and across all practice sectors. We’ll be asking soon for nominations for our annual awards, so please consider nominating at least one person as a thank you for their efforts. Continue reading “Summer 2016 President’s Message”

Spring President’s Message

Dear SPA Members,

We are off to an awesome start for 2016! We have already had a social networking event at Liberty Ciderworks, two C.E. events (Washington State Immunization Records System review in January and the dynamic, student organized, WSU-NCPA event on “Technology Innovations in Community Pharmacies”) and a third C.E. on the Washington State Pharmacy Review Process coming up on March 22nd and 23rd.

Before we continue on with 2016, I’d like to acknowledge two outstanding SPA Board members who left the Board at the end of 2015:

  • Jason Doss, your amazing source of great education opportunities for the last few years, has turned the C.E. duties over to Brett Haney
  • Past-President Manpreet Chahal has stepped off the SPA Board, but is still representing the Spokane area on the WSPA Board
  • Chris Greer is now the SPA past-president, but continues to provide leadership in many areas, especially with the Community Pharmacy Forum, and working with the Spokane Regional Health District on their immunization and tobacco education programs.

These three people have raised the quality of all of the SPA educational and community projects to a whole new level in the last few years. Continue reading “Spring President’s Message”