Can pharmacy students advocate for pharmacists prescribing hormonal contraceptives? YES, that is exactly what Wilson Pace, a graduate of the University of Utah College of Pharmacy did. When Wilson heard about the barriers and costs that women experience when accessing contraceptives. His perseverance and dedication to advocacy as a pharmacy student allowed him to take action in his leadership class. Wilson drafted a “dream bill” which became Bill 184 in Utah. Bill 184 was passed in 2019 and allowed women in Utah to receive birth control prescriptions from their pharmacist.
Fast forward to 2022; we now have 26 states + D.C that have either statewide protocols or collaboration practice agreements that allow pharmacists to prescribe birth control. But as pharmacy students we can do more! As of early 2022, the map below shows where pharmacists can prescribe hormonal contraceptives.
As future pharmacists we know that pharmacists are the most accessible healthcare providers (9 out of 10 Americans living within five miles of a pharmacy). The benefits pharmacists can offer women who are seeking hormonal contraceptives include accessibility, limiting barriers as well as reduced costs.
Here are three easy ways pharmacy students can advocate for pharmacists to prescribe hormonal contraceptives if their state has not passed legislation yet:
- Research to see if any bills have been introduced in your state. If a bill has not been introduced you can help advocate for one to be started or start your own!
- Contact policymakers and advocate for them to support bills that allow. You can also look up your policy makers here:
- Speak up and educate others by using your voice on social media such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram. Share why it is important to you that pharmacists are able to provide access to contraceptives. To help spread your message to a larger audience use hashtags such as #advocacy #pharmacystudents #birthcontrol #birthcontrolpharmacies
What if you currently live in a state that allows pharmacists to prescribe contraceptives, can you still make an impact? The answer is YES! Even if your state has allowed pharmacists to prescribe contraceptives you can still advocate here are 3 ways you can help:
- Check the Birth Control Pharmacies map to see if your pharmacy is listed. If your state allows pharmacists to prescribe hormonal contraceptives, encourage your pharmacist to fill out this form. This will help women be able to find a pharmacy near them.
- Educate yourself by taking Birth Control Pharmacist’s free home study course to learn how to provide contraceptive care during the COVID-19 public health emergency. It is important to stay up to date on the ways you facilitate access to over-the-counter and prescription contraceptives.
- Promote brainstorm ways that your pharmacy can promote contraceptive services. Maybe this is by creating a private area for counseling or developing ideas on how you can promote birth control services at your pharmacy.
I was interested in learning more about pharmacists prescribing hormonal contraceptives so I reached out to Dr. Rafie who allowed me to complete a rotation with her at Birth Control Pharmacist. I learned so much about legislation and advocacy during my 4 weeks on rotation. I was even able to discuss upcoming legislation that impacts pharmacists in South Carolina with my school’s Dean. Taking action as a student is a great way to impact the future of pharmacy.
There are numerous ways pharmacy students can advocate for increased access to contraceptive services. As pharmacy students we have the power to advocate for legislation just like Wilson Pace and make an impact. Whether it is helping change an entire state’s contraceptive laws or helping a woman find a local pharmacy that provides contraceptive services it is important that we support everyone’s reproductive health and choices!
“If you want to make a difference in health care, you have to be involved…you have to advocate for your profession.” — Wilson Pace
About the Author
Amy Ackershoek is a pharmacy student in the Class of 2022 at the Medical University of South Carolina College of Pharmacy.