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Professional associations serve pharmacists in a number of ways. Perhaps most importantly, associations monitor important legislation impacting health care and pharmacy and act as advocates for all types of pharmacists. Legislation has transformed health care over the last several decades, and associations stay on top of relevant issues, offer guidance to individual pharmacists and lobby for the profession as a whole.
APhA serves as the voice for all pharmacists, and the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) primarily works to advance individual pharmacists. Chains are represented by the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS), and pharmacists who work in hospitals and clinics are served by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP).
Associations are also important sources of information and continuing education. They help pharmacists keep up with the profession’s rapid advances through informative emails, newsletters, magazines, position papers, and journals. Many provide professional development courses as well through which pharmacists can focus on specialized treatment therapies such as immunizations or hyperglycemia in the elderly.
Along with APhA and ASHP, resources are provided by the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP), the American College of Clinical Pharmacy (ACCP), and the National Pharmaceutical Association (NPhA)
Associations also provide collegial networks where pharmacists can discuss opportunities and challenges and ways to advance their careers. They support or offer new ideas to other pharmacy organizations—such as the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP)—that focus on developing and enforcing professional standards and regulations.