My contributions include research on expanding access to family planning services in pharmacies and through pharmacists, training pharmacists and other healthcare workers, and advocating for access to contraceptives with consumers and organizations. I have led efforts to include the pharmacist voice on family planning issues by advocating with policymakers. I am proud of my efforts to inspire, guide, and educate pharmacy students in their journey to providing family planning services in their future practices.
I've always believed in the rights to control if and when individuals have children. During pharmacy school, I discovered my role in delivering family planning services and advocating for others to do the same within my profession and beyond. More specifically, my journey began with a lecture on emergency contraception. I began volunteering with local nonprofit organizations, including Planned Parenthood, to increase access in pharmacies and accuracy of patient education in clinic settings.
I've faced resistance to the role of pharmacists in family planning services. Pharmacists are the most accessible healthcare providers. I promote the convenience, expanded hours, and free or inexpensive pharmacy services to teens to older adults to utilize this resource. I’ve helped expand the pharmacist’s scope in California to include prescribing of contraceptive pills, patch, ring, and injection. I train pharmacists and students to competently provide emergency and hormonal contraceptives.
The biggest challenge is access. The barriers range from insurance coverage limitations on supplies and covered services to restricted healthcare worker scopes of practice to provider knowledge gaps. Insurance and scope barriers can be addressed with policy changes. Provider knowledge can be addressed in the health professions curriculum and continuing education. Provider competency is essential in ensuring family planning is addressed alongside primary and specialty healthcare services.
In the next five years, I plan to increase access for women --both in my own community and across the country -- to family planning services in pharmacies and other community-based clinics by pharmacists. I will be advocating for policy changes to expand the pharmacists' scope of practice to include directly providing contraception to patients. In addition, I'll be advocating within the pharmacy profession by training students and practicing pharmacists alike to provide contraception services.