What is it like to be a board of pharmacy member? This feature gets behind-the-scenes with members to reveal a board’s inner workings.

Becca Mitchell, PharmD

Member of the Arkansas Board of Pharmacy

When were you appointed to the Board of Pharmacy? Are you a pharmacist, technician, public member, or other type of member?

I am a pharmacist and was appointed in July 2017 by Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson.

In your opinion, what steps should a board member take to be successful in his or her role?

I think it is important to be confident in your areas of expertise and also admit the specialties in which you may have knowledge gaps. I ask a lot of questions to make sure I fully understand the impact of my votes on the pharmacists directly affected and the patients they serve.

What are some recent policies, legislation, or regulations your Board has implemented or is currently working on?

The Arkansas State Board of Pharmacy recently updated Regulation 7, which adds the ability for pharmacy interns and technicians to participate in prescription transfers (one of the participants must be a pharmacist). We’ve also worked on a protocol that allows pharmacists to initiate therapy and administer and/or dispense naloxone. Other policies that have come up recently involve medication “pickup” stations and preserving patients’ freedom of pharmacy choice, hospital-based infusion services, and intern hours completed in federal facilities.

Has the Board encountered any challenges to developing and/or implementing these new policies, legislation, or regulations? If so, explain.

The debate surrounding the update to Regulation 7 was interesting, with a number of groups advocating for technician-to-technician verbal prescription transfers. I have found the pickup station discussions, which primarily involve patients who are transient or have other barriers to consistent treatment, to be fascinating. On the one hand, we need to recognize the pharmacist’s importance in the triad and, on the other hand, we need to allow policies to evolve so that patient care is optimized, whether in the traditional prescription dispensing role or otherwise.

What advice would you give to a new board member?

Do not be afraid to speak up. I had this plan to be quiet for the first year and just learn. That plan went by the wayside, and I am so glad it did. My intent was to be respectful, but I would have done a disservice to my colleagues if I was not fully engaged and participating. Just because your perspective is new does not minimize its importance.

Have you served as a member of any NABP task forces or committees, or attended NABP or district meetings? If so, in your experience, what are the benefits of participating in these NABP activities?

I attended a District Meeting in San Antonio, TX, in 2017, and the NABP Interactive Member Forum at NABP Headquarters last November. Both were excellent opportunities to meet other board members and see the diversity across the country. Each board has its own “personality,” it seems, and the eternal student in me loves to see the varied solutions and approaches taken to resolve challenges. The Interactive Member Forum was especially helpful in learning more about NABP itself, the services and resources it provides, and the different mechanisms for getting involved.

This article was featured in the June/July 2019 issue of Innovations.